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Steering Committee Prepares to Hand Rezoning Proposal to the City

By Gustavo Solis | January 29, 2016 12:25pm | Updated on January 31, 2016 6:21pm
 Hundreds of residents attended a community forum at El Museo del Barrio to find out what recommendations the Steering Committee has for the rezoning plan. 
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EAST HARLEM — Residents have until Sunday to let the rezoning officials know what they want see out of El Barrio redevelopment.

The Steering Committee created by Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito will give their proposal to the Department of City Planning after the community has a chance to weigh in. The mayor wants to rezone East Harlem and five other neighborhoods to increase affordable housing in the city.

“I’m extremely proud of the work that we all have engaged in together,” the speaker said during a public forum Wednesday night that included free food and a live band at El Museo Del Barrio. “No process is perfect, not every single person will be happy but we can say with pride that our voice is at the table and that our concerns are being heard. We are making history here in East Harlem we should all be proud that we are doing that."

The committee spent nine months hosting public meetings with the community and private meetings among themselves to draft their proposal. 

Recommendations include rezoning parts of every avenue between Madison and First avenues to allow for more density and affordable housing requirements. Some also called for more funding to NYCHA, opening a workforce center, and using local income levels to establish affordability levels.

People can vote online for recommendations they feel are most important so that the steering committee can prioritize them before handing them over to City Planning. There is also a full list of the recommendations on the Steering Committee's website. The last day to submit preferences is Sunday.

This rezoning process is unique in that the community engagement happened before any paperwork has been filed to the city, the speaker said.

“We are kind of doing it upside down,” she said. “Usually an application is presented and we respond to it. We have a plan, we are giving it to the city, and we are forcing the city to consider and to take into account those needs and incorporated into the application process.”

While many praised the effort, some critics said there was too much focus on the delivery and not enough on the substance. 

“I think it’s a step in the right direction, something we can build on,” Kelmy Rodriquez said.