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Crown Heights Community Board Backs Land Use Changes for Manufacturing Zone

By Rachel Holliday Smith | April 10, 2015 3:59pm | Updated on April 13, 2015 8:52am
 Brooklyn's Community Board 8 is seeking to change zoning rules in western Crown Heights' manufacturing zone, seen here on the area's zoning map from the Department of City Planning.
Brooklyn's Community Board 8 is seeking to change zoning rules in western Crown Heights' manufacturing zone, seen here on the area's zoning map from the Department of City Planning.
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Dept. of City Planning

CROWN HEIGHTS — New rules to increase density, allow residential buildings and mandate affordable housing in Crown Heights’ manufacturing zone may be on the way after a local community board took the first step to rezone the area this week.

Brooklyn’s Community Board 8, which covers Prospect Heights and northern Crown Heights, voted to approve a resolution requesting the Department of City Planning study land use changes in the district’s six-block manufacturing zone, located between Grand and Franklin Avenues just south of Atlantic Avenue.

CB8's resolution at a meeting Thursday night comes on the heels of a yearlong fight over a another, more controversial, rezoning resolution that has sparked protests in neighboring Community Board 9, which represents a portion of Crown Heights just south of CB8.

Currently, the area in question in CB8 includes auto shops, storage facilities, “parking and junkyards,” said Ethel Tyus, a Crown Heights resident and CB8 member who helped draft the resolution.

“What we’re doing here now is asking for DCP to change their current rules…This may be subject to change,” she told the board before the vote on the resolution, which passed with 32 in favor, five opposed and one abstention.

The proposal would change zoning in the area to allow new buildings to be up to 100 feet tall, increase density by a factor of five and mandate that all new residential properties be affordable to those earning the median income, or less, in the district.

The board pointed to renderings of two soon-to-be residential projects at 608 Franklin Ave. and 1515 Bedford Ave. — zoned R7A and R7D, respectively — as examples of what new buildings in the zone would look like with the changes.

Members with concerns about the proposal focused primarily on the affordable housing aspect, asking questions of the board about how the plan would lock down affordability in the future.

Those who drafted the resolution explained that retaining control over affordable housing — and new construction, in general — is precisely why they want to move ahead with the land use changes.

“We know what happens when we have undeveloped land sandwiched between neighborhoods that are hot," said board member Gib Veconi, who presented the resolution with Tyus. "Eventually, if we don’t come up with a solution that meets the community’s needs, somebody will come up with a solution for us."

“The idea that this area will be undeveloped forever is probably not right,"  he continued. "The real choice is: Do we decide how we want to see development happen here — and who is going to be able to live in the apartments that are created — or, do we want someone else to decide that for us?”

Implementation of the proposed changes won’t happen any time soon. The plan must go through the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) first, a process that took about a year for the last rezoning by CB8, completed in western Crown Heights in 2013.

A spokesman for the Department of City Planning said the agency is aware of the proposal and will review it with CB8.

Read Community Board 8's rezoning resolution here.