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City Completes Downzone Study of 170 Blocks in Heights

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After months of anticipation, the down-zoning of Dyker Heights is moving forward. At a town hall hosted by the Dyker Heights Civic Association (DHCA), and held at St. Philip’s Parish Hall, 1072 80th Street, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that the Department of City Planning (DCP), “Has finished recommendations to down-zone 170 blocks” in the community. “We will now get that done.” Amanda Burden, the commissioner of city planning, said she was “thrilled” to bring residents the news they have been waiting to hear. “At your request,” she told the crowd, “we have indeed conducted a study of over 170 blocks of Dyker Heights. Our goal is to enact zoning districts that will protect the existing character and encourage new development that is compatible with the built context.” Burden said that DCP is, “Proposing to map approximately 150 of 170 blocks with either lower density or contextual zoning districts. That means there will be a height limit consistent with the built fabric of this neighborhood.” In particular, Burden said that the department had, “Carefully looked at the number of blocks dominated by one and two-family homes and have concluded that the number of blocks zoned for one and two-family homes could increase from the current 12 to approximately 75 blocks. I hope that will be really good news to all of you.” To arrive at their recommendation, said Burden, city planners had examined the neighborhood, “Block by block, street by street, house by house.” The boundaries of the rezoning are roughly 61st Street, 14th Avenue, 86th Street and Seventh and Eighth Avenues. With a preliminary plan now ready, time is of the essence, stressed. Victoria Hofmo, the chairperson of the preservation committee formed by City Councilmember Vincent Gentile. “We would like to get the zoning passed as soon as possible,” she told the mayor. Gentile, for his part, said, “I anticipate having my preservation committee sit down wit the Brooklyn office of City Planning to tweak aspects of the plan. I want to get this moving along so we can get approvals within the next couple of months. Then, it’s on to Bensonhurst and Bath Beach.” The first step is community review, said Regina Myer, the director of the Brooklyn office of DCP in a subsequent interview. “We’ve done a draft,” she said. “Now we want to get feedback from the community. We’ll be going out to the community as soon as we can. We are definitely committed to moving this as expeditiously as possible. But, we want to make sure we get the community’s feedback. It’s crucial to us.” The announcement of DCP’s preliminary recommendations for Dyker Heights came several months after it was initially expected. At a meeting hosted by DHCA last June, representatives of the Brooklyn office of DCP had said that they had expected their preliminary recommendations for the rezoning of the neighborhood to be ready possibly as early as September, with a certified proposal ready to go by some time in the autumn. That timetable, however, did not occur, for reasons that DCP has not specified. The rezoning of Dyker Heights was taken up by DCP after the completion of the Bay Ridge rezoning, which became law last March.

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