Queens Neighborhood Divided Over Landmark Status
02/28/2007 11:20 AM
Residents in one Queens community are divided over the city's plan to preserve the character of their neighborhood. As NY1’s Ruschell Boone explains in the following report, the debate about the issue heated up Tuesday night where some said the neighborhood's character already has enough protection.
Copyright © 2008 NY1 News
A meeting Tuesday about the city's plans to landmark Sunnyside Gardens turned rowdy after some people accused the City's Landmarks Preservation Commission of listening only to people who support the plan.
“I've been paying off the house for 17 years and it's a real shame to see people move in, with an agenda, and now can take over my house,” said homeowner John Ward. “It's really sad.”
Sunnyside Gardens was built more than 80-years ago as a unique garden community for middle-class workers with brick row houses and lots of open space.
It was the first planned garden city in the United States, and current zoning laws already prohibit major changes to the homes without the city's permission.
But some residents who were at the meeting expressed their worry that landmarking could make the rules even stricter.
“Becoming a landmark will certainly make it more costly to do day-to-day repairs that involve the skins of the building,” said Susan Meiklejohn, a Sunnyside Gardens homeowner.
Currently, if homeowners want to make a change to their property they have to go through the Department of City Planning and the Department of Buildings to do so. It is a process that many who are in favor of landmarking say is too cumbersome.
“Because it takes a number of years for someone to get through the special permit system,” said another homeowner Ciaron Stauton.
Many who support the plan also say the DOB is not doing enough to curb additions, like dormers and extensions, that are being made to some of the homes.
"The truth is that landmarks preservation — landmark designation — is the only thing with teeth that can truly enforce and protect and preserve this truly historic and beautiful neighborhood,” says homeowner James Van Bramer. “I think that the uniformity and the way in which our houses are set up and laid out is very special and worthy of preservation.”
Landmarks Preservation Commission Chairman Bob Tierney agrees.
“We want to preserve this wonderful resource here in Queens for the people in Queens and the people in New York City,” said Tierney.
The LPC says on March 6th it will set a date for its decision on whether the area should be landmarked.