SUNSET PARK – The room reserved for the Community Board 7 (CB7) January Board meeting started filling around 6pm, almost every board member in attendance to cast their vote on the recommendations the community would send to its elected officials about the proposed Industry City rezoning.
The air was somber – the vote marks the end of CB7’s input into the ULURP process. The 50 members of the all-volunteer board had spent countless hours over two contentious years discussing the impact proposed rezoning of the working waterfront would have on the surrounding community. Just last Thursday, some twenty members of the Land Use committee of CB7 worked for seven hours – till 1am – to finalize their recommendation: approve the rezoning, if the stipulated conditions, of which there were many, are met, which was presented for a vote to the full board.
Of the four items CB7 had to vote on, in the end, recommendations and stipulations were sent along on only two, disappointing many of those present. “It’s as if there was no work done!” one exhausted board member said, frustrated, that the two main issues -to approve with conditions the zoning map amendment and special zoning text – split the vote (23 Yes: 22 No and 23-21 respectively) and thus resulted in the board taking no position. The other two resulted in votes to “disapprove unless the conditions listed in special issues section are met” the de-mapping of a private street within the complex and the special zoning permit.
The community board had been tasked with a gargantuan task – providing feedback on the largest private rezoning in the city – a complex and technical matter. Last night’s meeting was another long night – it took almost 5 hours. And it was confusing. ‘Yes’ means ‘no’, ‘no’ means ‘yes’, approve to disapprove … everything with conditions … room was hot and crowded as the hours ticked away.
In the end, it seems the community had reached a consensus on the conditions under which the rezoning could proceed. “Approve, if conditions are met” or “Disapprove, unless conditions are met” – the statements essentially mean the same thing, while they do express different sentiments towards the project, and will no doubt be used in the upcoming local elections.
Once the reality of ‘no position’ sunk in, there was a last-minute push to do over the vote – but it failed to get the requisite two-thirds majority.
Councilmember Carlos Menchaca who represents the district issued the following statement following the meeting:
“Last night we saw democracy in action. We saw our Community Board debate with extreme commitment an application of massive proportions, one they have been diligently discussing the last two years. Industry City’s application is the largest change to an industrial waterfront ever proposed in New York City’s history. We must continue to discuss its complexity openly and I’m ready to continue having that conversation anytime, anywhere, and with anyone.”
Industry City did not issue a statement.
Next, the results of the CB7 vote get sent to the Brooklyn Borough President, who then makes a recommendation on the rezoning which then goes to the City Council.