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Nabe strikes back at developers - CGNA steps up campaign to rezone community

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The next step in Carroll Gardens’ fight against over development has been taken. That’s the pronouncement members of the Carroll Gardens Neigh-borhood Associa-tion’s Land Use Committee declared this week at the group’s January meeting held at Scotto’s Funeral Home at 106 First Place. The group has identified and catalogued a series of sites located throughout the neighborhood which they maintain are examples of places where overdevelopment has either already occurred or are in danger of being overdeveloped soon. Residents likened some of the new buildings going up on Bond Street, for example, to “fortresses” or “jails” which cleverly camouflage the true number of floors inside through the clever use of mezzanine construction. A number of the most vulnerable sites the committee has identified are also located on 1st through 4th Places – blocks which boast the many of the neighborhood’s signature front courtyards. “The photographs de-monstrate our concerns,” Land Use Committee Chair Glenn Kelly said. “There are a lot more sites that I was even aware of.” Architect John Hatheway – who also helped document the sites – said that under current zoning regulations, almost every property in Carroll Gardens could be considered “in danger of being overdeveloped.” “But there are some more economically viable than others,” he warned. The CGNA reached this stage in its overdevelopment battle after compiling the results of a neighborhood-wide survey done over the summer which indicated residents’ overwhelming concerns that ongoing development is, indeed, threatening the unique character of the community. Some are still undecided about how best way to combat that trend, however. Many favor following other Brooklyn neighborhoods and push for contextual rezoning or “down-zoning” of the community as the quickest route of getting some form of protection on the books. Others back the formation of a new Historic District through the Landmarks Preservation Commission – a process perceived by many as long and arduous. Still others, meanwhile, maintain that the CGNA should devote much of its energies to advocating for tougher standards and closer inspection of building plans submitted by architects. “There are laws on the books that can be en-forced,” said CGNA member Celia Cacace. “It’s only getting worse,” said Hatheway. Residents like Jim Devor want to make sure that some sort of traffic calming along 4th Avenue where a number of schools are located becomes part of any plan to rezone the community. “Too often, traffic is moving over the bodies of our children,” he said. Councilmember Bill de Blasio agreed that efforts to enhance pedestrian safety needed to be taken, but ruled out such things as speed bumps. “Speed bumps would not work on 4th Avenue,” he said. With time running out in the Bloomberg administration, de Blasio said that he feels a “tremendous sense of urgency” to get some form of new zoning in place before a different mayor occupies City Hall. “Let’s put all of these methodologies in place because they all lead to fighting overdevelopment,” he said. Kelly urged the CGNA to bring its photo documentation to Community Board 6 and then to elected officials in an effort to find the “best bet” and “correct zoning vehicle.” “Our limited time might provide the impetus to push this through,” Kelly said.

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