By Patrick Hedlund
DNAinfo News Editor
EAST VILLAGE — The city needs to limit building heights on Third and Fourth avenues to stop the development of hotels and dorms in the low-rise area, a group of elected officials and local advocates told the City Planning Commission Wednesday.
A half-dozen people spoke at a public hearing in favor of a proposed rezoning plan that would restrict building heights on the avenues between East 13th and Ninth streets in response to the recent influx of high-rise dorms and boutique hotels in the East Village.
The rezoning proposal would cap building heights at 120 feet, or about 12 stories. It was introduced in part to prevent New York University from constructing more student housing in the area.
“The current zoning is literally destroying the neighborhood,” said Elizabeth Finkelstein, director of preservation and research for the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, a vocal watchdog of NYU’s development plans.
The college currently has three high-rise residences in the area, including a 26-story dormitory on East 12th Street that even NYU officials acknowledge is out of scale.
“Suddenly they were piercing our skyline,” said Community Board 3 district manager Susan Stetzer, noting that her office has been flooded with calls regarding high-rise development in that area.
The plan would also provide incentives for building permanently affordable housing in the eight-block area, and would allow City Planning officials to restrict the size of new large office buildings, dormitories and other community facilities.
More than 110 blocks in the East Village and Lower East Side were shielded from overbuilding by similar rezoning changes in late 2008.
The proposal now awaits a decision from the City Planning Commission before it heads to the City Council for a vote.