Friday, June 26, 2009

Carroll Gardens Unites!

Harmony Reigns!

Tonight, at Long Island College Hospital, Community Board 6 Land Use/Landmarks Committee met to listen to and hold a public hearing on the Carroll Gardens/Columbia Waterfront Rezoning Proposal.

As is done at every public hearing, the speakers were asked to sign in on a list and specify whether they would be speaking for (pro) or against (con) the proposal.

The pro and con lists were almost equal in length. What was truly unique about tonight's hearing, was that all of the speakers, regardless of listed stance, all basically were saying the same thing.

Because of this, the atmosphere at the meeting was completely non contentious. It was an amazing example of community members harmoniously coming together to speak about their concerns for the character of their neighborhood and their love of their surroundings. Regardless of which list the speaker chose to list him or herself, the message that came through was one of a strong belief in preserving and protecting both Carroll Gardens and the Columbia Waterfront.

We are including below*, a statement from CORD delivered by member Rita Miller at the hearing.

Purnima Kapur, Brooklyn City Planning Commissioner was equally invested in maintaining the character and context of the area, but patiently explained that we must work with the zoning tools available in order to achieve the closest fit possible.

Her sincerity and willingness to work with the community as a whole, one on one, by telephone or face to face meeting is another example of how important it is to her and her staff to reach a solution that both preserves the area and remains within the zoning code.

Unfortunately, there is no brownstone district-appropriate zoning category available......

After committee discussion, Jerry Armer motioned that the committee vote for the proposal with some conditions....the conditions reflecting most of the comments made by the community regarding their concerns. Roy Sloane seconded the motion and added that the community board land use/landmarks committee wanted to truly represent the community's wishes through their vote.

The committee vote was unanimously in favor of the proposal with the stated conditions.

Next step is the Borough President's public hearing----date to be determined.


* My name is Rita Miller. On behalf of CORD, I wish to thank city planning for working so closely with the community on this rezoning proposal.

CORD appreciates and applauds their efforts to preserve and protect our neighborhood and with few exceptions, we feel that this proposal really propels us in that direction.
We would like to begin with the things we like best:

We welcome the R6B contextual classification as proposed for so many of our streets .
We love the innovative way city planning has approached the commercial overlay issue. This is key in the protection and preservation of our side streets.

We appreciate your carving out the properties most at risk for out of character development on the two corners of Degraw Street. It is fabulous that you combined the Columbia Waterfront district with Carroll Gardens in this proposal.

But, there are some things that we feel could still use a bit of tweaking:

CORD has always expressed the desire to limit height in Carroll Gardens.

And, although we understand the great amount of work and thought that has gone into this proposal , it is still a bitter pill to swallow that we are going to lose the ground we fought for together on First Place. Also, although we understand that the likelihood of heights reaching the seventy foot maximum permitted under the proposed R6A designation along First Place, Clinton ,Henry and even some areas along Court Street is small, it is still possible under this proposal.

The fact that some of the as built conditions along these blocks are a bit larger than what would ordinarily be classified as R6B, combined with the lack of a more brownstone district-friendly category , opens up the possibility of future, larger scale development. This is a matter of some concern.

It is unfortunate that we cannot more closely safeguard the visual aesthetic and continuity that now exists as one travels the short distance from Carroll Gardens to our sister neighborhood, Cobble Hill—where everyone enjoys the absolute certainty of height restriction.

So, it is with the deepest respect , that CORD requests less R6A and more R6B---and/or some sort of zoning provision that could further insure us against the type of developments that we know have the power to irrevocably change the face and rend the fabric of our historic neighborhood.

Lastly, way back in August of 2007, Councilman DeBlasio informed us that this rezoning process would eventually take place. Finally, we are on our way. CORD acknowledges his efforts , and we wish to express our appreciation for the tireless, resolute , volunteer work contributed by John Hatheway and Glenn Kelly of the CGNA.

Rita Miller, CORD Co-Founder


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........