Councilman Holden pushes to curb residential growth in central Queens

A Queens councilman has set out to reinforce the white picket fence in his district.

The city’s planning commission indicated earlier this month that City Hall did not support Councilman Robert Holden’s plan to allow no more than one family in central Queens row houses, so Holden said he is slated to pitch the plan again, at a future meeting with the Planning Department’s Queens division. If the government remains unconvinced, Holden said he would support community organizations in submitting an application to alter the area’s zoning.

“There’s a mechanism to actually create a special zone in our own neighborhood, despite city Planning’s opinion,” Holden said. “We bought our homes to live in a certain kind of neighborhood. We don’t want to see that destroyed.”

Holden wrote a letter to City Planning Commissioner Marisa Lago on March 26 explaining his goal of creating a new zoning class — single-family row houses. He said many row houses near Juniper Valley Park and in parts of Woodside are technically allowed to house two families, but the traditionally single-family homes have been rapidly divided into units for two or more families.

This, Holden argues, has led to overcrowding in local schools, overtaxed sewage systems and a deteriorating quality of life. Going forward, Holden said, homes with one family should be required to keep that setup.

In her response to Holden, Lago said the Planning Department had already passed measures to protect the character of row houses in his district.

She noted the department does not believe there is a need for a lower density row house zone, particularly because the city is focused on easing the affordable housing crunch through neighborhood plans that incentivize the creation of lower cost homes.

“We’d like to do it citywide,” Holden said, suggesting there may be support in the Council for adding this sort of zoning class in other areas. “If we have to create our own zones, special zones, we’ll do that in the meantime.”