Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Complete Borough President Recommendation Text is available at....

The Complete Borough President Recommendation text is available at:

It is quite long (11 pages) Below are some excerpts:



On May 7, 2008 Borough President Marty Markowitz held a public meeting for the proposal by the Department of City Planning (DCP) to amend the zoning text for 15 blocks in Carroll Gardens. At the hearing, a DCP representative explained that the proposed zoning resolution change responds to the out-of-scale development occurring throughout the area. It was further represented that the proposal would have no impact on the gardens in front of the buildings.....

The current "zoning loophole," as it is perceived by community residents, concerns many of the supporters as it has allowed an increase in density due to the recent wave of development. Those in support believed that a correction to the zoning text is needed to prohibit excessive height and

bulk in order to support the quality-of-life that makes the neighborhood so desirable. Supporters believed that the proposed text change will allow the neighborhood to be regulated under more appropriate zoning provisions. Residents also showed concern about the impacts imposed on them due to the many developments, and they believe that this proposal would decrease the number of construction projects. Concern was expressed regarding the proposed density and height for the building under construction at 360 Smith Street. It was noted that the proposed text amendment might allow its height and density to be kept in line with the neighborhood's character......
In an attempt to preserve the character of their neighborhood, area residents expressed that they were willing to forgo the extent of the allowable expansion to their property that the current zoning provisions will allow. It was noted that several supporters purchased in the area based on

The borough president received additional testimonies and petitions in

favor of this application that were not shared at the public hearing. The general consensus noted that this proposal seeks to curtail the spread of out-of-context development that is occurring throughout the neighborhood. Keeping the character intact along these blocks is paramount to some of the issues raised by those against the proposal. Subsequent documentation from CORD was submitted highlighting the amount of information and coverage pertaining to the text amendment proposal.

Those opposed to this proposal cited various reasons for their decision. A number of those who testified questioned the public process of the proposal. Many remarked that homeowners and tenants had little input and limited opportunities to voice their opinions. It was suggested that all property owners should be notified.....(edit)

Community Participation

Regarding the alleged lack of community participation in the process, the borough president believes that the turnout from the community at his public hearing demonstrated significant awareness amongst area residents. The number of people in attendance was one of the most highly attended land use hearings held by the borough president. While there is always more that can be done to have area residents become aware of the ongoing process, the borough president was very pleased by the number of people that gave up their personal time to provide testimony and stay to listen to what other speakers had to say. ...(edit)

As the proposal moves forth, community residents are

welcome to contact the borough president's staff for technical considerations pertaining to the proposed rezoning.


Additional Streets for Consid eration

The borough president acknowledges testimonies seeking to modify the application to include Union Street between Smith and Hoyt Streets, as it shares the distinguishing feature of gardens within the defined street.....(edit)

Street Wall Height

The borough president received testimonies seeking an exception to the "narrow" street wall height limit of 45 feet in the proposal. Though the street wall building height limit is proposed to be 45 feet, the Zoning Resolution provides an allowance 'for a building parapet to exceed such height by 4 additional feet. Thus, the actual building wall height along the gardens is nearly the same as the height of 50 feet suggested as the prevalent condition on certain blocks on "Place" streets. ..........

Rear Yard Extensions

In this neighborhood, between 80 to 85 percent of the properties would have floor area that does not exceed the proposed permitted residential floor area. It is likely that many of the properties will have enough excess development rights to extend into the rear yard for one or more floors. The borough president anticipates that if the proposed rezoning is adopted, future construction in the neighborhood would be more likely the result of a homeowner pursuing an improvement, as opposed to a developer maximizing bulk on an under-built lot.

Possible Displacement Due to Building Destruction

For residences of 3 or more families, the Zoning Resolution only permits the complete reconstruction of legal non-compliant floor area if less than 75 percent of such floor area is destroyed. 1- and 2-family homes may recreate non-compliant floor area, though no new non-compliance is permitted. ........

Appropriateness of Narrow Street Zoning Applicability

The borough president disagrees with the representation that the proposed text change is not appropriate given the ample light and air resulting from the extensive distance between buildings. This change is intended as an interim measure until a slightly more restrictive zoning map change initiative can be implemented. Therefore, it is anticipated that at least a significant amount of the affected area would be changed to a district with a height limit of 50 feet. Though such districts are more often associated with street qualifying as "narrow" widths, there are nearby examples such as Third and Ninth Streets and Sixth Avenue in Park Slope and, Clermont, Clinton and Vanderbilt Avenues in Clinton Hill, where the R6B zoning
district designation with its height limit of 50 feet were deemed appropriate
by the City Council, despite being along a "wide" street. Given the rapid
pace of out-of-context development occurring in Carroll Gardens, the proposed interim measure seems appropriate.

360 Smith Street (Oliver House)

The borough president applauds the developer of 360 Smith Street (Oliver House) for efforts made to address community concerns through the retention of a new architect and re-envisioning the building massing and materials. The borough president appreciates the developer's willingness to undertake the complex challenge of constructing over the subway tunnel on Smith Street and Second Place. He believes that the difficulty of constructing a project should not be the basis of determining the appropriate zoning. The Zoning Resolution provides for floor area bonuses when transit access improvements are facilitated. In this instance, the existing pedestrian access at Second Place performs admirably. Such access will essentially be reconfigured in order to provide an opportunity for the developer. Therefore, an as-of-right exception to the proposed zoning text does not appear warranted. The Zoning Resolution provides for completion of partially completed foundations based on technical considerations. Should the developer not complete the foundation on the date that the City Council might actually adopt the proposed text amendmentj the developer would be expected to pursue such an application to proceed subject to the discretion of the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA). Furtherj the BSA variance process is the appropriate procedure to determine whether financial hardship is relevant given the possible loss of floor area under the

proposed text change in the context of the added cost considerations for construction over the subway structure.


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........