Monday, June 18, 2007

Scoping Testimony

The Scoping Meeting on June 25 is the most important opportunity for community input into the impending rezoning of the East Village and Lower East Side. If enough of us testify, we can make a difference.

I will ask that the three following alternatives be included in the scope of the Environmental Impact Statement. This is just a sketch. I'll provide more detail soon for anyone who wants to join me:

1. Inclusion of the Bowery: the impact of this zoning on the Bowery could be devastating. Unable to build their hotels south of Houston, developers will look to the Bowery where hotels can still be built. The EIS must include a study of the Bowery.

2. Keep the current 3.44 FAR for the avenues:
virtually all of 1st Avenue and most of 2nd, A, B and C are lined with buildings 5-stories or less , FAR 3.44 or less. Raising the FAR to 4 will mean rooftop additions all across the avenues. Landlords use the construction of extensions as a means of turning residences into construction sites to harass tenants out of their homes. Four-story buildings will be warehoused in preparation for demolition and redevelopment. The low-rise, broad, open Civil War context of the East Village avenues will be darkened beyond recognition and solely for money, no other reason.

3. No upzoning on Houston, Delancey, Chrystie or D: Inclusionary up-Zoning on Houston has already brought us the Avalon Building and Whole Foods. The character of the neighborhood cannot survive more 80% market-rate glass&steel intrusions. Added development causes secondary displacement of residents and mom-and-pop businesses. Let's keep developers away, let's not invite them in. A reasonable zoning for these streets: R7B (FAR 3, height cap 75 ft) perhaps with an inclusionary housing bonus to 4. That will ensure that no one currently living in affordable housing will be displaced for the sake of promises of affordable housing.

A general alternative proposal for the entire district including the Bowery: maintain the current 3.44 FAR, remove the community facility bonus, cap heights at 70 feet (3.44 FAR = an average 5 story tenement, so the added height won't threaten existing tenements.) The closest existing contextual zonings would be R6A and R7B and for south of Houston, C4-3A. Zoning designations like these but with 3.44 FAR would fit the neighborhood like a glove.

Scoping Meeting for the Environmental Impact Statement on the EV/LES Rezoning:
Department of City Planning,
Spector Hall,
22 Reade Street
June 25, 2-5pm, 6-8:45pm

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