Talk about telling tall tales!
The landlord of a proposed seven-story schoolhouse in Clinton Hill kept neighbors in the dark about its construction plans — then won the local community board’s support by saying residents knew all about it, claimed disgruntled locals while confronting the property-owner at the panel’s land-use committee meeting on Wednesday.
“Y’all went in front of the public body and said you had spoken to us and had not,” said resident Tracie McMillan, one of several who showed up to register their disapproval. “To stand in front of a public body and lie, that’s really messed up.”
Community Board 2’s land-use committee last month approved Unity Preparatory Charter School’s request to erect the new 400-kid institution on a parking lot at 32 Lexington Ave. between Grand and Classon avenues, after land-owner and housing advocacy group Impacct Brooklyn told the board — amongst other things — that neighbors were in the know.
But after catching wind, the denizens came to the community board with their claims of ignorance just in the nick of time to stop it endorsing the lofty learning facility at its general meeting on March 9, according to the panel’s lead staffer.
“One of the tenants took the chairperson aside just before the meeting and said, ‘We knew nothing about that … please don’t vote on this tonight,’ ” said district manager Rob Perris.
The proposed schoolhouse requires several zoning exemptions, partially because Impacct has already used the lot’s development rights to build low-income housing at 15 Quincy St. next door — which, ironically enough — is where the bulk of the irate neighbors live.
When Impacct’s head honcho appeared before the land-use committee in February, she described a November meeting with 15 Quincy’s tenants’ association, where a rep notified the inhabitants that the school was a possibility.
And she wasn’t lying, according to Perris — meeting minutes compiled by the tenants’ association show a potential new school was discussed.
But the project wasn’t set in stone and the rep promised to follow up before seeking out the community board’s endorsement — and that never happened, residents say.
“He said he would maintain contact with us and he did not,” said resident David Moore.
Impacct’s boss acknowledges the lack of follow-through, but blamed the blunder on staffing changes — the rep who attended the tenant meeting went on paternity leave shortly afterwards, and she didn’t take over the organization until December.
“I have no doubt that if this transition were not taking place there would have been additional follow up,” said executive director Bernell Grier, who took over the reins in December.
Still, the neighbors say they aren’t just bothered by the lack of consultation — they’re also concerned about the height and bulk of the new school, which would add to several new luxury apartment high-rises already towering over the area.
“The issue is with the density of what that kind of building will bring to our neighborhood,” said Classon Street resident Nichole Thompson-Adams.
The land-use committee on Wednesday tabled the matter for a meeting in April, giving Impacct and the school’s developer an opportunity to fill neighbors in on the details of the project — a meeting expected to take place sometime next week.