Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Town Hall Event with Councliman deBlasio

Hello from Cord!
Last week we told our readers/signers to STAY TUNED! for the Great Town Hall Event with Councilman Bill deBlasio to happen this week to discuss
1) 360 Smith street
2) Our CG CORD petition calling for a moratorium and
3) Carroll Gardens re-zoning and/or landmarking options and timetables
A few CORD members visited Mr. deBlasio today at his Open House from 4-7 PM at his office.
We discussed all of the above points and received the following answers from the Councilman and his Assistant, Tom Gray:
1) The Town Hall Event which will focus on re-zoning and/or landmarking will be held after Labor Day on an unspecified date.
2) The permits on 360 Smith Street are NOT imminent, according to the Councilman, and the approval process at the DOB for 360 Smith Street has been slowed down due to the recent investigations into the architect, Mr. Robert Scarano, according to Mr. deBlasio. In the meantime, CORD has noticed SEVERAL strange discrepancies on the paperwork at the DOB already! Mr. deBlasio did not comment on these discrepancies.
3) A smaller meeting to discuss 360 Smith Street will be held sooner than the Town Hall meeting. The developer, Mr. Billy Stein, has not offered, however, to attend any meetings, to date, with the ACTUAL building plans in hand, even though approvals for these plans have been issued by the DOB, and even though this information is supposedly "public" at this stage in the process.
CORD is suggesting our members call Mr. deBlasio's office to persist in asking more questions and getting even more answers! The Borough of Brooklyn is our home, after all, and the Councilman is supposed to be there to help us constituents is he not?

Hello from CORD!
Today Cord is asking our readers and petition signers to please contact
the Department of Planning!
Amanda Burden, Chair, NYC Dept. of Planning, 22 Reade St. NY, NY 10007-1216.
You can e-mail Ms. Burden at this link: http://www.nyc.gov/html/mail/html/maildcp.html
Limit your email to 150 words or less. (The below letter "fits".)
Sample letter:
"Dear Ms. Burden:

We need your help to preserve our beloved neighborhood. The proposed 70' tall, 446 unit new building proposed for 360 Smith St. and 2nd Place is too high and too dense for our block! Second Place is a lovely brownstone street with 35' deep front gardens decorated with flowers, statues and fountains.
The developer is exploiting a loophole in the zoning law that is unique to Carroll Gardens. He can build bigger because 2nd Place is being calculated as a "wide" street due to the deep front gardens. The developer is also allowed to claim a "community facility" to gain more square footage for his proposed new building. Though it may be in the letter of the law, it is surely not in the spirit of the law. Don't let this happen on your watch! We respectfully request a moratorium on all new construction over 50' tall in Carroll Gardens until this issue can be properly addressed.

Sincerely, XXXXX"

Sunday, July 22, 2007

An Interesting 360 Smith Street Time Table

(This was posted on the blog: Pardon Me for Asking last Friday, July 20. Link here.
360 Smith Street Time Table

Memorial Day weekend:
CG residents find out about plan to develop 360 Smith Street entirely by accident! Residents respond with anger and outrage and begin writing to Bob Guskind at Gowanus Lounge. (GL posts the pics of the Heavy Metal Building to which so many respond with anger)
june 6:
deBlasio anti-Scarano rally #1.
Counclilman Bill DeBlasio (probably a GL reader himself) injects himself (!) into the middle
of this growing sentiment by calling for a rally! against the architect, Robert Scarano, protesting "illegal construction" and calling for the state to take Mr. Scarano's architecture license (see Gowanus Lounge and Curbed)
june 11
CGNA meeting and more anti-Scarano rhetoric from Mr. deB (#2)
From Gowanus Lounge "New Shots Fired....."
"This is a political question...I called the rally because we thought we had
an opportunity to change things, " said the Councilman. Mr. de Blasio suggested that residents continue organizing and offered to develop an action plan of e-mail and letter-writing, rallies and an online petition. "We need to take the power into our own hands," he said. He also demanded the removal of Mr. Scarano from the project. "He is someone who has routinely violated zoning, has unsafe construction sites and has violated Stop Work Ordered," he said. "To me, [the developer] can not bring Scarano into the project. Scarano is a proven bad actor." Mr. de Blasio said the community has "a chance to end the Curse of Scarano." (Public was divided over Bill's motives/intent/honesty/etc)
June 28
360 Smith Street building APPROVALS! from the DOB with Robert

Scarano's name on them! (#3) New public outrage towards deBlasio ...letters
sent to DOB/DeBlasio etc
July 16
Result? Too late!!
DOB SAYS: 360 Smith street approvals were already granted on 6/28!
DOB says Scarano is "innocent" until proven guilty!
(Million Dollar) QUESTION:
Why didn't Bill call the DOB on June 6 right after the first rally???

Why wait til mid July when its too late?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Contact City Planning Today!

Hello from CORD!
Today we are recommending that all of our readers and petition signers please do the following:
Please contact Ms. Amanda Burden, Chair, City Planning Commission! Please remind her that last week, we sent her our petition with our first 1500 hundred signatures and that
Please copy/paste the following letter and deliver it to this link: LINK

ar Ms BurdenOur organization,CORD,mailed a packet to you last week. It contained a petition that was born out of frustration over a development located at 360 Smith St/127-131 2 pl in Carroll Gardens, Bklyn. The list of signatures continues to grow.We would like to know where the city "planning" is in this project? This proposed residence may be "as of right", but how can city planning allow a building of this size/bulk to be built on a small street like 2nd place? How can this be plopped here with no consideration or improvements to our ancient infrastructure? There will be more and more projects just like this one. We are being invaded.Yet the schools, roads, sewage system,etc all remain the same.Community Board 6 says-nothing we can do-local officials-same story.Down/re-zone? Takes time--any permits requested beforehand are grandfathered in. You represent planning. What do you plan to do for us? Thank you.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Hello from CORD!
Many of you have asked pertinent questions about various aspects of the proposed development for 360 Smith Street, as well as the on-going journey of our petitions.
While our knowledge is still rather limited regarding the former, we can offer the following:

Here's the first of the feedback from the hand delivered packets containing the petitions:
1) The NYC Transit Authority's Lois Tendler, was the first to respond. They clarified the following:
the 360 Smith St project is NOT done in cooperation or as a joint venture with the developer. It is solely his project. They have no say in what he builds or how--
2) The plaza is owned by the developer, Mr Wlm Stein. NYCT has a pernanent easement--Mr Stein must provide reasonable access to the subway entrance.
3) The MTA/Transit become involved and must give approvals on activities that take place within a certain distance of their property (200') both above and below ground
4) NYCT has approved the concept of the plan, not the construction plans at this point
Once approved, there will be a NYCT inspector on the site to make sure that the work proceeds correctly and according to plan.

Sunday, July 15, 2007


This is a document the public should read! LINK
"Carroll Gardens: A Portrait of Neighborhood Issues"
Prepared by the District Office of Community Board Six
for Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association (CGNA)
November 2006
Excerpts from the text are as follows:
"Charming....Wonderful.... Stable..... Brownstone.....Close Knit.... Above the Rest.... A "Real"Neighborhood....... Home.....
"These are the words used by members of the CGNA Executive Committee when asked to describe their neighborhood in just one word. Collectively they convey an important set of community values strong and proud sense of place and being. Residents of Carroll Gardens have been increasingly expressing their concern over recent trends in the neighborhood, some of which could ultimately threaten their essential neighborhood character. Not being content to simply share observations from stoop to stoop.......It was the preservation of these community values that prompted CGNA to approach Community Board Six or assistance in late 2005...."

"...Economic pressure to overdevelop the built form of the neighborhood was resulting in the construction of out of character buildings which sought to maximize the allowable bulk that current zoning would permit. The loss of several "Mom and Pop" specialty stores, predominantly food suppliers , and their subsequent replacement with non-equivalent, national corporate chain stores and banks forced a change in personal shopping habits. It was the collective feeling of the CGNA representatives that the civic organization (CGNA) must be more pro-actively involved in setting the course for the neighborhood's destiny."

"When asked if the respondent was concerned about the height or size of new buildings in the neighborhood 91 per cent of those responding indicated that they were either very concerned (60 per cent) or concerned (31 per cent) the majority being very concerned. These concerns were evident in that only 5 per cent of the respondents did not favor stricter limits on the height size and/or overall bulk of the new buildings, 83 per cent did favor stricter limits while 12 per cent were unsure. It was clear that the neighborhood favors better land use controls to help insure the preservation of the built form of the community.Results were not as clear on the subject of whether to expand the existing landmark historic district designation......"

Given this document above, and given the overwhelmingly favorable response to the CORD Protect Our Home/s in Carroll Gardens, and given the extreme dissatisfaction with the overdevlopement proposal for 360 Smith Street, it is high time to demand concrete actions be taken to safeguard our neighborhood. CG CORD is calling for a BUILDING MORATORIUM effective immediately! No more empty words; we want actions!

Our numbers are rapidly growing and we will only support those elected officals who respond to and show an interest in us and our concerns! What are CB 6 and the local elected officals and the appointees and the community leaders and the civic groups going to DO? about the express wishes of the people of Carroll Gardens?


Read our petition and sign! if you have not already done so. Would you like to VOLUNTEER at Cord? Write to us at CGCORD@gmail.com!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


CORD has dropped off the "first" fifteen hundred signatures (we at CORD are only "beginning" to collect the signatures), and the written petition, and a personal letter to all the following public officials and appointees below. (All the petitions going to Brooklyn offices as well as Mayor Bloomberg's copy were hand-delivered) :
Mayor Bloomberg
Boro President Marty Markowitz
State Senator Marty Connor
Assemblywoman Joan Millman
Councilman Bill deBlasio
New York City Public Advocate Besty Gotbaum
Amanda Burden Chair, New York City Department of Planning
New York City and Brooklyn Commissioners of Department of Buildings
Peter Kalilkow, MTA Chair and President
Mr. Howard Roberts NYC Transit President

Please tell everyone you know: we need MORE!! signatures! People can sign here online, where they can also read our posts and keep up with some of the aspects of the story. Or, people can sign in person at the subway plaza (F train/Carroll Street) as there is a petition left there at all times and sometimes we are out there getting signatures in person OR!
Sunday we will be at the new outodoor farmer's market in front of PS 58 (where we were last week) getting signatures, meeting people, and buying yummy fresh vegetables, baked goods, etc.
Remember: All volunteers are welcome at CORD. Please email us at CG CORD@gmail.com if you would like to help out in some way. Thank you!

Reply from Mr. Kenneth Lazar, D.O.B.

In an earlier post, (see July 1, below), we urged readers to copy/paste a letter to Ms. Patricia Lancaster at the Department of Buildings. Thanks to all of you who did so! Today CG CORD and several individuals received the following reply from Mr. Kenneth Lazar:

From: Kenneth Lazar
Liaison for Intergovernmental & Community Affairs
New York City Department of Buildings
210 Joralemon Street - 8th Floor
Brooklyn, NY 11201

I have been asked to respond to your e-mail to Commissioner Patricia J. Lancaster, FAIA.

Currently Robert Scarano, Jr. is a Registered Architect in the State of New York. Even though he no longer participates in the Professional Certification Program, by law he is entitled to file plans with the New York City Department of Buildings for review.
Currently, the building at 360 Smith Street has been approved for 7 stories (Job # 302290777). The height is listed at 70 feet but will exceed that when the size of the elevator and staircase bulkheads are added, which are not counted towards the maximum allowed height.

Building Pavement Plans (BPP) Job #302337638 are always filed separately from a New Building (NB) application and in most cases are approved and permitted prior to the approval and permitting of the new building.

The Department of Buildings ensures the safe and lawful use of over 950,000 buildings and properties in New York City by enforcing the Building Code and Zoning Resolution. For more information about a specific property or to obtain the status of a permit, complaint, or inspection, you may visit our online Buildings Information System at www.nyc.gov/buildings.

CG CORD then asked the following new question to Mr. Lazar:
Dear Mr.Lazar,
Thank you for your prompt reply.
Although you say that the job number shows that the building will be built to seventy feet, and seven stories high (exclusive of elevator and stair bulkheads), why does some of the paperwork list the building at varying heights from six up to eight stories. Which is correct? Seven or eight? If eight is the correct number, wouldn't that increase the overall height?
Thank you again

Which Mr. Lazar then answered:

From: Kenneth Lazar
Date: Jul 11, 2007 1:36 PM
Subject: Re: 360 Smith Street

The building will be 7.

Why does Mr.Lazar never once address the conflicting number of stories on the DOB paperwork even though the DOB was asked in the original letter to Ms. Patricia Lancaster, and Mr. Lazar was specifically asked after his initial response? ......

Sunday, July 8, 2007

News Coverage

Many thanks to Joe Maniscalco and the Carroll Gardens/Cobble Hill Courier!
Thanks to Joe, columnist at the Carroll Gardens/Cobble Hill Courier, 360 Smith Street overdevlopment and the CORD petition have received factual, up-to the minute, and excellent front page coverage coverage two weeks in a row!

"SMITH STREET ANGER/ DOB approves plan for controversial building" (July 6, 2007)
"The architect is a curse on the community and the large, incongrous building he's whipping up at the corner od 2nd Place and Smith street is a slap in the face to the entire nieghborhood. That's how elected officials and residents clamoring for rezoning characterize the new Robert Scarano building being planned for 360 Smith Street" (J. Maniscalco).
Pick up a copy at your local newstand today!

"Nabe Calls for Building Moratorium" (June 29, 2007)
The owner of this parking lot on 360 Smith Street wants to build new condos on the site.
Caption: The owner of this parking lot on 360 Smith Street wants to build new condos on the site.
"Frustrated Carroll Gardens residents fed up with the pace of rezoning efforts are circulating a petition this week calling for a moratorium on the kind of large buildings planned for 360 Smith Street (J. Maniscalco)." Full story here

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Happy Fourth of July!

It's the Fourth of July so why not reflect on what the word DEMOCRACY means to you and your family, friends and neighbors? For a democracy to work for the benefit of ALL THE PEOPLE concerned, the people must speak up! Why not make an effort and contact the POLS over the next two weeks and let them know how you really feel about this important movement? How do you really feel about outside developers coming into and irreversibly changing your neighborhood because Carroll Gardens has no TIMELY down-zoning and/or landmarking plan? Tell the POLS we need them to COME TO THE TABLE IMMEDIATELY! See the links on the righthand side of our blog/ scroll down a bit....

Numerous blogs, newspapers, and people on the street are carrying the word, and to date we have 1000+ signatures in under ten days and we are still collecting!


Sunday, July 1, 2007


Dear Readers,

On 6/28 several building PERMITS WERE ISSUED on the 360 Smith Street site (as reported on Gowanus Lounge in the "PM UPDATE").

For this reason, we are urging our readers to CONTACT MS. PATRICIA LANCASTER, the Commisioner of the Department of Buildings (DOB). The following letter is less than 150 words and can be very simply copied and pasted to the link below. A poster can choose an "anonymous" box, or give an email address (preferred-how else can she answer?) where Ms. Lancaster can reply back. Thank you so much for your help with this issue!

Dear Commissioner Lancaster:
RE: 360 Smith Street/127-135 Second Place,11231
As head of the DOB of NYC, we would like some answers straight from you regarding the location above:
Why, when building plans have been disapproved several times to date, have permits been issued for pre-construction items such as curb cuts, paving plans, fences, sheds and some things we laymen cannot identify?
Why do some of the job filings on the above approved items list the proposed residence as an already existing building?
Why is the height of the proposed building listed on different job filings in a variety of heights from six to eight stories?

Finally, why when our Councilman, Bill DeBlasio has announced a joint Department of Education and DOB investigation focused upon the architect of record, Robert Scarano,would the Brooklyn DOB issue permits for any project of his at all?

Here' the link to Ms. Lancaster:

In the Brooklyn Eagle article by Trudy Whitman on June 29 called "Campaign Against Architect Continues" .....it states:
"City Council Member Bill de Blasio is asking for the community’s assistance in his campaign to convince the State of New York to revoke architect Robert Scarano’s license before plans for a residential building at 360 Smith Street are approved......" (Whitman)
"De Blasio’s email posting to the Carroll Gardens Yahoo group soliciting their aid featured sample letters to Richard P. Mills, Commissioner of the New York State Department of Education, and Governor Eliot Spitzer. The letter describes Scarano as “synonymous with bad contractors, dangerous job sites and out of scale development.” The architect, the letter continues, “has been relieved of his self-certification privileges because he consistently certified plans knowing they did not comply with all city and state regulations.” (Whitman)
As approvals to Mr. Scarano WERE granted! last week, CORD has asked Ms. Lancaster to look into matter and for you to ask her to do the same!


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........