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East Harlem rezoning proposal loses another key backer

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer is opposed to it in its current form

The East Harlem rezoning plan has lost another key ally in the form of Manhattan Borough President, Gale Brewer. On Thursday morning Brewer announced that she could not support the de Blasio administration’s rezoning proposal in its current form as it did not clarify how affordable the affordable apartments would be.

Brewer’s rejection followed the disapproval by Community Board 11 at the end of June. An initial meeting scheduled on June 20 saw local residents storm the stage in protest of the rezoning proposal when the board first decided not to reject the proposal completely.

A week later the board had come back with a final decision: they could not support the plan unless the city agreed to build 100 percent affordable housing on city-owned properties as part of the rezoning, among other suggestions.

Part of Brewer’s rejection of the rezoning proposal had to do with the fact the city hadn’t incorporated Community Board 11’s suggestions before sending the proposal to her office, she said in a statement on Thursday.

Brewer does support a rezoning of the neighborhood, just not the one currently proposed by the administration.

“East Harlem needs a plan that better preserves neighborhood context, makes real up-front commitments to affordable housing preservation, spreads new development across a wider area, and addresses the many other needs that were identified by this community in the process that produced the East Harlem Neighborhood Plan,” Brewer said in a statement.

That neighborhood plan was an 18-month long effort involving local residents and community stakeholders, and was championed by City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. It’s not yet clear if she still supports the plan in its current form.

As for the Borough President, she issued a list of recommendations, including broadening the rezoning area, and to ensure that no less than 20 percent of new affordable housing stock be set aside for residents making 30 percent (or less) of the Area Median Income (AMI).

The City Planning Commission and City Council still have to vote on the proposal, so there’s still time for the city to tweak it, but it’s not yet clear if the community’s input will be taken into consideration as this plan moves forward.