Friday, October 19, 2007

On Being Bolder than the Rest......


CORD continues to ask you to press on with our petition's demand for a moratorium on all new construction or alterations on any existing buildings that will ultimately allow those structures to exceed fifty feet (50') in height. We are not asking for a halt to all construction. We are not asking for a halt to all renovation. Our request is clear and precise.

Our insistence for a moratorium is a heartfelt plea to the Department of City Planning, our Community Board, our Councilman, NYC Council, our Borough President and of course, our Mayor begging them not ignore or abandon us.

We want them to hear that there are thousands of hard working, tax paying, Carroll Gardens residents whose voices and concerns are neither frivolous nor inconsequential.

Projects, like 360 Smith Street, and others of their ilk, in their various stages of planning or execution, have awakened angry feelings in the hearts of many of our residents. Many of us want to know how these out of scale and context projects could even be considered for our area. What type of strain will these very large apartment complexes put upon our already pushed to the limit infrastructure? How will the pre, during, and post-construction periods affect the safety of our homes and more importantly, the quality of all of our lives?

Are these not the questions that should be asked and more importantly, answered by City Planning, BEFORE projects, as large as these, in a low rise, mainly nineteenth century built neighborhood such as ours, are approved?

The answer? NO. The current zoning does not take the recent rate of development nor its impact upon our community into consideration.

Could it possibly take a minimum of months and more likely, years, to realize that this should be changed?

YES. The ULURP procedure for downzoning requires an environmental study as well as community consensus and city planning analysis before a decision is reached. And all the while, under the current laws, the building continues.

Is it not ridiculous that by the time the decision is finally reached--the very neighborhood and statistics that were studied are no longer even valid?

So here we are now. We learned in these few, short months, that somewhere along the line, when the ULURP rules, regulations and processes were designed, someone had the wisdom to see that there may come a time when some type of building moratorium might become necessary---even, desired. That forethought, made moratorium one of the possible scenarios of our land use procedures.

Because of this, there are means in place to address this situation. Many of the same studies and protocols that are required, for example, in downzoning, are used when assessing the possibility of moratorium. City Planning warns us that this too, takes time and construction continues during the process.

This is where we need the assistance, support and advocacy of our local elected officials. We believe, that with their attention, we could make this happen in a sensible, timely fashion.

Has a situation arisen yet where a moratorium, through the ULURP process has been granted in NYC? No, not yet.

Is it time? We believe it is.

The Department of City Planning is composed of an apparently dedicated group of individuals. Unfortunately, they have informed us that they are critically understaffed and completely overwhelmed by the sheer amount of requests from neighborhoods all over the city to be downzoned. Add to that the numerous individual developers needing approvals and/or decisions on their various projects. In short, DCP are doing the best they can attempting to fairly balance the two given the limited resources available to them and the limited time that they can devote to each request.

CORD has asked, from the very beginning, to grant us this immediate, temporary building moratorium and allow us to examine our options for the future of our own community. Perhaps downzoning or landmarking will be our choice. Perhaps both. Perhaps, neither.

What we want is a chance to maintain the integrity of our neighborhood, implement the proper and appropriate infrastructure improvements before we have nothing left of our neighborhood to protect or enjoy. We are not advocating no development. What we insist upon is thoughtful, respectful and responsible development.

While the frenetic and often hazardous pace of construction continues, as stop work orders mount and often dangerous damages/conditions develop to the neighboring properties of construction projects all around the city, CORD asks the Department of City Planning and all of the other ULURP procedure involved agencies and officials to allow us the latitude to decide our neighborhood's future. Let us help you plan our tiny corner of the city. We do not pretend to know all, but we are thousands of Carroll Gardens residents and we know our neighborhood. Surely we are capable of making an informed decision on the direction that would be best for our community. Guide us. But, please, let us work with you.


With the "Protect Our Homes" petition, CORD was formed in May, 2007. This petition arose as an overwhelmingly negative response to the coming of the over-sized 360 Smith Street Development at the corner of Smith Street and Second Place (Aka Oliver House; aka 131 Second Place). This petition, which had well over three thousand signatures, led to a new zoning text amendment in summer of 2008.

To: Our Elected Officials, Community Leaders, The MTA:
(MAY, 2007)

We the undersigned Carroll Gardens homeowners and residents, are appalled by the "as of right" ruling which allows owners and developers to erect buildings in our neighborhood with no regard to the impact they will present to our quality of life and the value of our homes........