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Councilman Compares Rezoning Foes to Trump, Sparking Twitter War

 Marchers briefly stopped traffic along Dyckman St., between Sherman and Post avenues, during a rally on Saturday afternoon against a series of rezonings.
Marchers briefly stopped traffic along Dyckman St., between Sherman and Post avenues, during a rally on Saturday afternoon against a series of rezonings.
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DNAinfo/Carolina Pichardo

INWOOD — City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez sparked a Twitter war over the weekend after he compared organizers of a rally against rezoning in Upper Manhattan to controversial GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Rodriguez's war of words began Saturday, when he joined hundreds of locals at a noon march and rally against a series of controversial rezoning plans in the neighborhood.

The rally was organized by groups including Uptown for Bernie, Met Council, Centro de Altagracia, Northern Manhattan Is Not 4 Sale and St. Jude Church to oppose the "17-story maximum" Sherman Plaza project as well as the Inwood Planning Initiative.

Rodriguez, who organizers said they did not invite to speak at the event, attempted to join the lineup of pre-approved speakers as the march kicked off at the Sherman Plaza site on Sherman Avenue and Broadway.

But Rodriguez and his supporters were shouted down by critics — who say Rodriguez hasn't clearly come out against the rezoning plans.

“Councilman, we asked you not to rouse these people up. We’re here peacefully. We asked you to leave,” said Joe Vasquez, who was emceeing the event. 

Rodriguez remained with the marchers until the group reached St. Jude’s Church, where another argument flared up between his supporters and Father Felix Reyes, who agreed to allow Rodriguez to use the church for a formal discussion on the proposals later this week.

“Right now, [Ydanis] is hot, as is everyone else here and this isn’t the best time to have a discussion,” Reyes said in Spanish to Rodriguez's supporters.

“There are people that are nervous. We will call him and give him an opportunity to speak to the community. If he wants to come to church, he can speak to everyone there.”

After the rally, Rodriguez further inflamed tensions by tweeting out a note comparing his opponents to Trump.

Critics hit back on Twitter, excoriating Rodriguez for “insulting your constituents” and demanding he explain his tweet.

Organizers said that, if approved, the projects will set a bad precedent and allow other developers to build large projects in the area.

Rodriguez hasn't announced if he would vote for or against the zoning change for the Sherman Plaza project. He took to Twitter again on Monday and wrote that if he votes against the plan, its developers would have the right to build a fully-market-rate housing building without any affordable units.

A "no vote on the Sherman Plaza project" will open the way for "market-rate building, 200 units, 0 affordability at any income level," he wrote.

The Sherman Plaza project, developed by Washington Square Partners and Acadia, is slated to come up for a vote Tuesday at the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises, which held a hearing for the project last month

Rodriguez said during The Brian Lehrer Show Monday morning that he expects the final vote on the plan to come before the council on Aug. 18.