Bushwick rezoning opponents skeptical of city’s outline

May 16, 2019 Paul Stremple
Bushwick's Irving Avenue. Eagle file photo
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The Department of City Planning presented their outline for Bushwick’s rezoning to a packed Community Board 4 Wednesday night, drawing comments from concerned residents and board members alike who are skeptical of the details.

The outline is an “update” to the Bushwick Neighborhood Plan, which the DCP presented at a contentious April meeting of CB4’s Land Use subcommittee, where it was met with opposition from protestors.

Board members who were involved in the yearslong development of the Bushwick Community Plan, which initiated the city’s proposed rezoning of the neighborhood, remain unsatisfied with the response to their requests.

One of their chief concerns is the potential expansion of zoning on neighborhood side streets of two and three-story housing to accommodate up to five stories. Board members called the increase antithetical to the goal of the plan, which was meant to eliminate out-of-context zoning disrupting the character of Bushwick blocks.

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Though crowded with activists and residents voicing opposition, the meeting remained civil. Last summer, protestors shut down a meeting discussing the community plan.

While the final plan is still in development, local activists have opposed the use of Mandatory Inclusionary Housing to create affordable housing in potential high-density residential developments. These are “affordable units” that make up a small percentage of otherwise market-rate buildings. Opponents are critical of their rents — which are determined by a formula — as still too expensive for many long-time Bushwick residents.

Martha Brown, a community board member and Bushwick resident since 1955, questioned the complete lack of “deeply affordable housing,” pointing to recent developments in Spring Creek and East New York as examples of Brooklyn development aimed at true affordability for local residents.

One member of the Bushwick Community Plan Steering Committee stood up to refute the idea that DCP’s draft plan looked anything like the recommendations finalized by the committee in 2018, after nearly five years of community input and planning.

DCP representatives attempted to address concerns from audience members and said that public input sessions are forthcoming, encouraging those with concerns to attend a June scoping hearing where the full proposal will be discussed.

The DCP hopes to finalize the plan and begin public review by winter 2020.

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