City Planning Commissioner Amanda M. Burden recently announced the beginning of public review for an 86-block rezoning of the Carroll Gardens and Columbia Street neighborhoods in Brooklyn in response to community and elected official concerns.
Part of Brooklyn Community Board 6, Carroll Gardens and the Columbia Street area are predominantly residential characterized by mainly 3 and 4-story row houses and some mixed-use buildings. The two neighborhoods are currently under the R6 zoning which has been in place for 45 years and sets no height limits. Tower construction on large lots is also permitted. The R6 zoning has resulted in buildings that can reach upwards of 12 stories, a contrast to the area’s historic brownstones creating concern that neighborhood character has been threatened.
“Preserving our neighborhoods means preventing development that is out of scale and out of touch,” said Council Member Bill de Blasio. “Thanks to the hard work of neighborhood activists and Community Board 6, we have begun the process that will ensure that the unique character of Carroll Gardens and Columbia Street will be maintained.”
The proposed rezoning exemplifies the Bloomberg Administration’s planning policies to protect the city’s lower-density neighborhoods and was developed in close consultation with Community Board 6, local community groups and Council Member de Blasio. It has been crafted to preserve the low house character of over 80% of the study area by introducing a contextual zoning district called R6B with height limits of 50 ft and would be mapped on predominately residential east-west side streets as well as the north-south streets of Smith, Hoyt, Bond and Hicks Streets and portions of Henry, Clinton and Columbia Streets.
The proposed rezoning also builds upon City Planning’s Carroll Gardens Narrow Streets Text Amendment which was approved in 2008 and has been designed to match new zoning to preserve established built character by mapping contextual zoning designations called R6A and R7A with height limits of 70 ft and 80 ft respectively along the mixed-use corridors of Court and Columbia Streets and other densely built blocks as well as to promote vibrant, mixed-use corridors on certain local commercial thoroughfares such as Smith, Henry and Hicks Street where commercial uses already exist, but where no commercial zoning is present to permit new or expanding businesses. And, in certain locations where no commercial uses currently exist and where they would be considered inappropriate with existing land use patterns, commercial overlays would be removed.
The community board must now review the proposal, after which it will go to the Borough President, the City Planning Commission and the City Council as part of the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure.