Now it's Brighton Beach's turn to wait for a rezoning

From Courier-Life
Brighton Beach sweats rezoning – Many fear safeguards won’t come in time to save neighborhood
By Michèle De Meglio 07/12/2007

Brighton Beach residents are getting antsy while waiting to see if their neighborhood will be downzoned.

Residents are pushing for a zoning change to prevent developers from demolishing cozy bungalows and erecting multistory condominiums in their place but they say the city isn’t moving fast enough to meet their needs.

“When are you going to downzone Brighton Beach?” Ida Sanoff asked City Councilmember Mike Nelson at a Community Board 13 meeting. “There’s going to be nothing left.”

Nelson said he hopes to eventually see downzoning in Brighton Beach.

“I’ve done it in [Community Boards] 14 and 15. I’d like to start it in 13,” which includes Brighton Beach, he said.

Councilmember Domenic Recchia said it’s a waiting game.

The Department of City Planning is currently conducting studies to see if downzoning is necessary and if so, in what areas.

“You can’t just downzone one block,” Recchia said.

Currently, Brighton Beach maintains R6 and R7-1 zoning districts, which allow six- and seven-story buildings to be constructed in residential areas.

Brighton Beach residents say developers are taking advantage of the existing zoning lines and changing the character of the neighborhood.

That’s why they’re hoping the city will downzone sooner rather than later.

“There have been more studies and more studies,” said Community Board 13 member Jeannette LoScuito. “They’re changing the face of southern Brooklyn.”

Recchia said it’s out of his hands.

“City Planning has come down here. I cannot force them to downzone,” he said. “They examined [Brighton Beach] and I’m waiting for their decision.”

City Planning Spokesperson Rachaele Raynoff explained that a study of Brighton Beach is now underway.

“We are engaged in a balanced rezoning study for the Brighton Beach area,” she said. “We are looking at a combination of preservation as well as housing opportunities and we’re also studying the commercial corridors to ensure that there’s an appropriate range of commercial uses to service this neighborhood.”

“Preliminary zoning recommendations” are expected to be presented to Brighton Beach residents and Community Board 13 by the end of the summer, she said.

Residents will review the recommendations and make their own suggestions, and then another study could be conducted before an official Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) application is created.

Although the timeline for when Brighton Beach could be rezoned is uncertain, Raynoff said, “We anticipate that this will go forward.”

©Courier-Life Publications 2007

Posted Under: Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, Downzoning

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