South Brooklyn rezoning approved

Carroll Gardens and Columbia Street neighborhoods rezoned to prevent out-of-scale development. On October 28, 2009, the City Council approved the Department of City Planning’s rezoning proposal for 86 blocks in Brooklyn’s Carroll Gardens and Columbia Street neighborhoods. The approved plan replaces the area’s R6 zoning with contextual districts in order to establish height limits to preserve the neighborhoods’ existing built character. The area is characterized by three- to four-story rowhouses with some four- to five-story multi-family apartment buildings. Recent development has resulted in buildings that are out-of-scale with the area’s low-rise context. 6 CityLand 120 (Sept. 15, 2009).

The plan rezones 76 full or partial blocks to R6B, establishing maximum building heights of 50 feet for many residential east-west blocks. It applies R6A regulations along the wide, mixed-use corridors of Court and Columbia Streets and on narrow streets characterized by taller, bulkier buildings. The approved proposal rezones a one-block portion along Tiffany Place to R7A, reflecting the block’s existing seven-story buildings. Commercial overlays along Smith, Court, and Columbia Streets have been adjusted to allow an expanded range of uses and to prevent encroachment into the residential side streets.

At the City Planning Commission’s hearing, several local residents spoke in favor of the application, but expressed concern that the proposed R6A district’s 70-foot maximum building height would result in out-of-scale development along the area’s narrow residential streets. A representative from Brooklyn Community Board 6 suggested that these areas either remain R6 or be changed to R6B zones. The Commission approved the plan without modification, noting that the R6A zoning would only apply to areas where the majority of the buildings matched the district’s height, bulk, and setback regulations.

At the Council’s Zoning & Franchises Subcommittee hearing, residents reiterated their concerns about Planning’s application of the R6A districts. Council Member Bill de Blasio, whose district includes Carroll Gardens and Columbia Street, supported the proposal. He said the plan was a necessary step to permanently protect the neighborhood from over-development.

The Subcommittee approved the plan without modification, and the Land Use Committee and full Council followed suit.

Review Process
Lead Agency: CPC,Neg.Dec.
Comm.Bd.: BK 6, Noncompliant
Boro.Pres.: App’d
CPC: App’d, 12-0-1
Council: App’d, 48-0-3

Council: Carroll Gardens/Columbia Street Rezoning (Oct. 28, 2009).

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