Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Community Board One: Part 2 (Breaking: New Domino Rejected)
8:26 PM Public Session is over and Land Use Committee Ward Dennis takes over with a detailed report. I should mention that by about 8 PM, everyone who wanted to come into the board has come in and there is no one waiting outside. Also, it's slim pickins at the NAG girls, as they have scarfed on raspberries, hummus, and assorted sugar cookies. They're mostly gone at this point.
"I think everybody in the committee is in support of most aspects of the project... However, the committee ultimately rendered the project not acceptable in its current form."
Ward goes over shadows created by the towers over Grand Ferry Park, concerns about density, height, scale, and affordable housing components.
"The open space, as the project said, the project has a very beautiful esplanade, but at the end of the day, the project reduces per capita open space for Williamsburg by 6 percent. "The applicant has asked for detailed information about the project but the applicant has not shared this (financial) information, it's not something that other (developers) have never done. Based on these concerns, the Land Use committee voted 5-2 to disapprove with modifications, This is not saying no to this project, it is saying we want to change this project. It is important to note that this recommendation represents a significant commitment on the part of CB1 to height and density, in that it endorses building heights of up to 40 stories and over two million square feet of total development. Except in very specific locations, the Committee's recommendation endorses teh ehight, massing, and design of teh overall project." (correction appended to transcript).
Ward goes through modifications including reducing the density on the waterfront and upland, lowering the height, commit to funding a transportation study, and a series of commitments on permanent affordability and expanding the anti-harassment zone.
8:38 PM: Ward hands it back to Chairman Chris and we move to questions from board members. One Hasidic member launches into a diatribe against the project before Chairman Chris cuts him off because he isn't actually asking a question. CB 1's Mieszko Kalita asks who didn't vote in the committee and Ward said the chairman doesn't vote.
Esteban Duran asks Ward about the design and the preservation of the refinery and the cost of preservation versus knocking a project down and building a new one. Ward says, "We don't know."
Jose Leon asks a question about the applicant's responsiveness.
8:50 PM Steve Levin walks in, and a resident shows him a flyer with his picture next to the Curbed Invaders poster. I didn't catch his reaction, just his backside, before he speaks with Barbara Baer and Leah Krieger.
8:51 PM: Finally, the conflict of interest question! An attorney from the Borough President's office who answers whether board members could face a conflict of interest regarding the vote by explaining that their salary must be in proportion to the amount that they accept from a developer, which doesn't sound exactly correct, and Press Row thinks the gentleman may be a sad Inspector Clouseau-type impostor.
Jeff Mann: Every meeting has the same conversation. Yes means no, and no means yes.
8:59 PM We're into a roll call vote. The members are confused.
"We're voting yes or no, not present!" Well played, Chairman Chris, well played.
Alright, let's vote:
Yes 23 No 12 1 Abstention 1 Recusals
Community Board 1 Rejects New Domino
9:04 PM: Half the room empties as we move onto other committee reports, starting with Parks. I get a statement from Susan Pollock. The parks measures pass and we move onto public safety.
9:11 PM Mieszko reads off the liquor licenses in a short report noting several new restaurants including a new Greek place that could be moving onto Driggs Avenue on the Northside. Mieszko's report is dragging a bit, through no fault of his own. One by one, the motions pass and committee reports are closed. Mieszko also mentions that the mayor's posse that gathers up coyotes should also apply to raccoons.
9:27 PM: Final thoughts. CPCR's Susan Pollock vowed to fight on at the next level. This comes as early as Thursday when the Borough President's office hears the matter in a public hearing. Also, Rich Calder from the New York Post has also written some arguments to the New Domino plan focusing on transportation. And of course, we will all be waiting to see how Council member Steve Levin, aka Mr. Relevant, comes out on this plan. Goodnight everyone!