Nelson: More buildings, fewer yards

The Brooklyn Paper
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With the city’s downzoning plan for Brighton Beach dead in the water, City Councilmember Mike Nelson says he’s pushing his own plan — one that would allow bungalow residents to construct larger homes instead of front and side yards.

While the Department of City Planning had advocated constructing smaller buildings with ample yards in the bungalow district, the “Nelson Plan” would allow bungalow residents to forgo the yards and create wider buildings with a higher floor area ratio (FAR).

“Having more space, yardage and more airflow is nice but the most important thing to human beings is having space to live with their families,” Nelson told this paper. “If they want to take over the yard and get the room for their families, that’s fine. It’s nothing different than all the buildings that have been in existence throughout New York’s history.”

City officials had advocated against the construction of buildings from lot line to lot line because it would create “little towers” lacking access to air and light and inaccessible to fire trucks.

Nelson hopes to get his rezoning plan approved via an “alternate” process, which would include passage by Community Board 13, the borough president, City Council, and Department of City Planning, which withdrew its proposed rezoning plan after reaching a stalemate in negotiations with Nelson.

If that doesn’t work, Nelson hopes City Planning officials would once again consider rezoning Brighton.

“I’m hoping that they will come back after their egos calm down and I would be able to get them to do downzoning, and yet to do a cutout to protect the bungalow owners,” Nelson said.

A City Planning source said it’s unlikely that officials will again attempt to rezone Brighton Beach since residents made it clear that “they wanted to keep the existing zoning.”

Even if Brighton Beach is never downzoned, Nelson says he will “go to my grave” believing he was right to oppose the city’s rezoning plan.

“I absolutely will be satisfied that I did what was right for my populous, those who would be the most adversely impacted by the City Planning Board’s plan,” Nelson said. “I will be happy and proud and go to my grave knowing I did the right thing for all of those people.”

While bungalow owners applaud Nelson, others blame him for the demise of the city’s plan and say Brighton — and its already taxed infrastructure of electric, gas, water and sewer lines — will be overwhelmed if there are more sky-high developments.

“He knew exactly what he was doing,” said Brighton resident Ida Sanoff. The neighborhood is “destroyed,” she said.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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