The Council pushed back a vote on the controversial proposal to Dec. 7, after a dozen councilmembers signed onto a letter raising concerns over the project’s lack of commitments to affordable housing and jobs.

Sadef Ali Kully

Community groups who oppose the rezoning plan held a protest rally on Main Street in September.

The City Council pushed back a vote on the Special Flushing Waterfront Rezoning to Dec. 7, after a dozen councilmembers signed onto a letter raising concerns over the lack of commitments to affordable housing and jobs in the private rezoning application. 

In the joint letter released Wednesday, Francisco Moya, who chairs the City Council Zoning and Franchise Subcommittee, says the private rezoning plan neglects community needs.

“It ignores the real, urgent needs of the Flushing community. We believe it would be irresponsible to approve the application without deep community benefits like real affordable housing and commitments to provide good jobs,” the letter states. “This year has forced us to examine the needs of our working class communities in a deeper and more holistic way. Approving this rezoning as it currently stands would be a grave mistake.”

The statement was co-signed by fellow councilmember Keith Powers, Diana Ayala, Ritchie Torres, Ben Kallos, Helen Rosenthal, Brad Lander, Jimmy Van Bramer, Mark Levine, Carlos Menchaca, Justin Brannan and Carlina Rivera.

Under the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), the City Council has 50 days to review a land use application—which includes a review by the Council’s land use subcommittees—before the final vote. If the Council determines the application needs modifications, however, it would have to go back to the Department of City Planning, which would have to weigh in if the changes could occur without restarting the clock on the ULURP process. 

Typically, the Council follows the vote of the member in whose district a proposed project falls, a tradition known as member deference. Moya’s letter reflects a shift in this longstanding tradition: Flushing Councilmember Peter Koo has shown support for the project from its onset, despite opposition from local community groups. 

In August, during the ULURP for the private rezoning of Industry City in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, some Councilmembers lauded the project as a job-creating opportunity during the current economic crisis, despite the leadership of Sunset Park Councilmember Carlos Menchaca, who vehemently opposed the plan. Menchaca argued the proposal did not genuinely meet community needs or reflect waterfront planning to address climate change. In the end, Industry City withdrew the application and will continue developing without rezoning the area. 

The private rezoning application for the Flushing project would create a 29-acre waterfront special district with nine new buildings, including 1,725 new apartments, a hotel, a new road system, public open space on the waterfront, commercial space for retail and offices and a community center. 

Three of the project sites (known as Sites 1, 2, and 3) are slated for condominiums, and  developers have not disclosed the market value of those units. The fourth site, Site 4, is slated to include an estimated 70 to 95 affordable apartments under the city’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) program. Of those units, 25 percent which would be studios, 50 percent would be one-bedroom units and 25 percent two-bedroom units. The developers did not specify the affordability levels that would be utilized for the site under the MIH program.