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Controversial Rezoning Forum Relocated, Leaving Many in the Dark

 Borough President Eric Adams, seen here at an event to combat child abuse in April 2013, is hosting a forum on rezoning on Friday evening.
Borough President Eric Adams, seen here at an event to combat child abuse in April 2013, is hosting a forum on rezoning on Friday evening.
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Office of State Senator Eric Adams

CROWN HEIGHTS — A neighborhood forum on rezoning that touched off controversy when the borough president's office scheduled it for Friday evening, excluding observant Jews and many others from attending, has been relocated to another site without the knowledge of many in the community. 

The meeting had initially been scheduled to take place at the Full Gospel Assembly Church at 131 Sullivan Place, but had to be moved to the same-named Full Gospel Assembly Church at 836 Franklin Ave. after a death in the family of a pastor at the Sullivan Place church, according to the borough president's office.

Yet many in the neighborhood — including staff at the Community Board 9 office, which initially requested the rezoning study — said they hadn't been notified of the change as of Thursday afternoon.

The change further exacerbated frustrations in the runup to a controversial meeting about rezoning part of Empire Boulevard between Flatbush and Rogers avenues.

“Our position in the community is that this [change] was a tactic to keep people from coming,” said Alicia Boyd, the resident behind Movement to Protect the Peoplea group organized to discuss the rezoning issue, who believes the miscommunication and rescheduling was deliberate.

The borough president's office — which did not not notify a reporter of the relocation when discussing the meeting on Tuesday — referred calls on the change of venue and the notification process to Richard Hurley, president of the Crown Heights Community Council, who they said helped them organize and schedule the meeting.

Hurley said on Thursday afternoon that despite the community outcry about the meeting date and time, “We’re sticking with it because of the borough president’s crazy schedule.”

He added he regrets the scheduling and location snafus, stressing that “under no circumstances” was he trying to leave anyone out.

Hurley said he spoke to Community Board 9’s president, Dwayne Nicholson, about the location change on Monday. Hurley did not say who else he alerted to the change. Nicholson did not immediately return calls for comment. But staffers who answered the phone at CB9 Thursday said they had no information about the change of location.

CB9 had requested a study in April by the City Planning Commission about possibly rezoning parts of Crown Heights. The office warned the borough president's office last week that they were concerned about the timing of the meeting, which is meant allow the community to discuss the study with Adams.

“Just a gentle reminder that we have Jewish property owners on Empire Blvd., who will not be able to participate in this forum,” district manager Pearl Miles wrote to a borough hall staffer last week.

Sterling Street Block Association president Carmen Martinez said she distributed flyers printed with the meeting's new location door to door this week to let her neighbors know about the change. She added that she isn’t worried about anyone missing the meeting because of the relocation.

"The information is being put out,” she said. "I'm sure they will have some sort of way to let the people know when they get there that there is another location."

Borough President Eric Adams said that Friday's meeting will not be the last chance for people to hear about the rezoning topic  and is open to meeting with anyone who wants to speak about it.

"This conversation is not a one-meeting conversation, so if members from the Seventh Day Adventist community, as well as the Jewish community, want to meet on a Saturday or Sunday  because I'm a seven-day borough president  I’m willing to meet with them," he said.

The forum on rezoning Empire Boulevard will be held at the Full Gospel Assembly church at 836 Franklin Ave. at 6 p.m. on Friday, August 15.