City increases zoning protection for Bay Ridge

New zoning designed to protect Bay Ridge from high-density development. On March 23, 2005, the City Council approved the Planning Department’s rezoning plan for a 249-block area within Brooklyn’s Special Bay Ridge District, bounded by 65th Street to the north, Seventh Avenue to the east and Shore Road to the south and west. In 1978, after neighborhood residents protested the development of three large residential buildings, the twin 30-story Bay Ridge Towers and the 13-story Shore Hill Apartments, the City established the Special Bay Ridge District. The 1978 zoning generally restricted construction to three stories on residential streets and eight stories on the avenues.

The current down-zoning resulted from additional lobbying by Bay Ridge residents who, even after the special district was established, felt that it was not enough to protect their neighborhood from over-development and the proliferation of “Fedders houses,” named after the air-conditioning units that protrude from the outside walls. In February 2003, residents sought support of newly elected Council member Vincent Gentile, who developed a Preservation Task Force to address their concerns.

A study of Bay Ridge found that the disparity between the built context and the larger buildings permitted by the zoning created incentives to demolish sound, existing single-family housing and replace it with larger as-of-right apartments.

The map and text amendments before the Council replaced the existing zoning districts with lower density and contextual zoning districts. Areas restricted to single-family or two-family homes increased from 33 to 101 blocks.

To expedite its approval, the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises held a special meeting on March 22, 2005. At the hearing, representatives of Brooklyn Community Board 10, Council Member Gentile’s Preservation Task Force and the Alliance of Bay Ridge Block Associations testified in favor of the proposed rezoning. Regina Myer, Director of the Planning Department’s Brooklyn office, noted that the rezoning fulfilled Mayor Bloomberg’s commitment to protect low-density neighborhoods. Council Member Gentile, in support, stated that the comprehensive proposal was the result of the collaborative work of Community Board 10 and the Planning Department.

City Council’s Land Use Committee and the full Council approved the rezoning on March 23, 2005.

ULURP Process: The Planning Commission, as lead agency, issued a negative declaration on October 18, 2004 and a revised negative declaration on March 2, 2005. Brooklyn’s Community Board 10 unanimously approved the application on December 20, 2004 by a vote of 41 to 0 with recommended changes. On January 21, 2005, Borough President Marty Markowitz approved.

On January 6, 2005, the Planning Commission, in adopting the Community Board’s recommendations, modified the rezoning to add additional protection for four areas: a portion of Third Avenue, 76th Street and 77th Street, and two sections of Ridge Parkway. At the Planning Commission’s February 2, 2005 public hearing, four individual property owners concerned about the impact of the rezoning on their land values spoke in opposition. The Commission approved on March 2, 2005.

Council: Bay Ridge Rezoning (March 23, 2005); CPC: Bay Ridge Rezoning (C 050134(A) ZMK – map amendment); (C 050133 ZMK – text amendment) (March 2, 2005). CITYADMIN

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