Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Today's testimony features Rita Miller, a CORD Co-Founder

Last week's text amendment hearing at the Borough President's office was just step two in very democratic process---We will still need to let City Planning and the City Council know how we feel when their time comes too----but we are taking this process one step at a time! Please sign up for our free CG CORD newsletter at Feedblitz.com on the right hand side of this blog if you have not already done so. Thank you.

Dear Borough President Markowitz, Esteemed Panel, City Planning Members:

My name is Rita Miller. I am a Carroll Gardens resident, a CORD member, and the owner of two properties on Second Place.

I am unable to attend this evening’s hearing regarding Carroll Gardens Place Text Amendment Number N080345ZRK and therefore request that this testimony be read and placed into the public record.

There has been a great deal of discussion that has taken place at many different community group meetings, in local papers, and on blogs over the last year or so about the (not really) “wide” streets covered in this amendment. There has been a great deal of discussion, attention and even local television coverage while we toss around words like, contextual down or rezoning, landmarking, height limitations, temporary moratorium, resolution, and the like. Most recently, there have even been words like, secrecy, stealing, loss, mis and dis information. All of these words, these cries, all of this energy, when in reality, what most of us are seeking is, relief.----- Relief from the unprecedented development that seems to be attacking our streets like an infectious disease, a sickness bent on destroying our neighborhood’s character, integrity and heritage in one fell swoop. It assaults our senses and it incites community response.

Is development good for Carroll Gardens? Sure it is. Development with respect to the existing scale and density, accompanied with the necessary, proper infrastructure improvements lifts us all up. Development that robs the streets of their history, identity, sky, feel and soul, combined with little to no acknowledgement, never mind actual improvement, of the existing infrastructure’s inadequacies, drags any community down.

So where would we find relief?

We do not share the privilege of height limitation enjoyed by our sister, Cobble Hill and our cousin, Brooklyn Heights, although to do so, would be wonderful indeed.

Contextual rezoning, like our neighboring Park Slope, has been and continues to be sought. But, we are told that our time has not as yet come. In fact, there is no timeframe set at all, though time is of the essence.

Landmarking seems like a viable option, but beside the fact that pursuing historic preservation is an enterprise requiring a great deal of time and resources from an apparently ill equipped city agency, it would not afford the particular Carroll Gardens streets affected by this zoning amendment, any additional height or bulk restrictions than what exists today.

Temporary moratorium? Too controversial, and requiring a ULURP procedure just as contextual rezoning--- (Although, I feel I must add here that in light of the recent tragic construction accidents, evidence of a great deal of irresponsibility and unaccountability on the part of some agencies and construction endeavors plus the “ticking clocks” that are set off when certain changes are enacted, a mandatory “time out” seems more in order now than ever before.)

Even the symbolic gesture of the City Council Resolution Number 1214, to limit height throughout Carroll Gardens, sits collecting dust in the Council’s Land Use Committee.

And then, City Planning came up with this wonderfully creative solution. The Carroll Gardens Place Text Amendment allows us to at least, and at last, put these few specified blocks on an even playing field with the rest of the neighborhood. Is it perfect? No. Does it have drawbacks? Yes. All zoning regulations exact something, but, in lieu of doing nothing, it offers so much more than it demands in return.

I am very grateful to City Planning for introducing this zoning text amendment. I also wish to express my appreciation to Borough President Markowitz and his Staff, for the support they have demonstrated.

This amendment is a much needed and very welcome clarification of the fairly recently misused term, “wide street”, and will no longer allow abuse of that term on those specified blocks in Carroll Gardens. It will preserve and protect some of what many, including myself, feel are some of the most visually appealing streets and loveliest deep front gardens, in all of New York City, as well as pay appropriate homage to the designer of this 19th century planned community, Mr. Richard Butts.

The first step--a cry for help from the community. The second was the fact that each of you heard us. This amendment, a brilliant idea, is Step Number Three. We have so much further to go. Let’s keep moving forward. Keep us well. Please recommend Amendment Number N080345ZRK.

Thank you.

Rita Miller


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........