Councilman Tony Avella, the Queens Democrat who prides himself on his independence, was the subject of something of an apparent scolding from nearly half of the City Council today. The tool: an extremely rare vote against a rezoning proposal.
Mr. Avella has from time to time engaged in the taboo practice of voting against rezonings in other members’ districts despite support from the local member, such as his votes against the Columbia University West Harlem expansion and the 125th Street rezoning. Council members typically defer to the local members on issues such as rezonings.
Today, 25 Council members voted against a rezoning in Mr. Avella’s district—a rezoning he and 19 other members supported—dealing a rezoning an incredibly rare (perhaps unprecedented) "no" vote by the full Council.
While the official word from at least one Council Member was the rezoning didn’t include enough affordable housing, the vote was a clear message to Mr. Avella, who made a show of his vote against the 125th Street rezoning. [The Observer‘s Azi Paybarah, who is down at City Hall, has more on the Politicker on Avellarezoninggate.]
The rezoning was for a private developer in College Point, Queens, to change the zoning on a swath of land from manufacturing to allow for residential. We have a call in to the developer, College Pt. Holdings, but haven’t yet heard back.
Apparently, however, the rezoning may still go forward due to some complicated legal language issues, meaning the whole vote was appropriately symbolic. The Land Use committee earlier issued a resolution in favor of the rezoning; then today the full Council voted against it, meaning that the rezoning wasn’t nixed, but rather the Council just did not vote in favor of it.