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Long Beach to vote in the spring on blueprint for development

The city is considering redeveloping the Central Business

The city is considering redeveloping the Central Business District Civic Plaza area at Long Beach City Hall. Credit: City of Long Beach

Long Beach city leaders are planning to vote in the spring on a 30-year comprehensive plan that outlines the city’s future.

City Council members are expected to vote in the next two months on the blueprint to protect the city from future flooding, redevelop its northern waterfront and overhaul zoning codes to prevent overdevelopment and gentrification. The zoning code is not expected to be finalized for another year.

The comprehensive plan also calls on relocating critical infrastructure and developing the bayfront facing Reynolds Channel into a walkable live-work space with businesses, homes and recreation area. The city may also redevelop community space near City Hall and the Stop and Shop complex.

Long Beach officials said the comprehensive plan is the first major update to the city’s planning vision in more than a decade and would update the city’s zoning code for the first time in more than 30 years.

The latest proposal was drafted and updated last month following three years of community input and 18 community meetings with residents. A vote on the plan was postponed last year after City Council members requested further review.

Former Long Beach City Council officials adopted a comprehensive plan in 2007, but it was never implemented after a change in administration and fiscal crisis.

City administrators renewed their plans to draft a comprehensive plan in 2013, following rebuilding efforts after superstorm Sandy flooded most of the city from the bayfront to the beach. The focus of the comprehensive plan then turned to flood prevention and reviving economic development to retain and improve the city’s business district after Sandy.

The city received two grants for a total of more than $260,000, which was used to hire the Woodbury consulting firm Cameron Engineering and Associates.

“Sandy changed all of Long Island and the metro area,” Long Beach Economic Development Director Patricia Bourne said. “The epicenter of change of thought was in Long Beach. Everyone was impacted and we had to change the city in every way.”

The city’s first priority was resiliency in flood protections, such as adding tide flex valves, which will pump water from flooded streets back into the bayfront during a heavy storm or high tide.

The city is also accounting for rising sea change with its comprehensive plan and zoning requirements. Other improvements would include permeable pavement instead of concrete for better drainage.

Zoning code changes in the comprehensive do not call for specific changes to height and density requirements. City officials said they want to preserve the character of the community to limit overdevelopment by keeping buildings consistent in certain neighborhoods or potentially increasing heights of buildings along the city’s main business district on Park Avenue. All new developments would also require sufficient parking.

Residents also told city representatives that they were concerned about gentrification, particularly in the North Park neighborhood along the western bayfront.

The comprehensive plan includes requirements for affordable housing and protections for landmarks, such as the city’s Martin Luther King Center.

“It’s important we do everything we can to allow people to live here and make it accessible to their family and friends to live here for generations,” Bourne said. “People are tied to the community, and we want to find ways for them to stay here.”

Long Beach comprehensive plan features

  • Storm and flooding prevention
  • Zoning changes to prevent gentrification and overdevelopment
  • Redevelopment of northern bayfront to include homes and businesses facing Reynolds Channel

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