Bedford-Stuyvesant North Rezoning Approved By Council’s Land Use Committee

Proposed zoning map. Credit: DCP

140-block rezoning proposal included new commercial zoning district tailored for blocks with elevated rail lines. On October 4, 2012, the City Council’s Land Use Committee approved the Department of City Planning’s Bedford-Stuyvesant North Rezoning Plan. The contextual rezoning plan would impact a 140-block area generally bounded by Flushing Avenue to the north, Quincy Street to the south, Broadway to the east, and Classon Avenue to the west. The proposal also includes new regulations regarding street-level transparency requirements for some commercial buildings in the neighborhood, which would also apply to Community District 7 in the Bronx. The proposal follows City Planning’s 2007-approved rezoning of Bedford-Stuyvesant’s southern half.

The primarily residential neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant consists of two- to four-story brownstones along the blocks running east and west, with medium-density apartment buildings found along the blocks running north and south. Larger apartment buildings, such as “tower-in-the-park” public housing developments, are scattered throughout the neighborhood. The majority of the area is zoned R6, with two small areas zoned R5 and R7-1. The proposal would rezone portions of 83 blocks to R6A, portions of 94 blocks to R6B, portions of 38 blocks to R7A, and an R7D district would be applied to portions of six blocks. The new zoning would establish height limits and streetwall requirements to ensure that new developments reinforce the neighborhood’s existing character and scale.

The proposal would also create a new C4-4L zoning district, which City Planning tailored for blocks featuring elevated subway lines. The C4-4L regulations would apply to the west side of an 18-block section of Broadway on which runs the elevated J, M, and Z subway lines. The C4-4L district’s regulations permit a wide range of uses and impose different bulk regulations depending on whether a development site fronts an elevated rail line. City Planning proposed the new district to ensure that adequate light and air would reach the sidewalk below the elevated rail line and to establish an appropriate distance between a building’s upper floors and the tracks. In addition, a proposed zoning text amendment would apply the City’s Inclusionary Housing Program to portions of Broadway, Myrtle, Bedford, and Marcy Avenues. (See CityLand’s past coverage here.)

Brooklyn Community Board 3 recommended approval of the proposal. Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz generally supported the rezoning, but recommended several modifications, such as limiting building heights on other sections of Myrtle Avenue and Broadway unless developed under the Inclusionary Housing Program. Markowitz was also concerned that upzoning Myrtle Avenue would lead to the elimination of existing supermarkets, and asked the Planning Commission to take steps to ensure existing supermarket space is retained if a site is redeveloped. The borough president recognized that many of his recommendations were beyond the Planning Commission’s scope of review, and requested that City Planning address his concerns through a follow-up corrective action.

At the Planning Commission’s August 8 hearing, L. Joy Williams, co-chair of CB 3’s land use committee, testified that the proposal met the community’s three most important goals: ensure that new developments fit within the neighborhood’s scale, create additional incentives for affordable housing development, and promote economic development through enhancement of the neighborhood’s commercial corridors. The majority of the rezoning area is within Council Member Al Vann’s district, with small portions impacting the districts of Council Members Diana Reyna, Letitia James, and Darlene Mealy. Representatives of Vann and Reyna testified in support of the rezoning, while James submitted written testimony in support. No one testified in opposition.

The Planning Commission unanimously approved the rezoning on September 5, 2012. The Planning Commission acknowledged the borough president’s recommendations, but found that some would be inappropriate or outside the scope of the proposal.

At the Council’s Zoning & Franchises Subcommittee hearing on October 3, 2012, several residents testified in opposition, claiming that the rezoning would prevent the expansion of synagogues and other community facilities in the neighborhood. They also claimed that the Department of City Planning had not properly notified the community about the rezoning, and one resident complained that the Subcommittee hearing had been held on the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. Richard Bearak, land use director at the Brooklyn Borough President’s Office, reiterated Markowitz’s recommendations.

The Subcommittee unanimously approved the rezoning, and the Land Use Committee followed suit. The full Council is expected to vote on the proposal at its stated meeting on October 11, 2012.

Review Process
Lead Agency: DCP, Neg. Dec.
Comm. Bd.: BK 3, App’d, 33-1-1
Boro. Pres.: App’d
CPC: App’d, 12-0-0
Council: App’d, 48-0-0

Council: Bedford-Stuyvesant North Rezoning & Text Amendment (C 120294 ZMK – rezoning); (N 120295 ZRK – text amendment); (N 120296 ZRY – text amendment) (October 4, 2012).

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