Commercial Use Amendment Approved for Bedford Avenue Residential Block

Image Credit: CPC.

City Planning approved a zoning map amendment permitting ground floor space for commercial use in residential buildings in Williamsburg neighborhood. On December 13, 2017, the City Planning Commission issued a favorable report on the application submitted by 116 Bedford Avenue, LLC—owner of 116 Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood. This zoning map amendment would permit the building to use ground floor space for commercial use and bring five other existing commercial uses currently located in the ground floors of similar mixed-use buildings on the block into conformance.

The rezoned area would consist of the western side of Bedford Avenue between North 10th and North 11th Streets. The 116 Bedford Avenue building was built in 1910 and contains eight units. The area is currently an R6A district, a medium-density residential district. The application would extend an existing C1-4 commercial district located to the south of the area.

116 Bedford Avenue already has a permit from the New York City Department of Buildings for ground floor community facility occupancy. The five adjacent buildings, 110, 118, 120, 122, and 124 Bedford Avenue, presently have non-conforming ground floor commercial uses which include two restaurants with outdoor seating and three vacant storefronts.

On September 18, 2017, Brooklyn Community Board 1 voted 31-0 to disapprove the application stating that the application failed to take in consideration the effect the plan would have on the residents and current character of the immediate area, namely the “need to attract increased community spaces contrasted with the danger of attracting a ‘free-for-all’ development of pubs and bars” in this residential area. On October 20, 2017, Brooklyn Borough President, Eric Adams, issued a recommendation approving the application with the following conditions that: (1) applicant retains Brooklyn-based contractors and subcontractors designated as Local Business Enterprises; (2) encourage tenants to promote local hiring; and (3) create an operating plan that will ensure quality-of-life for neighboring buildings and their tenants, as a binding clause of any commercial lease.

On November 1, 2017, City Planning held a public hearing where a resident of an adjacent residential building opposed the application stating that the two existing restaurants generated noise and vermin, three other commercial storefronts were currently vacant, and therefore there was no need to allow another commercial use building at 116 Bedford.

In its report, City Planning found the zoning map amendment to be appropriate and that there would be no significant impact on the environment. The report did note that, although the Borough President’s request for an operating plan to mitigate quality-of-life problems arising from the commercial use was outside the purview of this application, the owner had made commitments in its letters sent to City Planning and the Borough President.

The owner committed to designate a superintendent or management company to address any on-site noise complaints, install security cameras, consult with neighbors on the level of exterior lighting, and require future commercial tenants to consult a sound engineer to recommend sound attenuation measures.

City Planning further stated that it was “sympathetic to the quality-of-life concerns” and strongly encouraged the owner to “fulfill the commitments laid out on in its letters to the City Planning and the Borough President to ensure that any future commercial use would be operated with minimal negative effects and with the utmost regard for the concerns of area residents.”

The application has not been scheduled for review by the City Council.

CPC: 116 Bedford Avenue (C 170024 ZMK) (December 13, 2017).

By: Dorichel Rodriguez (Dorichel is the CityLaw Fellow and a New York Law School Graduate, Class of 2017.)


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