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One voice saying ‘no’: CB18 nixes upzone plan out of solidarity with other Brooklyn boards

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It’s a case of neighbors watching out for neighbors.

Community Board 18 unanimously voted down the mayor’s controversial upzoning proposal on Nov. 18 — mainly because of how it would affect ‘hoods outside the Marine Park-to-Canarsie district, which is largely unaffected by the plan, a community leader said.

“Even though we are not involved in part of it, we got the sentiment of our neighboring communities, and it’s ludicrous,” said Community Board 18 district manager Dorothy Turano. “The whole process is ludicrous. It’s not a one-size-fits-all amendment.”

The so-called “Zoning for Quality and Affordabil­ity” proposal would let developers build taller within contextual zoning districts, which limit building height to protect neighborhood character, in exchange for including below-market-rate rentals and senior housing.

It largely deals with areas zoned for medium- and high-density development and affects only a few blocks within Community Board 18.

But critics say the plan will encourage over-development and ruin some neighborho­ods’ small-town feel.

Community Board 18 members are concerned that developers will buy one- and two-family homes and consolidate the lots in order to develop large assisted-living facilities, according to a letter the board issued to the mayor.

“These larger and taller developments will overshadow the low-scale buildings that characterize our neighborho­ods,” the letter states. “This ‘one-size-fits-all’ plan will undo decades of dedicated community planning for Community Boards, working with property owners, the Department of City Planning and elected officials in an effort to preserve the physical and aesthetic.”

It’s not a matter of tweaking the controversial proposal — the city needs to go back to the drawing board, the district manager said.

“It has to be rethought,” said Turano. “They have to sit down and redo it.”

The board joined a growing chorus of Brooklyn community boards who are opposing the plan.

In Sheepshead Bay, Community Board 15 members argued provisions in the plan that relax off-street parking requirements would make it impossible to park on the area’s parking-starved streets when board members voted down the plan.

“You expect to park in front of your house and you can’t,” board member Ed Jaworski said of current conditions.

Community Board 7 shot down the plan arguing it would have an opposite effect in Sunset Park and Windsor Terrace by encouraging developers to knock down existing affordable housing and replace it with pricier digs.

“All the things that they thought were benefits in our neighborhood are actually detriments to creating affordable housing,” said board member John Fontillas.

Community Board 10 members spent weeks in special meetings at their Bay Ridge office to try and decode the 600-page proposal, but found so many issues with the plan they stopped dissecting it before they got through the whole thing.

“It gets to a point where you recognize that what you’ve already identified is sufficient in and of itself to make a determinat­ion,” said board member Steve Harrison.

Civic leaders on Community Board 11 in Bensonhurst expressed fears that provisions in the plan allowing for smaller studio apartments would legitimize illegally converted homes. But board members none-the-less approved the plan and forwarded the city recommendations for lessening its potential negative impacts.

Coney Island’s Community Board 13 also unanimously panned the plan.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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