As CB9 mulls yet another attempt to produce a request to City Planning to begin a study of our neighborhood (and Southern Crown Heights above it), I thought it might be helpful to elaborate on a point that I, and many members of the Board, have made on more than one occasion.
There seems to be a misunderstanding about why we would initiate such a study at all, and why the sense of urgency. The idea of a CB9 initiated collaborative process is not the only way to rezone. Developers do it all the time. By filing their own application with the City, and paying for the study and/or environmental review, they can start a "ULURP clock" themselves. They don't need to wait for us to rezone Empire Blvd - they could start the process right now (who knows, maybe that's already someone's plan...it shouldn't surprise us given the location and BP and Mayor's desires. It would seem like a good bet to me if I wanted to build some housing over here that I would sail through the ULURP) One such review is the one that's happening over by the Marcy projects in the old Pfizer plant:
Needless to say, the City with its current focus and mandate will undoubtedly grant the application. The BP, the Mayor and Council will be for it. Even if the community comes out against it, they won't have the power to stop it.
The same can happen on Empire Blvd. I've warned that it probably will. I for one welcome a unifying, attractive and thoughtful use of the ugly strip from the Park to Rogers Avenue. Some, as you might have noticed (!), are dead set against any change of zoning on Empire. What do we get if WE initiate a process that considers a possible residential zoning on Empire? We get to look at the WHOLE neighborhood, and consider contextual zonings that update a 50+ year-old map, protecting much of our neighborhood from unwanted, oversized development. We've basically been promised as much, particularly for current all-residential blocks. Seems like a reasonable deal to me.
So, in my judgment, and I am certainly not alone in this conclusion, we either lead or follow. I don't have any doubt which is the preferable position to influence outcomes.
For those not to annoyed by the back and forth, thanks again for reading.