New zoning plan gets cool response at public meetings


Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to see thousands of new units of affordable housing for senior citizens and others throughout the city over the next decade. To achieve that goal, he has proposed sweeping changes to the city’s zoning text.

Carol Samol, the director of the Department of City Planning’s (DCP) Bronx office, presented a key part of those plans, called the Zoning for Quality and Affordability (ZQA) text, before Community Board (CB) 8’s Land Use Committee on Oct. 30.

She said the supply of affordable housing is not keeping pace with demand from the city’s rapidly aging population.

“We have programs in place, but we’re nowhere near what we’ll actually need,” Ms. Samol said at the meeting in the Riverdale Jewish Center’s basement. “In the Bronx, it’s important to remember, almost 70 percent of residents over age 65 are considered low-income and could qualify for this housing.”

“Our goal is keeping seniors in our communities,” Ms. Samol added.

CB 8 members voiced strong skepticism about ZQA, with Land Use Committee Chairman Charles Moerdler saying there is no need to encourage more senior housing in the northwest Bronx.

“We have not had or seen, in this community, any nursing home application for decades,” he said. “The Riverdale-Kingsbridge community and Staten Island have been designated by law as having overabundance of nursing home facilities.”

Mr. Moerdler and several audience members pointed out that a provision in ZQA creates a new zoning category that would enable the Hebrew Home at Riverdale to file for permission to implement its long-stalled plans for an 11-story apartment building and several smaller residences (see story, page A1). Ms. Samol did not discuss the Hebrew Home, and only confirmed that the category of building, called a Continuing Care Retirement Community, was a new one.

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Board members also criticized parts of ZQA that would allow for tiny apartments along with passages reducing requirements for parking spaces in some parts of the neighborhood.

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