Updated 08/20/2009 09:31 PM
Group Calls For Scale Restrictions In Sunset Park
While the city says it has come up with a rezoning plan to preserve the character of a Brooklyn neighborhood, some residents say the plan actually ruins it and are taking their fight to court. NY1's Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.
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Views of the harbor and Lower Manhattan skyline can be seen from the hills of Sunset Park. But some community groups fear the vistas will be blocked if the city's rezoning plan goes through since developers could create taller buildings along the avenues. And that's just one of many reasons the group is suing to stop the plan.
"We know that this plan is going to destroy or community," said Wendy Cheung of the Chinese Staff and Workers' Association. "This rezoning plan is going to upzone. It's going to encourage luxury developers to come in and push people out."
Similar to other recent neighborhood rezonings, City Planning wants to put height restrictions on the residential blocks to preserve Sunset Park's low-scale character. At the same time, it wants to encourage higher density construction on the avenues, particularly 4th and 7th Avenues.
While the group supports the part of the plan that calls for height limits, it says the plan favors developers more than the mostly Latino and Chinese residents. They say it encourages retail chains over mom and pop stores and provides only limited incentives for affordable housing.
"All of these changes will allow for more luxury development and larger chain stores which in turn will eventually displace the low income tenants and small business owners," said Bethany Li of the Asian American Legal Defense Fund.
"We have to put more rent stabilized buildings so we can save our community," said Johnny Trelles of the Sunset Park Alliance of Neighbors.
The potential displacement and other effects is the basis of the lawsuit, filed last week against the city Planning Department. The suit charges the city didn't study the full impact of the plan, but the city, which declined to go on camera for this story, argues the plan was the result of extensive discussion and fully addresses concerns about maintaining the community's character.
The plan was approved by the community board and the borough president's office with some slight modifications, and will soon go to the City Council for a public hearing and vote.
A court date for the lawsuit is set for October 14th.