A local councilman vowed to block the city’s controversial zoning proposal that Marine Parkers fear would destroy the character of their low-rise neighborhood, he told a civic meeting on May 19.
Councilman Alan Maisel (D–Marine Park) told the Marine Park Civic Association that he opposes Mayor DeBlasio’s plan to let developers build taller buildings in protected neighborhoods in exchange for including below-market-rate housing, and he will try to muster enough votes on the Council to block it.
“My job is to make sure that I get 25 allies who will oppose this plan,” said Maisel, citing other members in the Council’s progressive caucus as potential allies. “I cannot imagine them supporting the Mayor in this, so I think we’re actually in pretty good shape to oppose and stop this.”
More than 400 locals packed Carmine Carro Community Center last Tuesday to discuss the dangers of the city’s “Zoning for Quality and Affordability” plan, which would loosen height regulations and in some cases eliminate parking requirements in order to facilitate the Mayor’s plan to build and preserve 200,000 affordable housing units citywide.
The plan is not likely to have dramatic impact on a low-density neighborhood of single-family homes such as Marine Park, but many nonetheless fear that the changes will set a dangerous precedent, providing a gateway for developers who want bigger, taller buildings.
“I’ve never seen a proposal quite like this,” said Paul Graziano, an urban planner who seeks to protect neighborhoods like Marine Park from overdevelopment. “If this passes, they might try to push through another city-wide proposal to increase height and density in lower-density zones.”
Many residents fear the proposal signals the encroachment of modernization on a neighborhood that is known and loved for its small-town atmosphere.
“I think it stinks,” said Jean Capozucca, a Marine Park resident who moved from Flatbush 43 years ago to escape the density of that area. “Developers will come in and buy up pieces of property and build up next to us, and there’ll be no air for us to breathe. It’ll change the whole neighborhood. Marine Park is like a piece of country out here, and that’s going to be taken away from us.”
The President of the association said he is concerned that the neighborhood will be overrun by development unless they oppose the upzoning proposal.
“We’re looking to preserve the character of the neighborhood and what it’s been for so many years,” said Robert Tracey. “We’re really looking to protect what we have.”
Maisel encouraged citizens to write to the mayor to voice their complaints. Petitions rarely instigate change, he said, but letters can make a difference.
“Elected officials do pay attention to personal letters,” he said.