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Boerum Hill seeks rezoning

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“It’s a hard knock life” for Boerum Hill and rezoning appears more than a day away.

Calling itself the “orphan” neighborhood of Downtown Brooklyn’s brownstone belt, the Boerum Hill Association is requesting Community Board 2 ask the city for a rezoning of the area.

“We feel that it is imperative to rezone the 19 “orphaned” blocks of Boerum Hill from R6 to R6B in order to preserve and enforce contextual development throughout our entire neighborhood,” wrote BHA President Howard Kolins to CB 2 District Manger Rob Perris.

Boerum Hill stretches roughly from Court Street on the west and Fourth Avenue on the East to Schermerhorn on the north and Warren Street on the south.

BHA Vice President Dwight Smith explained that current R6 zoning allows developers to purchase air rights with little height restrictions, while property owners can build nearly to the edge of their land.

R6B zoning is a contextual zoning overlay that says no matter how much air rights that is accumulated you can only build within the context and character of the neighborhood, said Smith.

Additionally, under R6B zoning, property owners can build out on only about 60 percent of their property, he said.

“In Boerum Hill, it’s basically three and four story heights with some five story apartment buildings, so 55 feet would be the maximum height,” Smith said of the proposal.

Smith said currently on Schermerhorn Street, which was part of the massive Downtown Brooklyn 2003 rezoning, there are buildings 12 stories high on the southside of the street and even taller on the northside.

Then it goes to five stories onceit moves south to Boerum Hill along State Street.

“It’s its a very dramatic shift from downtown commercial to residential along State Street in that matter of a block,” he said.

“All the other Downtown Brooklyn brownstone neighborhoods are already zoned R6B from DUMBO to Brooklyn Heights, Carroll Gardens Cobble Hill, Fort Green, Clinton Hill and South Park Slope. Our housing stock is also similar intact brownstone rows,” Smith added.

Smith said the major commercial thoroughfares such as Atlantic Avenue would be excluded from the proposed rezoning.

The association is very excited about all the development going on, but we want it in context and character of scale. Thisis really the argument all the other surrounding brownstone neighborhoods have used as well as the need to preserve existing housing stock quality, he said.

The CB 2 Land Use Committee was expected to consider and possibly vote to recommend the request at their Oct. 21 meeting (too late for this paper’s deadline).

“Rezoning issues usually comes from the community to us and if we believe the request has merit we make our own request to the Department of City Planning,” said Perris.

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