Zoning challenge

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Carroll Gardens’ wide street text amendment is heading for a public hearing before the City Planning Commission this week with official support from both Community Board 6 and Borough President Marty Markowitz, but critics still want to put on the brakes on it.

Supporters of the measure believe that it represents the first tangible step to rezoning Carroll Gardens against overdevelopment.

Opponents, however, have argued that the zoning text amendment will hurt existing homeowners interested in enhancing their properties.

In addition to those concerns, those same critics are now charging that the proposed changes will actually contribute taller buildings on Carroll Gardens’ signature Place blocks.

According to 2nd Place resident Judith Thompson the text amendment if ultimately approved would create a “dangerous situation that did not exist before” by actually inducing developers to build 13-story high-rises on presently low-rise blocks.

The proposed zoning text amendment seeks to reduce the existing Floor Area Ratio or FAR from 3.0 to 2.2, but opponent say that developers could combine lots and exploit height factor rules resulting in the kinds of towering structures many in Carroll Gardens believe will ruin the community.

Supporters dismiss such concerns as a red herring and an effort to spread fear in the community.

This week Tom Gray, district director for City Councilmember Bill de Blasio, said that “City Planning does not anticipate the use of height factor zoning on any of the lots impacted.”

According to Gray properties affected by the zoning text amendment are too small to utilize height factor zoning while larger lots like the ones at 340 Court and 360 Smith streets have opted build under the quality housing program.

Critics, however, remain wary.

Neighborhood civics like the Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association and CORD [Carroll Gardens Organization for Respectful Development], as well as de Blasio, have been pushing hard to get the zoning text amendment passed.

The City Planning Commission’ hearing on the zoning text amendment will be held at 10 a.m. on June 4 inside Spector Hall, 22 Reade Street in Manhattan.

If approved, the measure will be sent to the New York City Council for consideration. There will be another public hearing at that time.

Updated 3:46 pm, October 19, 2011
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