Gowanus News: Appeal To City Agencies, Comments To DCP, IBZ Roundtables

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GOWANUS – Carroll Gardens Coalition For Respectful Development (CG CORD) has requested that Brooklyn Community Board 6 (CB6) coordinate at least two town hall meetings with NYC agencies about the Gowanus rezoning. The group has also started an online petition.

A view of the Gowanus Canal from the Union Street Bridge (Photo: Nathan Haselby)

The meetings would allow community members to ask questions of specific agency officials so they can determine whether “the City has the means, the resources and the will to TRULY plan for the impact of about 8,200 new housing units and an estimated 19,000 new residents,” the petition reads. The meetings must take place in advance of the ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure) to give the community and CB6 members the chance to fully understand and “assess all of the potential consequences of this rezoning.”

The list of NYC and NYS agencies CG CORD has requested includes:

Bklyner reporting is supported by our subscribers and:

Department of City Planning (DCP)
Department of Education (DOE)
Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)
Department of Parks & Recreation (NYC Parks)
Department of Sanitation (DSNY)
Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Traffic Department
Emergency Medical Services
EPA (Region 2, Gowanus Canal Superfund team)
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
Fire Department of New York (FDNY)
Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA)
New York Police Department (NYPD)
NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)
Office of Emergency Management (OEM)

CB6 delivered a letter to NYC Department of City Planning Chair, Marisa Lago, on Tuesday, June 11, requesting that—as the lead agency in the rezoning—DCP support convening these meetings. The board also requested a timeline for when the Draft Environmental Impact Study will be completed and when the ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure) process will begin.

“We understand that the prospect of major changes within our community are a source of serious concern and we should be looking at this from every angle in the EIS and throughout the process,” CB6 District Manager Michael Racioppo told Bklyner.

In related news, the deadline to submit comments to DCP about the Draft Scope of Work was May 27. See below for feedback from some local groups and elected officials who represent the neighborhood.

In its letter to DCP, Community Board 6 notes that the Gowanus Mix “is vague in the proposed plan,” adding that the “proposal looks like it could collapse into a fairly standard Residential with Commercial overlay zoning district.” DCP’s Framework states it would promote a mix of uses—light industrial, arts and commercial uses—on ground and second floors to create “an active and diverse waterfront.”

CB6’s letter adds concerns about the possible displacement of low-income families and small businesses and insists on investments in affordable retail, services, job training and placement to maintain affordability for all in the community. See the community board’s full letter and list of questions/comments here.

Council Members Brad Lander and Stephen Levin posted their joint comments online on May 30. The elected officials note that there are numerous parts of the Draft Scope of Work that do not “fulfill our shared vision” and need improvement including investing in NYCHA’s Gowanus Houses, Wyckoff Gardens, and Warren Street Houses; preventing additional sewer overflows (CSOs) from entering the Gowanus Canal; promoting light manufacturing, arts, and artisan uses inside as well as outside the Industrial Business Zone (IBZ); and preserving historic sites in the neighborhood.

The Council Members add that DCP’s plan “must do far more to include investments to meet the needs of a growing community for schools, transit, open space, flooding and resiliency, energy, and other infrastructure.” Council Member Lander posted their comments on his NYC Council page.

Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon‘s letter to DCP bluntly states, “this proposal bears all the hallmarks of a rezoning that will not deliver what is needed by the people who live and work here or their progeny.” Simon requests a “revised Draft Scope of Work that adequately and realistically incorporates the conditions on the ground and in the water of Gowanus,” before listing her concerns: disregard for the environmental impacts of construction and added population on the vulnerable neighborhood; lack of attention to traffic and transportation—including the area’s overwhelmed subway lines; inadequate outdoor space; and “lack of real affordability” as well as “lack of investment provided for affordable housing including investment in NYCHA.”

Senator Velmanette Montgomery‘s comments were brief and to the point, stating “This proposed rezoning is putting the cart before the horse,” in reference to developing the area—and adding 18,000+ residents—before completing the Gowanus Canal Superfund remediation. Montgomery insists that the “rezoning must be put on hold until a genuine environmental cleanup can take place.”

The Gowanus Canal Conservancy, the non-profit environmental steward for the neighborhood, submitted a letter accompanied by 29 pages of written testimony to DCP. Along with the need to designate an Environmental Special District, the Conservancy’s concerns include DCP underestimating the density of the rezoning and the impact it will have on infrastructure.

Among the Conservancy’s recommendations for the Gowanus Environmental Special District: sewage and stormwater management in addition to the EPA’s Superfund plan for CSO retention; new flood-resilience measures along the waterfront to prevent increased flooding on low-lying streets; pedestrian-friendly streetscapes; and improvements to indoor living conditions, particularly for public housing residents. Go to gowanuscanalconservancy.org to see the organziation’s full response.

And lastly, tomorrow, June 12 (2pm to 5pm) will be the first of two Roundtable Public Meetings to discuss the Gowanus Industrial Business Zone (IBZ). The second meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, June 18 (9am to 12pm).

“Come learn how the Gowanus IBZ Vision Study will affect your business, meet other businesses and community stakeholders, and share your top priorities and future vision for the area,” DCP’s announcement reads.

The agency is requesting that Gowanus business or property owners complete an online survey to share their thoughts on the challenges and benefits of doing business in the area as well as any improvements they’d like to see implemented.

Read more about the Gowanus IBZ Vision Study meetings here.

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