Thursday, December 11, 2008

Where is the "fairness" and the "equity" or even the common sense at the BSA?

Where is the "fairness" and the "equity" or even the common sense at the BSA?

The Board of Standards and Appeals- The BSA was established to promote equity and fairness to developers in NYC. Its history has shown that the higher percentage of decisions favor developers, many who have commenced building and are suddenly presented with a zoning change.

The case of 131 Second Place is unusual in that instead of a zoning change, a text amendment was passed to lift an erroneously labeled designation on 15 blocks in Carroll Gardens. These blocks were designated “wide streets” in 1976 simply because they have long front gardens. At that time it was done without the procedures required presently, which the community had to undergo in order to remove that label and return to the true designation of “narrow streets”, as all other streets in CG.

The Boro President, City Planning and City Council voted unanimously to quickly correct the misnomer. Our leaders saw the urgent need to regulate overdevelopment in our small, low rise, historic community. This support was evident in Amanda Burden’s statement that “the DNA of a neighborhood should not be destroyed.”

Yet, the BSA feels that developers have “the right of way “in our neighborhood. The developer of 131 Second Place, does not have to abide by the new amendment. But every home owner will have to do so. The developer has a small percentage of foundation, yet it is a serious consideration taken by the BSA, even though that very same foundation is needed no matter what is built . The BSA has judged that the developer will have considerable loss if he complies with the new ruling. His loss is really less profit which may not be true if he built something like the more desirable and highly demanded town houses.

We have an amendment to control building height, but this developer can ignore it,on the grounds that he started his foundation, thanks to the BSA.

This developer is allowed to build higher than any home or apt. house in our neighborhood, thanks to the BSA.

This developer, along with the BSA, make the legal amendment to restrict height , and the leaders who promoted and passed it, look like a sham, a trick, a deception.

Where is the fairness and equity to the community and the city leaders who have fought so long and hard to save CG? Where is the “common sense” upon which all laws are based?

Lucy DeCarlo

CORD Co-Founder
Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn

Brooklyn Poet, Graziella Radici, who often writes about development issues for Gowanus Lounge has also written passionately about the illogical decisions that seem too often to prevail at the BSA:


GL’s resident poet, Graziella Radici, who has been on sabbatical in the Cayman Islands tending to financial matters, is back. And so, we are proud to present her work about the BSA.

Ode to the BSA

Here I stand at the BSA
In the invisible room for another day

A board says:
Bye-bye, to neighborhoods 1-2-3 but….
Developers: We’ll make room for you in a JIFFY!

Never was a view so clear
Where the rights of so many New Yorkers
Are trampled each year

In a democracy, community voices do really matter
And neighborhoods are not a thing
An ill-advised board can simply splatter

The BSA is a numbers game: cynical at best,
That immediately needs to be laid to rest

Oh how I wish upon a star
That Avella’s BSA reforms
Could see the light of daylight
Near and far

And that greed for once could take a back seat
So that we real New Yorkers could stop to weep.

c.. Graziella Radici 2008


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........