Bensonhurst down-zoned

Developer wins exception to down-zoning. Over the no-vote of Council Member Tony Avella, the full Council voted to down-zone 120 blocks of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, carving out one area to retain its existing zoning in response to a Bensonhurst developer’s request.

Due to residents’ concerns over large towers replacing Bensonhurst’s single-family homes, the Planning Department filed a map amendment, proposing to eliminate the R6 zoning, which dominated the area and permitted as-of-right residential towers without a height limit. In its place, the rezoning proposed a range of zoning districts, allowing large residential developments along major thoroughfares, such as Avenues S, T, O and Kings Highway, and limiting development to single and two-family homes along the mid-blocks of streets.

At the June 15, 2005 hearing before the Council’s Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises, a Bensonhurst developer explained that he had purchased six single-family homes on West 4th and West 5th Streets between 65th Street and Avenue O, had started to demolish each home and was in negotiations to purchase two or three more on the block to construct a multi-unit apartment building conforming to the existing R6 zoning. The developer requested that the Council carve out the lots, allowing him to proceed with his development.

Following the hearing, the Subcommittee proposed a modification, carving out the developer’s lots. Voting against the modified rezoning, Council Member Avella explained that the developer had presented disingenuous information regarding the ownership of the lots.

The full Land Use Committee approved the modified map, granting the developer’s exception and sending the application to the full Council, which approved by 49 to 1.

ULURP Process: The Planning Commission, as lead agency, issued a negative declaration on February 14, 2005. Community Board 11 and Borough President Marty Markowitz approved. Following an April 13, 2005 hearing, the Commission approved the rezoning, finding that, if the existing zoning remained, developers would demolish sound single-family homes. The Commission approved a slightly higher density zoning (R5B instead of R4A) for the lots owned by the Bensonhurst developer, which would allow three-story rowhouses, commenting that a rowhouse would better match the existing character.

Council: Bensonhurst Rezoning (June 23, 2005); CPC: Bensonhurst Rezoning (C 050296 ZMK) (May 25, 2005). CITYADMIN

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