Berry Street commercial overlay proposal modified

North Williamsburg restaurant requested rezoning in order to reestablish sidewalk cafe. On July 28, 2011, the City Council’s Land Use Committee modified and approved Teddy’s Bar and Grill’s rezoning proposal for a portion of Berry Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Teddy’s is located at the corner of Berry and North 8th Street. Teddy’s originally proposed applying a C2-4 overlay from the northwest corner of North 7th Street to a mid-block point between North 9th and North 10th Streets. The plan would have impacted 22 lots, nine of which are occupied by commercial businesses. The area was rezoned from an R6/M1-2 mixed-use district to an R6B district as part of the 2005 Greenpoint-Williamsburg Rezoning. 2 CityLand 67 (June 15, 2006). Teddy’s proposed the rezoning to re-establish a sidewalk cafe it lost after the 2005 rezoning.

Brooklyn Community Board 1 approved the rezoning. Borough President Marty Markowitz recommended modifying the plan to apply a C1-4 commercial overlay to an area extending only to North 9th Street. According to Markowitz, the more restrictive C1-4 district would still permit sidewalk cafes, but prevent uses less desirable to nearby residents, such as home maintenance and repair businesses. 

At the City Planning Commission’s public hearing, residents spoke both for and against the proposal. Opponents were concerned that the rezoning would lead to an increase in commercial development and property taxes in the neighborhood. Anthony Martin, who lives on North 9th Street, submitted a petition signed by more than 200 residents in opposition to the rezoning. Martin argued that the proposal’s “essential flaw” was that a single business was proposing a three-block rezoning in order to restore an eight-table sidewalk cafe.

Attorney Fredrick Becker, representing Teddy’s, pointed out that the rezoning would bring the nine commercial properties within the study area into compliance with the zoning regulations. According to Becker, the C2-4 overlay would not change the block’s permissible floor area ratio and would not lead to new commercial development due to the structural configurations of the buildings within the rezoning area. Becker stated that Teddy’s would be amenable to modifying the proposal by limiting the commercial overlay to below North 9th Street or changing it to a C1-4 overlay.

The Commission unanimously approved the rezoning. The Commission acknowledged the resident’s concerns, but found that the area’s mixed-use character was consistent with the types of development permitted within a C2 district.

At the Council’s Zoning & Franchises Subcommittee hearing, Fredrick Becker and Felice Kirby, a co-owner of Teddy’s, testified in support of the proposal. Kirby, who lives above the restaurant, claimed that the loss of Teddy’s sidewalk cafe following the 2005 rezoning had a severe economic impact on the restaurant. Council Members Jessica S. Lappin and Diana Reyna commended Teddy’s for being a good neighbor.

Council Member Stephen Levin, whose district includes Teddy’s, supported the rezoning, but recommended that the C2-4 overlay only apply to the area bounded by North 7th Street and the mid-block point between North 8th and North 9th Streets.

The Subcommittee approved the proposal with Levin’s modification, and the Land Use Committee followed suit. The modified proposal was forwarded to the City Planning Commission for review.

Council: Teddy’s Bar and Grill (C 080491 ZMK – rezoning) (July 28, 2011).

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