By a vote of 30 in favor, two in opposition, and two abstentions, the board nearly unanimously supported the proposal to create an incentive-based support system for Ridgewood’s manufacturing district in SOMA, between Cypress and Irving Avenues and west of the NY Connecting Railroad Bay Ridge Freight Line.
“The IBZ has nothing to do with zoning of the industrial property,” said Jean Tanler, CB5 member and coordinator for the Maspeth Industrial Business Association. “We provide financial assistance and services to businesses and access to incentives.”
If approved by the IBZ Commission, businesses moving into the IBZ would receive a $1,000 tax credit for every employee on staff and the support of an IBZ board for a number of financial assistance matters.
Representative of four property owners along Irving Avenue area have been seeking to exclude their property from the industrial zone and develop it residentially.
Although their lots are zoned manufacturing, Eric Palatnik, attorney for the group notes the properties are on the edge of the proposed district and could be excluded.
“Many of these properties are vacant and underutilized,” Palatnik said. “We’re working with city planning to try to redevelop these developments. The creation of an IBZ would thwart that plan and keep the properties vacant.”
The board voted that the properties be included.
"By combining some huge lots, with the R-6 zone they asked for, the residential buildings could be built as a tower and really not fit into the character of the homes surrounding it," said Walter Sanchez, chair of the Zoning Committee. "These properties in question make up a significant percentage of the zone."
Stephanie Eisenberg, a Williamsburg manufacturing business owner, joined the CB5 meeting for the second month in a row to inform the board and community of the possible consequences of developing an IBZ in the area.
“We are being overrun because properties are vacant and waiting for the right price or they are being sold to bars,” Eisenberg said. “The residential areas that are next to some of these IBZ have become bars and it’s loud. It goes on until 4 or 6 o’clock in the morning and the IBZ encourages this type of behavior.”
Eisenberg blames the IBZ in her neighborhood for a “highest-investor” mentality and causing an influx of bars and businesses near her properties, citing a new “700-seat cabaret” across the street from the Wythe Hotel.
“When people leave they all go drive home drunk,” she said. “They walk through the neighborhood, they scream, they hoot and holler, they throw garbage cans and it’s become a big problem in this IBZ.”
Other Board News
• The family of Tony Ferruccio asked the board to help with information about the accident that took his life on the Grand Central Parkway near Utopia Parkway on June 23. Ferruccio was a proprietor of the Mobile Service Station at the corner of Fresh Pond Road and 61 Street in Maspeth for decades. The family felt it was unusual that a motorcycle driver who was notoriously safe would have an accident without some other contributing factor.
* The board voted to follow the lead of the Parks Committee and oppose the method of decommissioning the dam in Forest/Highland Park. The board is worried the natural beauty of the old Ridgewood Reservoir will be destroyed to make way for athletic fields. "There are so few nature preserves left in Queens, why destroy it," said Steven Fiedler, committee chair.