Feb. 20, 2020 By Michael Dorgan
Community Board 1 overwhelmingly approved the city’s plan Tuesday to relocate its sanitation garage on 21st Street to an industrial area in Astoria.
The board, by a vote of 31 in favor and one opposed, approved the plan to move the facility from 34-28 21st St. to 31-11 20th Ave., by Luyster Creek.
The Department of Sanitation presented its plans to the board and said the current facility on 21st Street is no longer big enough, is in poor structural condition, and is located in a residential district.
Residents have complained for years about pollution emanating from the 21st Street facility as well as the smelly garbage trucks that idle outside and leave oil spills and garbage debris on the roadway.
The plan involves the construction of a new garage and salt shed on a 9.8 acre site on 20th Avenue that will enable DSNY to continue serving north west Queens. The salt shed will replace the salt facility on the waterfront at 43rd Avenue and Vernon Boulevard.
One resident at the board meeting called on the DSNY to put in place weather resiliency measures at the new location to minimize the environmental impact.
A DSNY representative said that specialized storm water and waste water systems would be incorporated as part of the plan. Furthermore, she added, a City Environmental Quality Review determined that the facility would have no significant adverse impacts regarding air, noise or traffic pollution.
Residents also raised concerns about increased traffic in the area but the city said its vehicles would only use 19th Avenue for access to the site and that the sanitation site is positioned back from the roadway and away from residential areas.
The board asked whether the city could provide public access to the waterfront via the site. Public access is not part of the current plan but the DSNY representative said that the city would look into it.
Questions were raised as to what would happen to the existing 21st Street site. Members for the Justice for All Coalition asked if the site could be kept in public hands and not sold for profit to developers.
The DSNY representative said that the city had not made a decision as to the future of the 21st Street site and that it wouldn’t be making a determination until it gets approval for the 20th Avenue proposal.
The 20th Avenue site is privately owned by Luyster Creek LLC, a company that entered into a contract to buy the property from Consolidated Edison Company of New York for $15 million in December 2001. The transaction closed in July 2014.
The application to relocate to 20th Avenue is part of the City’s Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP) which the DSNY hopes to complete by August 2020.