November 13th, 2008
Dara L. MIles reports from today’s City Council meeting:
The New York City Council today approved zoning changes that pave the way for two ambitious redevelopment projects in Queens. City officials say the Willets Point redevelopment plan in northeast Queens and the Hunters Point South plan in Long Island City will provide thousands of affordable homes for middle-class and low-income families.
Of the two proposals, the Willetts Point plan has drawn the most criticism, much of it from some of the 200 small businesses, which will be forced to relocate. Most of the businesses — many of them auto-related — operate out of facilities leased from the landowners. The city has reached agreements with some owners to buy more than half the land involved, but may use its rights of eminent domain to acquire the rest.
While Council Speaker Christine Quinn hailed the vote as “a great day for the borough of Queens,” other members expressed concern over the use of eminent domain, but voted for the zoning changes anyway, saying that the benefits — housing, jobs and an environmental clean up — were too important to ignore. Still two members, Anthony Avella and Charles Barron sided with the businesses and voted “no,” and councilmember Letitia James abstained, because she is a plaintiff in a lawsuit against the city challenging a previous use of eminent domain.By Gail Robinson on November 13, 2008, 5:29 pm
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