Letter: Bruckner upzoning puts Throggs Neck’s quality of life in peril

FoodTown_-3
Residents in August protest a proposal that would bring multiple buildings to Bruckner Boulevard.
Photo Adrian Childress

To the Editor,

Quality of life in Throgs Neck is heavily dependent upon longstanding zoning protections currently imperiled by the proposed Bruckner upzoning. 

Zoning protections are what differentiate our relatively safe quiet neighborhood from higher density Bronx neighborhoods such as the Grand Concourse and are what prompted many residents to settle here. These protections — which benefit so many — should not be dismantled simply to enrich a handful of wannabe real estate tycoons.

In the event this application is approved, the fallout on our quality of life will be devastating and irreversible. Unlike bad legislation or policy, buildings are physical structures which cannot be eliminated with the stroke of a pen.

Examples of the aforementioned fallout can include:

  • Slower emergency response time by NYPD and FDNY probably contributing to increased crime rates as well as impaired general public safety.
  • Increased noise and litter.
  • Less public parking availability.
  • Increased roadway congestion.
  • Increased overcrowding of our schools.
  • Less available hospital beds and increased delays in receiving health care.
  • Increased strain on our already strained sewer and drain systems.
  • Inevitable additional overdevelopment to follow.

Quite frankly, I’m amazed that our elected officials have permitted this application to get as far as it’s gotten. Community opposition is overwhelming. More than 10,000 residents have signed petitions opposing the upzoning and close to $38,000 has been contributed by local residents to extinguish this very real threat.

The developers, which include the owners of Super Foodtown on Bruckner Boulevard, have no track record when it comes to developments of this size and scope. In an interview given to Real Deal in May 2022, Bruckner upzoning principal Peter Bivona — currently in bankruptcy court over millions in unpaid personal obligations — declared that financing for the project had not been secured.

In 2021, Zuccarello, one of the developers behind the upzoning, got approval to upzone 68-19 Woodhaven Boulevard so that a multifamily/mixed-use project could be constructed. No such construction was ever completed, yet Zuccarello is apparently attempting to flip the now rezoned, undeveloped property for more than $14 million. Do the Bruckner upzoning developers really intend to develop the properties themselves or are they seeking to simply upzone the project area in order to flip one or more of the properties — in which case might we wind up with something even worse than what’s currently contemplated?

An extremely important “make or break” stage of the official review process will be an upcoming City Council vote. As these are not established developers, it should be a simple matter for our local Councilmember Marjorie Velázquez to accumulate the required “no” votes from her fellow members to kill this application at the City Council level. If she succeeds in that endeavor, she should be applauded for having done a great service to her constituents. If, on the other hand, she fails to eliminate this application, such failure should not be forgiven or excused.

If our elected officials can’t defend the neighborhood from these relative small timers, what can they do when the big boys inevitably come around?

Joseph G. Vaini

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