Thursday, July 10, 2008

CORD/Coalition for Respectful Development Gives THANKS!


As you know, the City Planning Commission unanimously passed the Carroll Gardens Zoning Text Amendment on Wednesday, July 2nd..

We deeply appreciate and have acknowledged the Department of City Planning, Chair Burden, all of the City Planning Commissioners and Brooklyn City Planning staff for this wonderful first step in preserving and protecting our home, this great neighborhood, Carroll Gardens.

Now, as we march on to the final phase, the City Council hearings and vote, CORD would like to take this opportunity to reflect on what brought us to this point, and to acknowledge and express our sincerest thanks to our elected officials and their staff members and to all of you, who have so whole heartedly supported this amendment.

Way back in July of 2007, after numerous letters, emails, media and blog coverage, about CORD’S still popular moratorium petition, seeking a height restriction of fifty feet (50’) in Carroll Gardens, Amanda Burden, Chair of the New York City Department of City Planning, wrote to many Carroll Gardens residents.

She explained that although a moratorium was possible, it required the identical ULURP process as a rezoning. The contextual rezoning, which was the desire expressed by the community in a joint CB6/CGNA survey which had been conducted about a year and a half earlier, and committed to by City Planning, was still intended to begin, but no timeframe as yet had been established. Moratorium hopes as a way to save the character of our neighborhood appeared even bleaker.

Frustrated and concerned about what would happen to our neighborhood if left unguarded and unprotected, we continued to appeal to our elected officials. We are absolutely certain that it is because of their intervention and support, that City Planning came up with the solution called, the Carroll Gardens Zoning Text Amendment. It is by no means the cure all. It does not institute an overall height limit, but it does, at least, correctly designate the fifteen blocks covered in this amendment as the “narrow” side streets they truly are, rather than the boulevards some developers have succeeded in misusing them as. For that, we are truly grateful..

First, we would like to thank Congresswoman Yvette Clarke and her assistant, Deanna Bitetti. Although this amendment was not a federal matter, Congresswoman Clarke nevertheless, sent a letter to the Department of City Planning urging them to consider our neighborhood for a rezoning study. We have not forgotten that Deanna, going well above and beyond the call of duty, drafted the Italian language version of the flyer announcing that the Borough President’s hearing was approaching.

State Senator Marty Connor also expressed his full support for a rezoning in a letter to Chair Burden. Senator Connor’s Assistant, Oscar Jonas, memorably spoke on the steps of Borough Hall, pledging to support the effort to keep Carroll Gardens, “small”. He followed up those remarks at public hearings with statements that we felt captured the essence and passion of this wonderful neighborhood and you, its committed residents.

Likewise, our Assemblywoman, Joan Millman and her staff members reached out to Chair Burden and requested a rezoning. Her assistant, Paul Nelson spoke movingly of the Assemblywoman’s unconditional support of the text amendment at a Community Board 6 Land Use Meeting. His comments and that meeting will be remembered for a very long time to come..

Borough President Markowitz and Richard Bearak, Deputy Director of Planning and Development, not only enthusiastically urged City Planning for action, but backed up their request with hard information, numbers and a fact painted realistic picture of a neighborhood basically under siege by overdevelopment. The Borough President then went on to host a wonderfully attended public hearing followed up by a whole hearted recommendation in a ten page, comprehensive report that boiled down to a huge, YES!

Last, but certainly not least, Councilman DeBlasio, and his tireless assistant, Tom Gray, have been at the forefront leading the charge for this amendment. Whether you heard the Councilman announce back in January that City Planning had agreed to introduce this zoning text change, or you were fortunate enough to hear the Councilman speak at the Borough President’s hearing; if you experienced Tom’s personal flyer deliveries directly to the doors of affected homeowners, or his incredible patience in obtaining answers to literally hundreds of questions, there is no doubt that our Councilman and his Assistant deserve our praises and our gratitude. Well done!!

We also wish to thank our Community Board which genuinely considered and deliberated all aspects and possible ramifications of the amendment before voting, YES. We appreciate their thoughtfulness and applaud their ultimate decision.

We are not quite done yet……as we move on now to the City Council hearings and vote, we must ask for the support and assistance of each of our Electeds and, of course, each of you, one more time. We have had the following confirmed by Tom Gray, just yesterday………… the amendment is scheduled for Council Land Use Sub Committee hearing on Monday, July 21st. Per the City Council Technical Staff, it will be held at 9:30 AM in the City Hall Committee Room.

We hope that you will consider coming and speaking out at the hearing. If speaking out is not for you, then we hope you will come and stand side by side with your neighbors in a show of support. The next hearing will follow on July 22nd. That is the full Land Use Committee, Chaired by Councilwoman Melinda Katz. It is our understanding that although open to public observation, this hearing is not open for public testimony. Finally, on July 23rd, the full Council will meet and vote on the amendment.

Please join us as we move on to this final phase. And please do join us in expressing our gratitude to all of our Elected Officials who have helped us get this far.

CORD/Coalition for Respectful Development


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........