Council approves Bronx contextual rezoning

Proposed Webster Avenue/Bedford Park/Norwood rezoning. Image Courtesy of Department of City Planning.

Eighty-block rezoning encourages residential development along Webster Avenue and limits out-of-character development in Norwood and Bedford Park neighborhoods. On March 23, 2011, the City Council approved the Department of City Planning’s 80-block Webster Avenue/Bedford Park/Norwood Rezoning plan. The rezoning affected thirteen blocks along Webster Avenue between 193rd and 211th Streets and the surrounding residential side streets of Bedford Park and Norwood. Webster Avenue is characterized by low-rise buildings, heavy commercial uses, parking lots, and vacant lots. Bedford Park and Norwood are developed with a mix of attached, semi-detached, and detached homes, along with five- and seven-story apartment buildings.

The plan replaced the majority of Webster Avenue’s C8-2 zoning with residential districts and commercial overlays to encourage mid-rise residential development and promote new commercial uses. The City’s Inclusionary Housing Program will now apply along sections of Webster Avenue. Bedford Park and Norwood’s R7-1 zoning was replaced with residential districts that include height limits to ensure that future development matches existing scale.

At the City Planning Commission’s hearing, no one spoke in opposition to the plan. A representative of Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. asked the City to consider adding a planted median along Webster Avenue to protect pedestrians from what had become a notorious drag racing strip and building additional schools to accommodate the expected increase in residents. CityLand 7 (Feb. 15, 2011).

The Commission unanimously approved the plan. Acknowledging the borough president’s concerns,the Commission noted that Planning was considering whether a planted median along Webster Avenue would be appropriate, and that the School Construction Authority had allocated more than 2,800 new school seats to the district.

No one opposed the rezoning plan at the Council’s Zoning & Franchises Subcommittee hearing. Council Member James Vacca recognized that the community wanted to see residential development along Webster Avenue, but doubted whether the current plan would lead to new commercial development. In response, Council Member G. Oliver Koppell, whose district includes Bedford Park and Norwood, pointed out that the community did not want large-scale commercial development or additional hotels in the area. Council Member Larry B. Seabrook joked that there were no hotels in the Bronx, only “hot sheet” motels.

The Council unanimously approved the proposal.

Council: Webster Avenue/BedfordPark/Norwood Rezoning (March 23,2011).

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