Hon.Marty Markowitz May 7th,2008
Dear Mr. Bororugh President,
The Committee for Historic Integrity in Cobble Hill (“CHICH”) supports the proposed zoning text amendment to correct the inappropriately designated “wide streets” in
CHICH was formed to protect the essential character of the urban plan in Cobble Hill, and supports similar efforts in the adjacent neighborhoods. It is neither against development nor for rigid adherence to the past. Rather, it advances the proposition that the basic plan for these neighborhoods, laid out in the mid-19th century, produced a pro-urban, pro-family, stable and cohesive community structure, which continues today. That plan’s resulting mix of single-family and apartment structures, owned and rented, residential and commercial spaces invites both temporary residents and life-long members of the community and stands as an answer to other models which force families to leave for the suburbs or elsewhere.
The wide Places of Carroll Gardens are an excellent example of how this plan contributes to the success of the neighborhood. They are a treasured respite from the true “wide streets” such as Court
Street. Part of the success of the plan lies in the role that private homes play in contributing to the public sphere. While parks and playgrounds are a necessary component of a successful neighborhood, the front gardens along the Places contribute in a quieter, but equally important way. The rows of contiguous houses fronting the residential streets create a dialogue between the public and private that enhances the sense of community solidarity and integration. That effect is at risk if those properties could be developed to the same extent as an apartment on Court Street.
On the residential streets added bulk and depth would interrupt the balance between street, garden and house-front without creating any new dialogue or involvement in the surrounding community. This is the key reason why the zoning text amendment should be made. While it can be difficult to see the effect of a single house or single building redevelopment on a whole community, it is important to keep in focus the basic plan that has kept our neighborhoods stable and thriving for more than a century.
Thank you for you interest in this matter.