Oct. 20, 2016 By Hannah Wulkan
Local politicians gathered on Monday to call for a down zoning of South Corona to cap large developments and allow infrastructure to begin to catch up to demand.
Standing outside of school trailers at P.S. 16 on Monday, Congressman Joseph Crowley, Assembly Member Francisco Moya and State Sen. Jose Peralta urged the city to restrict the current zoning codes, as development and population begin to outpace the neighborhood’s infrastructure.
“Smart development requires building in a way that is consistent with the neighborhood that’s being developed. In South Corona, we see the consequences of letting too much happen to soon. The neighborhood can’t absorb the burgeoning population and students end up suffering for it,” Moya said in a statement.
The politicians pointed out examples such as PS. 16, P.S. 19, and P.S. 28, which are currently at 144 percent, 140 percent and 178 percent capacity, respectively. The schools have trailers to house the overflow of students, which create far inferior learning environments to the actual school buildings, officials said.
“There is a clear need to look at all possible ways to alleviate the chronic school overcrowding that has been affecting our district for years and decades,” Peralta said. “Construction of new schools has not kept up with the growing population, and this is why it is important the City considers downgrading the current zoning codes in the area in an effort to keep one and two family homes, which have been replaced with multi-family, multi-dwelling residences, thus increasing the number of students.”
They also addressed other issues of infrastructure, including dangerous crowding on the 7 train.
“The City needs to balance development in the Borough of Queens with an equal focus on using zoning as a tool to preserve the bedroom communities which make up an important part of our borough’s housing stock. Clearly this community seeks such a balance and their concerns should be addressed,” said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz.
The politicians are seeking to reduce the zoning codes in South Corona from the current codes of R5 (A)(B) or R6(B) to a lower designation that would limit the frequency and the trend of replacing homes with high-rise buildings.
The high levels of development have caused Corona to see one of the steepest population climbs in Queens this year, with a 3.3 percent population increase, second only to the Rockaways in growth within the borough, according to the U.S. Census.
“It is irresponsible, and unfair to the families that live in our communities, to allow for the over development of our neighborhoods without first investing in our infrastructure and ensuring we’re able to provide the services they need and deserve,” Crowley said.