Mayor’s Controversial Rezoning Plan Moves To City Council For Approval

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Photo by Bensonhurst Bean

Photo by Bensonhurst Bean

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s controversial rezoning plan — meant to address the city’s affordable housing crisis — will now move to the City Council for a final review after it was approved Wednesday by the City Planning Commission.

The proposal has rankled communities throughout the city. Residents fear the changes will cause a construction boom that could rub out the character of their neighborhoods. In Bensonhurst and Dyker Heights, community boards voted unanimously to reject both of the mayor’s zoning plans.

We reached out to Councilman Vincent Gentile — who represents both District 10 and District 11 — to find out how he expected to vote on the plan, but a spokesperson told us that the councilman is still undecided.

“We are still meeting about it. We don’t have enough information to take a strong stance. But from our initial discussions, it seems that there’s a lot that’s going to be changed around,” said Gentile’s legislative director Michael Bistreich.

The City Council is expected to vote on the proposals in March, according to DNAinfo.

The plan involved two parts, Zoning for Quality and Affordability (ZQA) and Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH), and are part of de Blasio’s mayor’s 10-year plan to create and preserve 200,000 affordable housing units.

The ZQA would allow developers in some medium to high density areas to build one or two stories higher than current zoning laws allow. It would also eliminate parking requirements for new buildings for low-income residents and seniors — an issue that some worry will cause even greater congestion on the streets.

There are currently no plans to introduce MIH in Bensonhurst or surrounding neighborhoods but the plan provides opportunities for that to occur in the future.

The City Planning Commission was supposed to consider the votes of community boards — many of whom rejected the proposals — as well as public testimony to make changes to both plans. However, the commission only offered minor tweaks.

The amended ZQA now requires nursing homes to have a special permit in areas with single family homes. It also lowers the height increases in certain Manhattan neighborhoods with narrow streets. The only change to the MIH is that developers are excused from affordable housing requirements if they can prove it creates a hardship,” DNAinfo reports.

The commission is composed of six mayoral appointees, one from the public advocate, and five appointed by each of the borough presidents. The appointees from Queens, Staten Island and the Bronx voted no, according to DNAinfo.

Brooklyn’s delegate Joseph Douek voted yes but was reportedly disappointed the board did not include changes from the borough board and hoped those recommendations will be added by the City Council.

A spokesman for City Councilman Donovan Richards, who chairs the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises, told City & State that the council will only hold two meeting, next Tuesday and Wednesday, on the zoning proposals. Richards’ spokesperson assured the news site that the committee will go on long enough for everyone to testify.

Additional reporting by Rachel Silberstein.