board OK, CB2 chair sends panel’s views to beep
When Community Board 2 voted on the Downtown Brooklyn Plan last month
it failed to reach a consensus on a recommendation — effectively
taking a pass on its chance to forward its official analysis to the borough
president and City Planning Commission.
But faced with explaining itself to Borough President Marty Markowitz
this week, board chairwoman Shirley McRae and Land Use committee chairman
William Vinicombe submitted a letter on behalf of the board urging Markowitz
to consider the Land Use committee’s recommendations anyway.
Those same recommendations were shot down on Feb. 3 when the full board’s
vote — 19-17 with three abstentions — failed to provide a majority
decision of the 40 members present. This week, some board members questioned
the propriety of submitting recommendations that had failed to win the
full board’s approval.
“We did not have any recommendations to put forth to City Planning,”
said McRae, adding, “It’s not uncommon for a board chair to
write letters attesting to the work that had been done.”
In the letter, submitted to Markowitz, a copy of which was also sent to
the City Planning Commission, McRae says lack of consensus “does
not negate the concerns expressed by the committee’s recommendations.”
Instead, the letter explains that there was general consensus among board
members and the vote was over strategy — whether a ‘no’
vote with recommendations or ‘yes’ vote with recommendations
would carry more sway.
“The split revolves around whether the concerns of the community
and formulation of sufficient mitigations would best be accomplished by
working with the city during implementation of the zoning amendment or
by outright opposition to the plan,” the letter reads.
Several board members were also asking this week what happened to a survey
conducted by the board’s district manager, who contacted almost all
of the board’s 50 members following the nullified vote.
The board’s executive committee decided not to use that report.
“We look at many different avenues how to address a project, we don’t
always use all the avenues we discuss,” said McRae.
Vinicombe told The Brooklyn Papers that after discussing the survey idea
with McRae and with city officials, they decided the district manager
survey was not a good idea.
City officials say they’ve created the Downtown Brooklyn Plan to
keep corporate back office space in New York City,. It would make way
for upwards of 7 million square feet of office space, 1 million square
feet of retail space, 2,500 parking spaces, and 1,000 units of housing.
The plan, which actually contains 22 land use actions, also allows the
city to seize seven acres of private land including 130 housing units,
100 businesses, and a college.
The city pledged to invest $100 million in streetscape and transportation
improvements. But critics have called that investment “chicken feed”
and asked for much more in-depth transportation mitigation efforts.
Over the past several months, the community board worked to draft a comprehensive
set of recommendations including voting for the upzoning — allowing
for soaring office towers. It voted down all condemnation of private land
or evictions except for a city-owned site for a Brooklyn Public Library
cultural library in Fort Greene that would involve displacing only one
The Land Use committee drafted a list of more than 20 suggestions, including
mass transit improvements ranging from reopening the Myrtle Avenue subway
station to widening the platform and stairways of the Lawrence Street
Markowitz must render his recommendation on the plan by March 9. It then
goes to the City Planning Commission and City Council for a final vote.
Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010