CB6 Board Member
RE: Toll Brothers Board Voting
Tonight you will be asked to vote on a spot rezoning along the Gowanus Canal for a high-density residential project proposed by Toll Brothers. We in the community ask that you take the time to consider the environmental concerns surrounding this change in use and ask that you vote to oppose this zoning change at this time.
Among the many environmental concerns one very worrisome issue is that, the proposed residential development would be built within the FEMA Floodway, along a waterway with an industrial water quality classification.
Even after the extensive rehabilitation work planned by the DEP for the Gowanus Flushing Tunnel, the Gowanus Canal will remain classified as an industrial water with a Class SD ranking. This is significant because this standard has no institutional controls on the levels of pathogens in the water.
It is the persistent elevated levels of pathogens that the Toll DEIS sites as the cause of the “un-mitigatable smells” in this area. There are concerns that these levels could rise due to the increases in human residential density along the water. There are concerns that these levels of pathogens are presently effecting and will continue to effect human health in the area--especially during storm events and potential sea surges that bring this water into the land and buildings.
It is imperative that the waters of the Gowanus be held up to a standard that requires limits on the levels of pathogens before this area is considered for additional residential density so close to the waters edge. Yet this is not the plan we have before us from the DEP; there is a hope that a higher water quality might be achieved through the rehabilitation project, but this is a big unknown at this time— the HydroQual computer models are not sufficient to gauge the long term issue of pathogens and the resulting poor air quality problems.
While there are many other concerns about making this zoning change, especially given the current economic conditions that are specifically effecting the housing developments currently underway along 4th Avenue; we believe that the environmental concerns are in themselves sufficient reason to predicate any change of use, involving a dense residential development along the FEMA flood way, upon a known and verifiable cleanup of the canal waters that include limits on the pathogens levels. By doing so, we will forge a united front of the community and those who wish to develop residential complexes within the FEMA flood way to finally find a process through our government that will lead to a water way that is appropriate for all the new uses we envision for the Gowanus waterway. To build housing along the Gowanus Canal, prior to achieving a water quality appropriate for residential use, has ethical and moral implications.
Please vote NO on the Toll Brothers Gowanus Rezoning.
Friends & Residents of Greater Gowanus