Rezoning would impact 181 blocks in Williamsbridge and Baychester neighborhoods. On August 24, 2011, the City Planning Commission held a public hearing on the Department of City Planning’s rezoning proposal for the Williamsbridge and Baychester neighborhoods in the north Bronx. The rezoning would impact 181 blocks generally bounded by 233rd Street to the north, East Gun Hill Road and Givan Avenue to the south, the New England Thruway to the east, and the Bronx River Parkway to the west. The rezoning area includes a 130-block section of Williamsbridge and a 29-block section of Baychester. Planning seeks to protect the area’s lower-density residential blocks from out-of-scale development and provide growth opportunities along the area’s major mixed-use corridors.
The residential neighborhood of Williamsbridge is in the western portion of the rezoning area and is primarily characterized by detached single-family homes, rowhouses, and small apartment buildings, with pockets of larger multi-family structures near the Bronx River Parkway. Baychester is separated from Williamsbridge by Laconia Avenue, and is also characterized by lower density residential development. The area’s three main zoning districts — R4, R5, and R6 — permit new development that is out-of-context with the existing built character of the two neighborhoods. According to Planning, the “generic residential districts” do not promote predictable growth and have altered the area’s scale and character.
Planning’s proposal would apply a variety of contextual and lowdensity residential zoning districts to the two neighborhoods. Williamsbridge would be rezoned with R4, R5, R5A, and R6A districts, with higher-density residential districts planned for major corridors such as White Plains Road, East Gun Hill Road, and East 233rd Street. New R4 and R4A districts would replace Baychester’s R5 zoning. The plan would also change commercial overlays in the study area from C1-2 and C2-2 to C1-4 and C2-4 to reinforce existing mixed-use corridors.
Bronx Community Board 12 and Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. supported the proposal.
At the Commission’s public hearing, residents generally supported the proposal. However, a group of property owners expressed concern about the proposed commercial overlays. Architect Orli Eshkar, representing the owner of 3510 White Plains Road, claimed that it would be more appropriate to apply a C2-4 commercial overlay to the property, rather than the proposed C1-4 overlay. Developer Mark Irgang agreed with Eshkar, noting that the C2-4 overlay would provide owners with more flexibility to convert their properties.
Father Richard F. Gorman, chair of CB 12, testified in favor of the proposal. Father Gorman described how tastefully designed homes with gardens had been replaced with “cold” block-style buildings. Gorman stated that he was a “little upset” to hear individuals recommending changes after an extensive community outreach process. He stated that property owners could seek BSA variances if they wanted to convert their properties.
The Commission has until October 11, 2011 to vote on the plan.
CPC: Hearing on Williamsbridge/Baychester Rezoning (C 110384 ZMX -rezoning) (Aug. 24, 2011).