Thursday, January 22, 2009

Civic Group Concerned about Bar Opening

Update Also Provided on Stalled Downzoning at CB 5 Meeting

By Conor Greene

Progress on the long-stalled downzoning of Glendale, Middle Village and Maspeth, and concerns over a new bar opening in Ridgewood, highlighted the remainder of last week’s Community Board 5 meeting.

Downzoning Moving Forward

Tom Smith of the Department of City Planning and Walter Sanchez, chair of the board’s Land Use Committee, briefly discussed the stalled downzoning, which is intended to protect about 350 blocks from out of character development.

The effort has wallowed in the DCP since volunteers began the effort three years ago by surveying thousands of properties within the study area. Residents and civic groups whose members have put countless hours into the project have since waited for the DCP to certify the plan, which is needed before it goes to the City Council for approval.

Smith told the board that he is “confident” that the process is in the “final stages” of its DCP review. He said several changes were made as a result of input provided to the department several months ago when the plan was first presented to the Land Use Committee.

Among those minor changes were retaining commercial overlays in some residential areas, such as where corner stores already exist. “We don’t want to lose those small commercial stores,” said Smith. Examples of these types of overlays include portions of Metropolitan and Cypress avenues, he said. In addition, the department is taking another look at the area around Atlas Park in Glendale, which includes properties used for industrial purposes.

Concerns Over New Bar

During the meeting’s public comment period, board member Ann Maggio, also president of the Citizens for a Better Ridgewood, read a letter expressing concerns about a new bar and restaurant opening at 205 Cypress Avenue.

The location “has had a bad history in our neighborhood,” said Maggio, most recently due to La Nueva Tinaja, “which was finally closed down after many neighborhood protests.” A new application for a liquor license for that premises was recently filed under the name La Planeta Azul, which would be open from noon until 4 a.m. Monday thorough Friday, with weekend hours not specified, according to Maggio.

“We would like to meet with the new owners before a liquor license is approved to find out what their plans are,” she said. With several other “troubling establishments” already operating in the neighborhood, “this is not what we want in our area and we want to make sure that 205 Cypress is not the same type of establishment,” said Maggio.

“Citizens for a Better Ridgewood had to work for several years to get rid of La Nueva Tinaja, Equinoxio and the Belly Dancing CafĂ©. We don’t want to have to work to get rid of another problem; we’d rather stop before it begins.”

Councilwoman Diana Reyna, whose district covers a portion of Ridgewood, later vowed to look into the issue on behalf of the civic association.

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