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Rezone moves ahead

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The rezoning of Canarsie has passed its penultimate stage.

At its June 3 meeting, the City Planning Commission (CPC) voted to back the proposal, following a hearing on it held last month in Brooklyn.

The proposal now moves on to the City Council, which is likely to consider it before the end of the month, said City Councilmember Lewis Fidler, who told this paper that he was “thrilled” at the forward movement of the proposal.

“Two hundred and fifty blocks of Canarsie are going to be protected the way they’ve never been protected before,” Fidler stressed. “That should be a happy day. This community has been waiting for this. It’s long overdue.”

CPC represents the third stage of ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure), the legally mandated path that all changes in land use must traverse in New York City, in order to become law. The rezoning plan for Canarsie had already been approved by Community Board 18, and Borough President Marty Markowitz.

The Canarsie rezoning, remarked Department of City Planning (DCP) Commissioner Amanda Burden, “is one of the largest we’ve undertaken in the city and the largest in Brooklyn.” Canarsie is “a gorgeous community,” Burden added. “I am excited that this will now go to the City Council for adoption.”

Overall, the goal of the rezoning, according to DCP, is preservation. Burden noted during the earlier hearing that the current zoning “has led to out−of−scale buildings and higher−density development that undermines the quality−­of−life.” With 83 percent of the neighborhood’s building stock one and two−family homes, and only 10 percent multi−family structures, the revised zoning, Burden added, “Better reflects the distinctive character of this quiet residential community.”

Thus, areas of freestanding homes and semi−detached homes are being rezoned to reflect that, while areas of rowhouses are being put into a zoning district appropriate to the built environment.

The R5D district has been proposed for certain sections of the area’s commercial strips: Avenue L, Flatlands Avenue and Rockaway Parkway. It allows ground floor retail (with a commercial overlay), with two stories of housing above, but could also allow four−story residential buildings.

The R5D zoning has been one of the bones of contention, that has worried some area residents who have opposed the proposal for that reason.

Nonetheless, the plan found favor with the commission. Karen Phillips, one of the commissioners, praised the plan as, “Protect(ing) the low−density area character of most of the area,” while, “the wide commercial corridors have been given a slightly greater density that can accommodate some modest growth.” Among the plan’s features, Phillips noted, is a height limit of a maximum of 40 feet in residential areas. The R5D zone that has engendered the controversy, Phillips added, allows for “moderate growth,” while imposing a height limit on new development consistent with existing buildings.

“Anticipating growth of the population of New York City,” Phillips added. “I feel that responsible planning is a comprehensive approach that should attempt to find some balance of removing potential development density of additional housing, with identifying areas that can accommodate additional housing and services for the future.”

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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