Monday, February 1, 2010

Rose Plaza Part III

Once again South Williamsburg is split over Rose Plaza, Isack Rosenberg's controversial development project on Kent and Division Avenues, as residents and comunity leaders gave their testimony at a City Planning Commission public hearing on Wednesday, January 27. Check out my article in The Courier for the animated back-and-forth.

Not much has changed with this since the Borough President's partial recommendation and his own public hearing back in December. Rabbi David Niederman and CB1 member Simon Weiser are still against it. UJCare's Gary Schlesinger, Rabbi Leib Glanz, and former Council candidate Isaac Abraham are in support of it.

Speaking publicly on the issue for the first time was Council member Steve Levin, the new Dispositions Subcommittee Chair, who is opposing the project in a nod to the wishes of Community Board 1 and some of his constituents. Two news sites, The Brooklyn Eagle and Vosizneias, led with the Levin testimony, and so far Vosizneias has 41 comments on it. Here's an excerpt of his testimony:

As City Councilmember for the affected area, I must weigh the possible benefits of the proposed action for the community against the possible negative impacts. This application is asking the Commission to approve a rezoning to R7-3 and number of special permits without, I believe, giving nearly enough public benefit. On each issue which matters to the community, and which therefore matters to me, this application comes up far short. I therefore look to the recommendations of Community Board 1 in Brooklyn , which voted overwhelmingly, 31-8, to disapprove this application unless it met an extensive list of 10 recommendations.

Levin's opposition is not surpising, as he noted that he would take the Community Board's advice on zoning projects very seriously. Niederman is also lobbying him strongly to oppose Rose Plaza, and the project is emerging as the Council member's first big test and former foes, including Isaac Abraham are promised "there's a fight coming" if Levin ignores them.

However, there may be modifactions coming in the next month as the applicant's representative Howard Weiss indicated that they may look at adding larger apartments. Howard in the Eagle:

“I am prepared today to state our commitment to add 10 additional three-bedroom units,” Weiss said, adding, “And we are also committed to making sure this site will be remediated to residential standards.” As for the percentage of affordable units (20 percent = 160 units), Weiss reminded the commissioners that 20 percent was the amount acceptable to city planners when the inclusionary bonus was adopted. In addition to Levin and Weiss, commissioners heard from architect Peter Samton of Gruzen Samton and landscape architect Tom Balsley of Balsley Landscape Associates, who described elements of the proposal.

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