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Triangle Squared! Rezoning Passes Two Key Council Votes

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The City Council’s Land Use Committee and its Subcommittee on Planning, Dispositions and Concessions passed the controversial Broadway Triangle plan Monday morning, all but clearing the way for approval from the full body.

After four years of planning, the Council’s Land Use Committee voted to approve the South Williamsburg rezoning action by a close majority, 12-6-1, on December 7 after a quick 3-0 Subcommittee vote. City Council was working under a December 8 deadline to act on the rezoning, as specified by the city’s land use and review process, but the Land Use’s vote signifies an action, terminating the ULURP clock.

Before the vote, Councilmember Diana Reyna (D-Williamsburg) made one final plea among her colleagues to reject the rezoning and send the proposal back to the drawing board.

“This rezoning is asking for the minimum in economic development and job creation and will displace businesses in the area,” said Reyna. “All that I have been asking for is a plan that includes the community.”

But Subcommittee Chair Dan Garodnick (D-Manhattan) voted in favor of the application because of the merits of the plan, citing the need for new affordable housing in Williamsburg, $400,000 in state funds and allocated through a Brownfield Opportunity Area grant and noting that the presence of small businesses “does not stop or even significantly inhibit the redevelopment of the area.”

“The ultimate goal of this application is to revive an area that has been underutilized and to create more affordable housing for a community that everyone agrees is in great need of it,” said Garodnick.

Brooklyn Councilmember Al Vann (D-Bedford-Stuyvesant), who’s district includes Community Board 3 which was not included in the planning process for the Broadway Triangle, was thought by Triangle opponents to be leaning towards rejecting the plan but cast a “yes” vote, giving the plan a majority.

“The plan failed to fully involve surrounding areas like CB3, but, I have a guiding principal of respecting community boards, and elected officials,” said Vann.“I don’t like the process, there was not enough consultation. But my overriding decision was dictated by whose district, and how the community feels. It’s in CB1, and they are for it. It’s their choice.”

Rob Solano, Executive Director for Churches United for Fair Housing, who led the opposition to the Broadway Triangle plan said he was surprised six council members voted against the plan, though Reyna said she was “disappointed and frustrated” that the plan passed. She declared the Council fight “over” and opponents will now focus on a lawsuit filed by the Broadway Triangle Community Coalition against HPD and Mayor Michael Bloomberg for allegedly violating the Fair Housing Act.

“We have our community who stood firm on rejecting a process that excluded them, called for transparency and gave our community an opportunity to organize, come together,” said Reyna. “How can you deliver a government for the people if people stand aside while decisions are being made on their behalf?”

The Land Use Committee made two modifications to the application, involving open space concerns for two small lots within the urban renewal area, which will send the plan back to the City Planning Commission to make the recommended changes. A final vote by the full City Council has not yet been scheduled.

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