The city backed neighborhood preservationists in Carroll Gardens and dodged a showdown with the local councilman by announcing on Monday night a fast-track plan to limit new building heights in the residential community.
Department of City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden made the unexpected announcement in PS 32 on Hoyt Street at a public briefing on a rezoning that would transform parts of the nearby industrial Gowanus area into a new bustling residential neighborhood.
Burden said her agency would shuffle its priorities to downzone Carroll Gardens in response to repeated calls from Councilman Bill DeBlasio (D–Park Slope), who was spurred by neighborhood activists to force the city to restrict new construction on the historic brownstone blocks as it deals with a rezoning of the Canal area.
“Due to the persistent and persuasive lobbying of Councilmember DeBlasio … we will have a downzoning proposal of Carroll Gardens by June,” Burden said. The crowd of 150 people in the auditorium erupted with applause.
“It’s so important to you,” she added.
The decision to curb building heights in Carroll Gardens, known for its Italianate architecture and distinctive front yards, relieved friction between DeBlasio and the Bloomberg Administration, more recently exascerbated by the mayor’s ultimately successful quest to extend term limits.
But DeBlasio, who bucked the mayor on his bid for a third term, was pleased with Bloomberg this time, calling the fast-track downzoning process a “profound moment of progress” for Carroll Gardens.
Neighbors have charged in recent years that new buildings, such as a planned seven-story building at the corner of Smith Street and Second Place, and another at Court and Union streets, threaten the local character.
The first measure of relief from so-called overdevelopment in Carroll Gardens came when City Planning changed a loophole that allowed taller buildings because on blocks that were registered as “wide” rather than “narrow” streets.
Residents thanked Burden for finally heeding their call for a comprehensive rezoning.
“We welcome your surprise announcement,” said Rita Miller, a member of the Carroll Gardens Coalition to Respectfully Develop.
The boundaries of the proposed downzoning were not immediately available.
©2008 Community News Group
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