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Groups Voice Opposition to Zoning Changes at City Hall

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Earlier this week, the Department of City Planning held an open meeting to begin the process of review of Mayor Bill de Blasio's far-reaching rezoning proposal, "Housing New York: Zoning for Quality and Affordability." More specifically, the meeting was held to begin putting together an Environmental Impact Statement, which is scheduled to be completed in the spring, The Villager reports.

Essentially, the rezoning proposal would "modernize" local regulations in contextually-zoned districts, such as height and size restrictions in areas like Chelsea and Greenwich Village which are intended to preserve historical character and ambience. Of course, developers have long argued that such restrictions thwart their ability build affordable units. The proposal would also "encourage variety and better design" neighborhood-by-neighborhood and "allow enough flexibility" for developers to maximize floor space "without sacrificing the quality of units."

At the meeting, critics, preservationists, and members of Community Boards 2 and 4 voiced concerns that the zoning changes would undo strides made by neighborhood activists in contextually-zoned districts. These groups also added that the proposed changes would enforce a "one-size-fits-all" approach over the entire city and would not especially foster affordable housing, instead benefiting market-rate developers.

"Just to be clear, this plan that has been proposed by the city would change rules that communities fought for years and years and years to get to help protect the scale and character of their neighborhoods," said Andrew Berman, of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. "And, in a lot of cases, these proposed changes by the city are really for nothing but market-rate luxury condo development."

Many other community members and city officials agreed, adding that the actual rezoning proposal process is flawed. Elizabeth Mackintosh of the CB 4 Land Use Committee called attention to the lack of communication and the speed of the proposal, while Borough President Gale Brewer and dozens of other elected officials sent a joint letter to Carl Weisbrod, chairman of the Department of City Planning, expressing concerns.

"By increasing height limits across the board, this administration is undermining these agreements made between previous administrations and neighborhood residents," the letter read. "While it may be true that the constraints of the contextual building envelope are stifling the production of housing, we are not convinced that the proposed adjustments are the perfect solution."
· 'Nope!' is the word at scope meeting for proposed zoning changes [Villager]
· Housing New York: Zoning for Quality and Affordability [City Planning]
· All Housing New York coverage [Curbed]