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Call-in Meeting on Inwood Rezoning Draws Protests from Community

 Dozens of locals gathered at the site of the former rezoning battle to demand a face-to-face meeting about the plans.
Dozens of locals gathered at the site of the former rezoning battle to demand a face-to-face meeting about the plans.
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DNAinfo/Carolina Pichardo

INWOOD — A city plan to discuss its rezoning bid for parts of Inwood as part of a live "telephone town hall" Monday evening drew more than 1,000 listeners, and sparked dozens of locals to gather at the site of a former rezoning battle to demand a face-to-face meeting about the plans.

The dial-in town hall was scheduled to discuss the Inwood NYC Planning Initiative, a study designed “to ensure that the area remains an affordable and attractive neighborhood for working families through efforts that include building affordable housing, preserving the neighborhood's character, connecting residents to their waterfront, supporting small businesses, and improving infrastructure," according to the EDC.

NYCEDC President James Patchett emphasized that the Inwood NYC plan was in "evolution" and not a finalized plan.

“We own a series of public sites in the Inwood area, which will all be dedicated to 100 percent affordable housing, and on top of that we need to — and we will be having — conversations with private developers to ensure that they’re going above and beyond the 25 percent that’s required,” Patchett said, referring to the mandatory inclusionary housing plan, which the city put into place last year, which requires developers to commit to increased affordable housing in exchange for the right to build larger buildings.

Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez hailed the Inwood Library redevelopment project as the first phase of the rezoning plan, adding that the city was working with the Northern Manhattan Agenda, a newly-formed coalition, to collect community feedback.

Callers asked a host of questions including how the rezoning would affect rents and small businesses. Many were concerned about the city's footprint and expressed fears that they would be pushed out by the changes.

Some local residents decided to boycott the call, calling it a ploy to avoid meeting with the community directly. Approximately 60 protesters gathered outside the Packard Building on 4650 Broadway, known as the Sherman Plaza site, carrying signs and chanting.

"They're not kicking us out, they're not taking us out of here," one protester chanted in Spanish.

The coalition Northern Manhattan Is Not 4 Sale — which was part of Monday night's rally and which has led rallies against the Sherman Plaza project last year and recently organized a forum in response to the Inwood Library redevelopment — said the city agencies and Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez need to meet with the community “face to face.”

Stephanie Baez, spokeswoman for EDC, said residents were welcome to "call in at any time during the event and ask questions."

The EDC appeared before the Community Board 12's Land Use Committee last month to introduce the new parameters of the project and said then they will be appearing before the community again in June.

RELATED: Inwood Rezoning Plan Has No Place in Community, Critics Say