After weeks of deliberations, the City Planning Commission swiftly approved the rezoning plan for the Broadway Triangle, a 31-acre industrial site in South Williamsburg, by a vote of 12-1-1, setting the stage for City Council to take up the issue in a public hearing within 50 days.
“This rezoning addresses the neighborhood’s need for affordable housing,” said City Planning Chair Amanda Burden, who voted in favor of the plan. “The Broadway Triangle rezoning will maximize the production of affordable housing on city-owned land, and promotes the continued development of Southern Williamsburg in a manner consistent with the scale and character of surrounding blocks. The rezoning also supports the mayor’s city-wide affordable housing plan.”
For two years, several North Brooklyn community groups have wrangled over control of the property adjacent to the former headquarters of Pfizer, Inc., with a proposal from the United Jewish Organizations and the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council (RBSCC) ultimately being the one adopted by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development.
The proposal, which called for 1851 units of housing, 905 of which would be below-market rate, had advanced through Community Board 1’s Land Use Committee, its full board, and Borough President Marty Markowitz’s office this summer, as part of the city’s land use review process (ULURP), before arriving at the City Planning Commission in September.
Several CPC members who voted for the plan nevertheless criticized the process by which the rezoning came to fruition.
“I support this plan with the fervent hope that efforts will be made to better include Community Board 3 [in these discussions],” said Vice Chair Kenneth Knuckles.
Commission member Karen A. Phillips, the lone “no” vote, and an appointee of outgoing Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum, explained her vote as one critical of the process despite the significant amount of affordable housing that will eventually be available to North Brooklyn residents.
“It continues to divide this community, and with regret, I cannot support this project,” said Phillips.
Leaders of the Broadway Triangle Community Coalition (BTCC), which includes 41 organizations which claim they have been excluded from the rezoning process, said that the CPC’s decision to support the rezoning was a formality.Brooklyn Corporation A Director Marty Needelman, on behalf of the BTCC, filed a lawsuit in October against HPD and Mayor Bloomberg, alleging that the parties violated the Federal Fair Housing Act while putting together the Broadway Triangle plan.
“It’s very disappointing but not surprising,” said Needelman, an attorney representing the BTCC.“We’ve only begun to fight.”
While the lawsuit remains on hold at the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan, Broadway Triangle Community Coalition leaders indicated they would focus on lobbying councilmembers, particularly those in Central Brooklyn whose communities were not included in the rezoning plan.
The proposal that was approved concerns the rezoning of nine of 13 industrial blocks within the Broadway Triangle (Broadway, Union Avenue and Flushing Avenue in Williamsburg), about half the acreage, for residential use.
“We’re happy about the outcome,” said Emily Karpel Kurtz, Assistant Director for Special Projects at RBSCC.
Kurtz’s colleague at RBSCC, Angela Battaglia, who is also a member of the City Planning Commission, recused herself from voting.
©2009 Community News Group
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