Sept. 9, 2022 By Christian Murray and Czarinna Andres
Community Board 2 voted Thursday to reject a rezoning application filed by the owners of an auto dealership who seek to convert a dilapidated site on Northern Boulevard into a Lincoln showroom.
The reason for the rejection was not that the proposed building would be too large or that the planned use of the 58-02 Northern Blvd would be out of character—but because the application was for an auto dealership.
The board made clear that it opposed the auto industry from being on Northern Boulevard—and that it does not want dealerships or any other auto-related businesses to open on the stretch.
Laura Shepard, a board member who is the Queens organizer for Transportation Alternatives, put forward the motion to reject the application that was approved by the board by 17 for and 15 against, with one abstention.
The motion read, in part: “Community Board 2 opposes the development of any auto related industry along the Northern Boulevard corridor.”
The applicants, who own a Lincoln dealership in Jamaica, told the board prior to the vote that the site is currently occupied by a one-story vacant restaurant building and that they want to turn it into a showroom.
A new restaurant, they said, would not be permitted to take over the space since it would now be deemed a non-conforming zoning use.
The site is currently zoned for low-density housing (R5), and the applicants are calling for the site to be rezoned R6B/C2-2 district. The change would permit medium-density residential housing as well as commercial uses such as the showroom.
The proposed Lincoln dealership would be a 2-story building, with the main showroom on the first floor and accessory office space on the second floor. Vehicles would be stored in the cellar, accessed via a car elevator. The showroom would not contain any repair services, or delivery staging areas.
But the dealership owners, Michael Naclerio and Joseph Vultaggio, received a cool reception from several board members at the meeting Thursday, especially once it was made clear that Lincoln would use the showroom to sell SUVs.
Shepard, in particular, asked the owners a number of hard-hitting questions:
“Are you aware that when children are hit by SUVs they are eight times more likely to die than when they are hit by a sedan?”
“Are you aware that 11 of the 14 children under 17 killed in New York City this year were killed by SUV, pickup and van drivers?”
Shepard also criticized the owners about their Jamaica location, claiming that they parked their vehicles on the sidewalk. She noted that illegal parking was the number one 311 complaint in community board 2.
Additionally, Shepard said that an elementary school is located a block away from the proposed showroom.
Vultaggio said that he has children and understood the concerns. He also noted that Lincoln had moved away from selling sedans and that SUVs were now the products being sold.
The applicants were also told that the district had a greater need for housing than automobiles.
The rezoning application if approved would permit the owners—if desired– to construct a residential building as large as 5 stories, which would consist of about 10 dwelling units. At least two of the units, however, would have to be set aside for affordable housing.
Under the current R5 zoning the building could be as high as 3 stories with fewer units.
Frank St. Jacques, a land use attorney for the applicants, said he was doubtful that it would be economically feasible to build housing at the site.
Furthermore, he said that a small-scale housing development would not be desired on such a busy thoroughfare.
He noted that the site has sat vacant for years given the economics.
The applicants bought the site in May 2020 for $1,990,000 with the express purpose of building a showroom. They plan to open it in 2024 if their rezoning application is successful.
The applicants argue that if the property is not rezoned it will remain vacant.
Reilly Owens, a board member, said that main reason housing is not desirable along Northern Boulevard is due to the auto industry.
“The area you are building in doesn’t have much life and that is because of the auto industry,” Owens said. “You don’t think residential will work…but the reason is the dealerships all around it and the auto shops.”
The board listened to the public opine on the project prior to the vote and most spoke in opposition to the plan.
Emilia Decaudin, a Sunnyside resident and Democratic Party District leader in Assembly District 37, said she opposed the application and that the site would be better used for housing. She said that the site should not be used by an auto dealership given the threat of climate change and how fossil fuels are a detriment to the planet’s health.
Meanwhile, Bobby Preti, a local resident and a member of Families for Safe Streets, opposed the plan. “We don’t need oversized SUVs on our streets,” Preti said, noting that a woman was recently struck and killed on 48th Street by a driver of an SUV.
Steven Bodzin, who lives in Jackson Heights, opposed the dealership. “This is not oriented to making New York a cleaner, greener place.”
Community Board 2’s rejection of the plan is merely advisory.
The plan will now go to Queens Borough President Donovan Richards who will have 30 days to make a recommendation. His recommendation will also be advisory.
The City Planning Commission will then have 60 days to vote on it. The CPC vote is typically binding, where its rejection—which is rare– would terminate an application.
The final step in the process is for the plan to go before the city council, which essentially makes the decision.
The site is located in Councilmember Julie Won’s district. She will ultimately decide the fate of the project, since the council typically votes in lockstep with the representative where a development is proposed.
The fewer cars the better.
Speakers opposed like Decaudin were invited to the CB2 first meeting of the season. No notice was given for a thoughtful process. That is called a rigged vote and is corrupt. War on cars, yes. War on business, yes. War on democracy, yes.
It’s a community board meeting. It happens every month and the schedule and meeting agenda are published. Everyone gets time to speak. It’s a long meeting but at least you can attend from home and do other stuff while you listen and wait for a chance to speak.
The funny thing a out the war on cars is that if successful would be a huge loss of tax revenue
Why? People spend the money they have. It goes somewhere. The fewer drivers, the more savings for the state and city government, because the public cost of car use far outweighs any taxes collected. Let them spend money on public transit, bikes, e-bikes, taxis, ferries, and all the things people need to live. Let them buy homes. The money flows.
You are terrible at math.
Trump says not paying taxes “makes you smart.” Car owners don’t have to pay special taxes that others don’t…you did know that right?
Most NYCers don’t own cars. The only tax they contribute is sales tax…which we pay on everything else. Many vehicle registrations are exempt from sales tax.
Trump said not paying taxes “makes me smart,” why should we support taxation?
Most NYers in Queens do own cars.
Seriously? People are still trying red baiting? What is this, 1950? Senator McCarthy is long dead—and good riddance. Get some new ideas, for real. Talking about communism. Pfft.
Marx is long dead too. It’s a shame his ideas didn’t die with him.
They should have just said the car dealership was for Uber & Lyft. A call would have been made and Transportation alternatives would have been on board. Don’t believe me, check out their website – Uber and Lyft are one of the biggest financial backers of transportation alternatives. Maybe the Sunnyside Post should do a story about that?
Maybe try the NY Post.
The New York Post, as frightening as this sounds, is the only New York Paper left. The Times is a joke, Newsday backed out of the city, and the Daily News does nothing but run AP stories.
NY Post nothing but Republican propaganda. NY Times is the only paper with substance and actual information
You tell them Gullible! You can’t trust the New York Post!
If not as TLC vehicles driving for Uber and Lyft. Guaranteed that would be 80% of their sales.
What does Fox News have to say on this matter?
…nobody watches FOX anymore, they are sellouts….everyone watches NEWSMAX…at least get your slurs and innuendos correct please….
Newsmax is Just a liar by another name.
On one hand I agree—we need more housing, and NB would be a lot nicer with something to break up the car dealerships. On the other, you cannot expect the developer to suddenly change their expertise from car dealerships to housing.
Radical left wrecking ball. Transportation Alternatives, socialists, and their paid-for puppets in office, continue their imperialism at the expense of Queens.
Did all the board members who were against this site also use Uber or Lyft to get home?
Exactly. How many of these members or their family members own and drive SUVs with their children or grandchildren in them? If they do, they should immediately resign from CB2 for endangering the residents of Queens according to their own ruling!
They don’t let who are experienced enough to have grandchildren on the board. TA and our former failed local politician knew the progressive agenda would never get through people who actually know and love the neighborhood. They are reinventing the wheel now, virtually of course.
No we meet online so most of us were already home.
Afraid of the public.
The headline is ridiculous and almost Dorfman-esque level ofpathetic. It’s clearly not a great use for the site, and the area already has an unusually high number of auto dealers. Another home run by CB2!
You don’t see clearly. CB2, Julie Won and their employers at Transportation alternatives have declared war on the people in cars. Your utter blindness to this fact has driven many people to the ends of their patience. Including, it seems, headline writers. The ugliness of your actions and tactics passes all bounds of civility.
If you change the first word of your post from “you” to “I” then it would make sense! Your incivility is bred from ignorance and misinformation. The headline reflects it, too, but at least for them it’s clickbait that leads to ad revenue. All things considered it was absolutely the right decision!
Is this a case of “I’m rubber your glue?” At least you’re good for a chuckle.
It may have come off that way. But if you want to know what’s funny, it’s someone spouting hyperbole like and wild conspiracy theories telling someone with the rational view that they are the ones who don’t see things clearly.
But in a way it’s sad. The QAnon people are similar, they see things ordinary people don’t and have the temerity to call them out. And then you have the right wing extremists who, like you, demonize elected officials and members of their community with often dangerous results. Some lot you fall into.
Czarinna should know better, though, as a former board member. This is a disgrace that empowers extremist elements in our community. Please amend the headline.
CB2 is brilliant. Let us leave an abandoned, run down, consistently graffitied eyesore former restaurant that can not be a restaurant anymore because an SUV will be sold in a new building alongside all the other car dealerships. It is truly one of the most laughable excuses. Nobody is going to build an apartment building that close to Northern Blvd traffic noise. Next, the CB2 will make an open streets on Northern Blvd for the motor scooters and electric bikes only. Where did these find CB2 members?
Community Board 2 made this tough decision via Zoom, since they are afraid of Covid-19 and want to do remote meetings. If you want to find them, check the local bars on Skillman Avenue, where Covid-19 doesn’t exist.
Laura Shepard, while I respect your studies at Cornell University, I would advise to use some of that business logic and think – making more bike lanes doesn’t fix the problem, it increases it! By the way, more children are killed by gun violence than by cars. Illegal parking happens because Citi Bikes and bike lanes, which does absolutely NOTHING to improve the community, has taken over 1,000 car parking spots over the past 2 years. Please provide quantifiable data that Citi Bikes and bike lanes improves quality of life. I’ll be waiting for you op-ed.
Bobby Preti – kindly look above. Want safe streets? Put more lighting in John Vincent Daniels Jr. Square, John Downing Park, and the drug infested Sabba Park.
Emilia Decaudin, more housing? While I respect your political progressive efforts, doesn’t Sunnyside and Woodside have enough new buildings? If you feel otherwise, please go to 52nd street and Roosevelt Avenue. And if you want to see the results of developers charging $2,000 for affordable housing studios, go up and down Queens Boulevard, which is inundated with homeless shelter hotels.
Steven Bodzin, thanks for broaching the subject of a cleaner, greener place. Do you own a car? Do you recycle regularly? Do you use Uber to get to places? With the huge increase in cannabis smoking thanks to former governor Cuomo, Queens has definitely gotten greener.
Dear Julie Won, as a real resident who cares about local business, please consider permitting the use of a car lot. Unlike some of the Community Board 2 members, who were not thoroughly vetted and have personal initiatives (simple web search), Woodside and Sunnyside do not need any more rezoning for developers to profit, resulting in the increase of homelessness, crime and poverty in the community. Thank you.
Re the gotcha questions for Steven Bodzin
Do you own a car? [No]
Do you recycle regularly? [Yes]
Do you use Uber to get to places? [No]
Any other questions?
Whoever you are, Bravo! They are narrow-minded ideologues destroying the grassroots in favor of a phantasm politicians and corporations have mesmerized them with. They are doing their ugly work for free. Shepherd’s expensive education notwithstanding, she does not listen she dictates. She is wrong for public service. join the Nazi party, they’ll love you.
Northern Boulevard through western queens is a disgrace. Hideous with all of the car dealerships, a boulevard that is essentially a 4+ lane on-grade highway, and completely designed for cars and not pedestrians. All the product of backwards, neighborhood destroying zoning that has gone on for decades. This would be a step in the right direction.
« Declares War on Cars » is a bogus, overtly biased title.
VOTE. THEM. ALL. OUT.
just had an election cycle for Council District D26 how’d that go
So Community Board 2 has been taken over by morons. The board believes that a car dealership should sell cars that people don’t want to buy, and that “somebody” should build housing provided the city can extort from them a set aside of units for affordable housing. Will the board do anything else to show that they don’t have a basic understanding of economics?
Did you apply for CB2?
I can’t afford an assembly member or state senator on my salary.
Cars will be luxuries only the wealthy and politically connected will have in the not too distant future.
Awesome if there are fewer cars around. Either way, if someone wants to buy a car, they don’t need to do it on Northern Blvd and close to the subway. Buy cars in Long Island where land and lives are cheap.
I’m glad you didn’t vote for the wealthy and politically connected billionaire for president. Gee you’d look silly!
That’s assuming we won’t also ban the wealthy and politically-connected just as we’re banning cars. Workers rise up!
It’s part of the communist take over. The last thing a tyrannical government needs are mobile people. Go ahead… call me crazy… you’ll see.
This is what happens when failed politicians appoint fanatics and zealots to the board hoping to gain that vote. Many of the buildings along Northern Blvd closer to the city built cars and manufactured car parts all of which were shipped around the country and elsewhere from the gantries in the East River. Myrtle of Great Gatsby fame lived above an auto business on Northern Blvd and her mechanic husband drove out to kill Gatsby on Northern Blvd because the road was the central transportation corridor between Manhattan and Long Island before the LIE was built. Thank God CB2 is advisory. This class of board members don’t know much about where they live. Putting a TA principal on the board was as cynical a move as putting a real-estate industry factotum in charge decades ago. The two of them. We’re and are not for the neighborhood, they are for the ideology of their employers. Shame on you corrupt public servants.
Oh, I never finished reading Gatsby. What happened to Myrtle?
HIL-arious that this litttttttle detail abut Myrtle’s violent fate is left out of Lela’s l’il literature lesson.
My takeaway was far different than it being a justification of the auto industry along Northern almost a century later! Wow.
well, yeah. you didnt think the laws applied to democrat progressive socialist politicians, did you? the same old story…it’s good for me, but not for thee.