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Crown Heights Board Moves Ahead With Controversial Rezoning Study

By Rachel Holliday Smith | May 27, 2015 8:25am | Updated on May 29, 2015 4:28pm
 Attendees of Tuesday night's Brooklyn Community Board 9 meeting shouted
Attendees of Tuesday night's Brooklyn Community Board 9 meeting shouted "Hands up, don't shoot!" as police attempted to intervene during a protest by activist group Movement to Protect the People. Later in the evening, CB9 voted to approve a controversial rezoning document MTOPP has been fighting for a year.
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DNAinfo/Rachel Holliday Smith

CROWN HEIGHTS — After more than a year of controversy, Brooklyn Community Board 9 voted Tuesday to again recommend the city study zoning changes in parts of Crown Heights.

At the end of a three-hour meeting marked by chanting, shouting and a constant police presence, CB9’s members voted 26-6, with 3 abstentions, to accept a rezoning resolution to the Department of City Planning, requesting that the agency start studying possible land-use changes in the parts of southern Crown Heights and Prospect-Lefferts Gardens.

The document has been at the heart of a yearlong debate over rezoning the neighborhood, which began when CB9 originally sent the letter to DCP in the spring of 2014. Opponents say that the process has already excluded them and their concerns.

Following intense protest by the local activist group Movement to Protect the People, the spring resolution was formally rescinded last fall and languished in committee ever since, stalled by both protests and a series of parliamentary missteps by the board.

Before Tuesday’s vote, the board considered and rejected one such misstep: the fact that the CB9’s most recent committee vote on the resolution — a necessity to adopt the document that was taken last week during a particularly hectic meeting in which MTOPP’s leader, Alicia Boyd, was dragged out and arrested by police — was not properly tallied or reported.

“Everyone’s tired of this entire thing, but, you know what, because we’re tired isn’t a reason to accept, pardon my French, a half-assed resolution,” said board member Fred Baptiste before making a motion to table the discussion on the rezoning until the CB9 committee could properly vote on the document.

But the board rejected that motion, agreeing to move forward with the vote to accept the resolution, despite its flaws.

Though the document’s language has changed since last year’s version, the major requests in the letter remain the same. In both, the board asks DCP to create new zoning rules that would preserve the existing character of the neighborhood, put height limits on new buildings and takes into account infrastructure needs.

Specific mention of changes to land-use rules on Empire Boulevard — a main concern for MTOPP — was removed from the recent draft. But, since the newer document opens up the entirety of CB9’s district to be studied, as opposed to the first draft that specified certain sections and roadways, Empire may still be part of any future zoning changes.

If DCP plans to move forward with the study, it could be years before the neighborhood sees any land-use rules change, which have to be approved through the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure.