Sunset Park board calls emergency meeting over Industry City expansion plan

October 30, 2019 Scott Enman
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SUNSET PARK — Sunset Park’s Community Board 7 called an emergency meeting on Monday, just hours after Industry City’s rezoning application was approved, to discuss the certification and the next steps now that the city’s land use process has officially begun.

Under that process — Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, or ULURP — CB7 has 60 days to review the application and provide an advisory recommendation.

Chairperson Caesar Zuniga called Industry City’s unexpected actions “unfair” and expressed concern over whether the community board could effectively do its job in just two months.

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“This takes time, and I just don’t know if the next 60 days is enough time to do what we need to do,” Zuniga said. “I’m very concerned about this.”

Although the community board has until around Dec. 27 to review the application, CB7 land use chairperson John Fontillas said the group actually has less time and that they would need to make a decision by the board’s Dec. 18 meeting.

“This is the worst possible timeline,” Fontillas said. “By charter we should be getting 60 days to review it. We actually only have six weeks if you take out the holidays. Not only have they handcuffed us with a 500-page document for a rezoning, but they’ve also forced us to try and come up with a response in effectively two, three weeks time, which is not realistic.”

Fontillas said the community board, rather than “taking the bait” of getting mired in the legalistic jargon of the application, needed to focus on the “higher and broader” needs of the community, including affordable housing, education and jobs.

To better understand the application’s technical details, CB7 will hire urban planner and zoning lawyer George Janes, who presented before the community board earlier this year.

The certified application will be available online on Tuesday, and the board hopes to have a print copy by Monday.

CB7 will have the application translated into Spanish and Chinese, and the board will continue to provide simultaneous translations at all of its meetings. Zuniga also said they hoped to be able to provide child care so that families could attend each event, but he noted that they have “very limited resources.”

Residents expressed concern throughout the meeting about Industry City’s decision to move ahead with the rezoning so hastily, describing the unexpected certification as an “abuse of the process” and a deliberate attempt to give the community board as little time as possible.

Zuniga and Fontillas, however, urged residents to put their anger aside and instead work to plan ahead. They added that it was now the responsibility of Industry City to convince the board as to why the rezoning application should be approved.

“Industry City originally indicated that it would request adjustments to current zoning regulations nearly five years ago, and since that time it has had hundreds of meeting about its plan with area residents, businesses and key decision makers,” said Industry City CEO Andrew Kimball. “In fact, Industry City also accepted the opportunity to be part of the most extensive community-driven process ever undertaken for a proposal of this type, which included at least 10 town hall meetings sponsored by the Community Board as well as several other community-sponsored public sessions.

“Industry City is willing to get done all that needs to get done in the next seven months, and hopes our neighbors concur that we should work toward an agreement to ensure the benefits of this development stay close to home. In fact, Industry City has already demonstrated a willingness to move quickly when it agreed to adjust its plan within 48 hours of the request being made by Councilmember Menchaca.”

CB7 will host its second Public Speak Out on Wednesday, Nov. 6.

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