Boerum Hill contextual rezoning considered

Neighborhood group supported 31-block rezoning plan, but one property owner requested relief for site. On July 13, 2011, the City Planning Commission heard testimony on the Department of City Planning’s contextual rezoning plan for Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. The approximately 31-block study area is generally bounded by Atlantic Avenue to the north, Warren and Wyckoff Streets to the south, 4th Avenue to the east, and Court Street to the west. The proposal seeks to preserve the neighborhood’s low-rise residential character while reinforcing the commercial character of certain mixed-use corridors.

The majority of the area is currently zoned R6 and characterized by three- and four-story brown stone and rowhouse buildings. An R7B zoning district is mapped on portions of five blocks between 3rd and 4th Avenues. These blocks were part of a larger area that was rezoned in 1991 as part of the Park Slope North rezoning. There are no established building height limits under R6 zoning regulations and the maximum FAR for residential uses is 2.43 while community facility uses are permitted to build to a maximum of 4.8 FAR. As a result, the area has recently experienced outof- scale development. 

Planning’s proposal would replace the existing zoning with contextual zoning districts to establish building height limits and reflect the character of the area. The plan includes rezoning 26 blocks to R6B, which would establish a 50 foot maximum building height to match the blocks’ low-rise character. Sixteen blocks comprising the area’s local retail corridors of Smith and Court Streets and certain higher density residential streets would be rezoned to R6A. An existing R7A zoning district adjacent to the study area would be extended south along 3rd Avenue to ensure a consistent character for the commercial street. The proposal would adjust commercial overlays to reinforce existing mixed-use corridors, and add commercial overlays to mixed-use areas along 3rd Avenue and Bergen Street.

At the hearing, Howard Kolins, president of the Boerum Hill Association, testified that the proposal would bring the community in line with other Brooklyn brownstone neighborhoods, such as Brooklyn Heights, Carroll Gardens, and Park Slope, which have already been contextually rezoned. Kolins pointed out that the association first pushed for the current proposal when it learned that Boerum Hill was the only neighborhood in the area without an R6B zoning district.

Local property owner Frank DeFalco supported the proposal, but expressed concern about the impact the plan would have on his project at 47-51 Bergen Street. De- Falco stated that he had spent two years redeveloping a vacant factory into a multi-purpose art center known as the Invisible Dog Art Space. DeFalco was concerned that rezoning the site from R6 to R6A would prevent him from adding another floor to the property. DeFalco conceded that he had not raised the issue during Brooklyn Community Board 2’s review of the plan.

The Commission has until September 6, 2011, to vote on the plan.

CPC: Hearing on Boerum Hill Rezoning (C 110252 ZMK– rezoning) (July 13, 2011).

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