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City gets serious about Gardens rezone

The Department of City Planning this week announced the beginning of the formal review for an 86−block contextual rezoning of the Carroll Gardens and Columbia Street district, an effort to preserve some of the most unique, verdant, low−scale and beautiful blocks in the city, the agency said.

“I promised the community last November that we would begin public review in June on a rezoning proposal to protect the neighborhood’s low−scale character,” said City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden. “Today we are fulfilling that promise,” she said, crediting a collaborative effort involving the community board, City Councilmember Bill de Blasio and the mayor.

The agency said it undertook the rezoning in response to community and elected official concerns that neighborhood character has been threatened by new buildings and enlargements that are out−of−scale with the surrounding low−rise context.

The rezoning, if enacted, will update over 45−year−old zoning with contextual zoning designations that would establish height limits for the first time, and curb out−of−scale development, the agency stated.

The Carroll Gardens portion of the rezoning area is generally bounded by Degraw Street, Warren Street and Douglass Street to the north; Hoyt Street, Bond Street and Smith Street to the east; 3rd Street, 4th Street, 5th Street, Centre Street and Hamilton Avenue to the south; and Hicks Street to the west. The Columbia Street portion of the rezoning area consists of approximately 14 blocks bounded by Warren Street to the north, a line between Columbia Street and Van Brunt Street to the west, Hicks Street to the east and Woodhull Street to the south.

The rezoning aims to preserve the row house character of over 80 percent of the study area by introducing a contextual zoning district with height limits of 50 feet.

The initiative will also match new zoning to preserve the established character by mapping contextual zoning designations, with height limits of 60 or 80 feet, along mixed used corridors of Court and Columbia Streets, as well as other densely built blocks, according to City Planning.

Specific locations along Smith, Henry and Hicks Streets where commercial uses already exist will be encouraged with the mapping of a commercial overlay to promote an expanded group of ground floor commercial uses, the agency stated. The plan also seeks to reduce the depths of commercial districts to reflect existing development patterns and “preclude commercial intrusions into residential side streets.”

Community Board 6 has 60 days to 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 extensive public review called the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure. The matter is tentatively scheduled to be weighed at Board 6’s Land Use⁄Landmarks Committee on June 25, at 6 p.m. at Long Island College Hospital. For details, got to

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