Queens Borough President Melinda Katz // Photo courtesy Borough Hall

Katz and Borough Board to Vote on M1 Hotel Text Amendment

By David Brand

After months of consideration by Queens Community Boards, the M1 Hotel Text Amendment faces one more local vote when the Queens Borough Board convenes tonight.

The Board members, including Board Chair Melinda Katz and representatives from each Community District, will cast their vote on whether to recommend the adoption of the New York City Department of City Planning’s proposed M1 Hotel Text Amendment.

The meeting will take place at Queens Borough Hall at 5:30 pm.

The vote is advisory but will likely influence the full, binding vote by the City Council. If the Council approves the M1 Hotel Text Amendment anyone who wants to open a new hotel in an M1 district — zoning jargon for for Light Manufacturing district —  would first have to obtain a special permit from the City Planning Commission.

There has been a surge in hotel development inside M1 districts since 2010, according to the Department of City Planning.

In a 2017 statement, the city reported that over 75 percent of hotel rooms built in M1 districts outside Manhattan were located in four “clusters,” not including the area immediately surrounding JFK Airport. Long Island City and Jamaica are the two areas with the highest number of new M1 hotels. North Brooklyn and Gowanus round out the top four.

The Borough Board was first briefed on the proposed text amendment at its meeting on October 16, 2017 as part of DCP’s environmental review process. In May, DCP presented its proposal to the Board on May 14.

The monthly Borough Board meetings convene local leaders to discuss issues affecting the borough and to participate in presentations from city agencies.

At the last Cabinet Meeting, Community Board 13 Chair Clive Williams decided to challenge his peers to tackle common issues, such as veterans affairs, together.

In June, Williams attended a Community Board 5 meeting chaired by Vincent Arcuri and discussed his mission.

“Why aren’t we talking to each other?” Williams said he asked Arcuri, according to QNS.com. “As a matter of fact, why aren’t chairs talking to each other? Because we have pretty much many of the same challenges, the same problems in our communities.”

Arcuri said he looked forward to more coordination with fellow community boards.

In June, Community Board 5 voted unanimously to opposed the zoning text amendment because it could enable more hotels to serve as homeless shelters, an issue that has sparked large protests in the district. The text of the amendment states that the hotels could “provide temporary housing assistance or shelter to homeless individuals and families.”

The Queens Chronicle reported on the June board meeting.

“They spent so much angst saying this kind of use hurts the character of the neighborhood, so why would they leave it open for transient hotels?” said Land Use Committee Chairman Walter Sanchez, according to the Chronicle. “We think the exemption undermines the stated intent of the amendment.”

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