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CB13 kept rezoning under wraps

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It was Community Board 13’s policies that prevented City Planning from presenting its long-awaited Brighton Beach rezoning plan at the board’s meeting last week.

A City Planning source said the department was asked to first unveil the plan to the community board’s executive committee, which consists of Chair Marion Cleaver and other officers, then bring it to the Land Use Committee on June 9, and finally present it to the public at the board’s monthly general meeting on June 25.

“We’ve been following the board’s protocol in terms of scheduling,” the source said.

That scheduling leaves the board’s general meeting later this month for a public presentation. And that’s raised concern because the June meeting is the board’s final gathering until September and if residents have criticism about the rezoning plan, they may have to wait until the fall for a response from City Planning.

“To me, this sounds like blackmail,” charged community activist and former community board member Ida Sanoff. “The implication is you’re either going to take this plan or the hell with you because if you start and say this is not a good plan, more buildings are going to go up. The full board isn’t going to meet again until September and that’s another four months that the developers can run roughshod over us.”

Cleaver said the community board would likely hold emergency meetings during the summer to discuss rezoning plans for Brighton Beach and Coney Island.

“I keep telling the board to be prepared to work this summer,” she said. “I don’t want to hold this off.”

However, the City Planning source said the department doesn’t expect to meet with the community board until the fall.

Whether or not there are sessions between the board and City Planning, the department source said officials will be “continuing to move forward. It’s not going to sit on a shelf somewhere.”

City Planning has done its own share of stalling. The community board expected to see the plan at its March and April general meetings but City Planning never showed. According to the board, City Planning mailed a letter canceling its scheduled appearance just days before the April meeting.

Since the Brighton Beach rezoning plan hasn’t been made public yet, limited details are available.

The rezoning focuses on the blocks from Ocean Parkway to Corbin Place bordered by Brighton Beach Avenue, Shore Parkway, Guider Avenue, and Cass Place.

According to Pat Singer, president of the Brighton Beach Neighborhood Association, “It was downzoned. There will be no more high structures.”

Most of the blocks “wouldn’t go higher than 40 feet and I liked that. Four stories I would think [but] that would depend on the ceilings,” Singer said.

Buildings could go up to 10 stories on Brighton Beach Avenue.

“I don’t like what’s going up on Brighton Beach Avenue simply because it’s dark already,” Singer said.

As for the fire-ravaged bungalow community, further development would be permitted but there would be height and floor area limitations.

“They’re not putting a complete stop to the bungalow area but they have all different kinds of regulations concerning lot sizes for future development,” Cleaver explained.

While Singer said the plan “wasn’t as shocking” as she expected it to be, Cleaver believes there will be some opposition from residents.

“Overall, I think it’s very good,” Cleaver said. But, “I just have this feeling that there’s going to be problems.”

Community Board 13’s general meeting will be held on June 25 at 7 p.m. in the second floor auditorium at Coney Island Hospital, 2601 Ocean Parkway. The board can be reached at 718-266-3001.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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