Some people may be wondering what reasoning went into the Council Land Use Committee's Broadway Triangle decision on Monday, and Council member Dan Garodnick really had the most comprehensive explanation for the "yes" votes. Here is his statement read at the Subcommittee hearing:
Good morning. My name is Dan Garodnick and I am Chair of the Council’s subcommittee on Planning, Dispositions, and Concessions.
Today we are voting on Land Use items 1227, 1228, 1229, and 1230, all related to the Broadway Triangle area in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
At this point, these land use items have now gone through the various reviews required of such applications.
They were proposed by HPD, then approved by Community Board 1, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, and the City Planning Commission.
On November 19 we held a 5 hour hearing on this subject here in the City Council, at which time all members of the public wishing to be heard were heard.
The ultimate goal of this application is to revive an area that has been underutilized and to create more affordable housing for a community that everyone agrees is in great need of it.
I share some of the concerns that have been raised about the use of eminent domain and site authorization in this context.
On the eminent domain issue: I do not believe that small businesses here should be subject to eminent domain because of residential development next door. Their presence does not stop or even significantly inhibit the redevelopment of the area. However, if we approve or disapprove this application, we would not be impacting that question. The Urban Renewal Plan already authorizes the use of eminent domain to acquire private properties for public uses. Our actions today do not change HPD’s ability to use eminent domain as it is authorized by the Urban Renewal Plan.
As for site authorization: this committee has recently worked with HPD to create more transparency in the process for using site authorization letters. In response, HPD agreed to post on its website the Agency’s policy regarding site authorizations, a telephone number that groups can call if they are interested in a specific site, a list of addresses of each property for which HPD provided authorization letters, and a list of federal and state awards for city owned sites once such decisions are made. I am pleased that HPD has now taken these steps to ensure that there is greater transparency in this process going forward.
Right now, the Broadway Triangle is zoned for manufacturing uses, and much of the land has been vacant and unused for the last 30 years. By rezoning the area to the residential R6A and R7A, additional residential housing that is consistent with the scale of the surrounding area will be developed.
The community has consistently stated that it needs more affordable housing. This proposal will allow for 1,851 units, of which 844 will be affordable. The units built on the city-owned land will be 100% affordable.
HPD’s proposal also contains an Inclusionary Housing Program. Of course, this promotes affordable housing on privately-owned land by giving developers additional residential space in return for affordable units.
I should note that there are $400,000 of State funds that have been allocated to this proposal through a Brownfield Opportunity Area grant, which will facilitate the creation of more affordable housing.
I believe that substantively this proposal provides for rezoning and development that is in context with the neighborhood and will benefit the community as a whole. Significantly, both the current Council Member David Yassky, who represents the district in which these changes would take place, and the incoming Council Member Steve Levin, have weighed in in support of these items.
I recognize that that there is a great deal at stake and I appreciate the passion of everyone involved in this complex issue, however, for the foregoing reasons I am voting “yes” today.