Tempers flared this week as Carroll Gardens residents argued over how best to control “overdevelopment” in the neighborhood.
The Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association discussed different options for expediting a proposed downzoning of the neighborhood — including a controversial plan to latch onto an existing rezoning proposal for the Gowanus Canal area.
“We need to downzone to protect the character of the neighborhood, but it’s a long process,” said Association member Glenn Kelly, who suggested hitching Carroll Gardens’ wagon to Gowanus’s star. “City Planning is low on staff and there is a long line. … It could be four or five years [before a Carroll Gardens downzone is approved].”
By then, of course, development would build structures that would “ruin” the neighborhood’s low-rise character, supporters of downzoning say.
Carroll Gardens is just the latest neighborhood to join the rush to downzone. In recent months, neighborhoods from Dyker Heights to Green-Wood Heights to Fort Greene have sought “protection” from taller buildings that developers want to erect.
But many residents are concerned about the amount of time it could take before a Carroll Gardens downzone could take effect.
“We can’t downzone or landmark in time to stop a specific development,” said Zoe Pellegrino, who lives near the corner of Second Place and Smith Street, where starchitect Robert Scarano wants to build a 70-foot-tall building. “We have light, air, traffic and population issues that need to be addressed to future developers.”
Buddy Scotto, a member of the CGNA and the Gowanus Canal Community Development Corporation — which focuses on environmental, housing and economic development in the neighborhood — supports the expansion of Cobble Hill’s existing landmark protection into Carroll Gardens.
“The landmark designation [carries] a 50-foot height limit, and we need that,” he said.
He also favored linking up with the Gowanus rezoning effort.
“If the city is now going to rezone the canal area for housing, [it should put] height by the canal [and] protect Carroll Gardens,” Scotto said, citing a similar compromise that allowed developers to build tall on Fourth Avenue in Park Slope, yet not build above 50 feet in a wide swath of the surrounding residential neighborhood.
“That looks like our best bet now,” Scotto said.