Assemblymember Colton Calls Department of City Planning’s Rezoning Effort a "Good First Step"

However, Colton states: "The battle to protect the overall community’s character and quality of life continues…"
February 15, 2005

Following years of mobilizing and spearheading the community’s fight against careless and reckless overdevelopment, Assemblymember William Colton (D-Bensonhurst/Gravesend) is calling the Department of City Planning’s (DCP) rezoning plan for portions of Bensonhurst and Gravesend "a positive first step in the right direction." However, Colton notes the plan, which was certified by the DCP just yesterday, is not perfect and does not cover and protect all of the areas affected or potentially affected by overdevelopment, but shows enough promise to satisfy the neighborhoods it envelops.

The current zoning proposal is entering the official ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure) public review process. The new zoning amendments that are in the process of being enacted will carry with them far more stringent restrictions for developers to follow in order to avoid further overdevelopment in certain neighborhoods. Portions of Bensonhurst, for example, 61st Street, between Bay Parkway and 23rd Avenue will be under an R4 zoning designation with a three-story development height limit, as opposed to the current R6 zoning designation that permits six-story high development.

"I commend the DCP for heeding some of the concerns of this community and I look forward to continue to work with them to ensure that the entire community’s character and quality life are both protected by reasonable zoning laws," said Colton. "It is both devastating and disheartening for a neighborhood to see a home on a low-rise block torn down, only to be replaced by a hi-rise multi-dwelling development-therefore, it is incumbent that we continue on the road to spread reasonable and sensible zoning laws across the entire community," he added.

The legislator points to areas west of Stillwell Avenue and west of Bay Parkway as still in urgent need of zoning protection. "We are still in a race against aggressive developers who will target areas not covered by the new zoning amendments," charged the lawmaker. "We must be steadfast with our actions to expeditiously cover all other neighborhoods vulnerable to careless overdevelopment," he went on to say.

In addition, Colton is urging the DCP to tackle the serious parking problem plaguing many in Brooklyn, as well as the entire city. "We need to begin seeing zoning laws that include language in it requiring additional parking spaces be provided commensurate to every new multi-dwelling development," he said. "Each new multi-dwelling development built, puts additional strain on parking, on schools, on our sewer system, and on all city services-therefore we need policy that will reflect that," Colton noted.

Long before the DCP began penciling in a new zoning map for parts of Bensonhurst and Gravesend, Colton along with the Quality of Life Committee (QOLC), a grassroots organization situated in Gravesend and Bensonhurst, met frequently to discuss ways to raise awareness among the greater community to rally around the cause of stopping careless overdevelopment.

QOLC President Lorraine Lapetina, Vice President Pat Dellamura, member Chiu Leung and so many others have spent countless hours going door to door in the Gravesend and Bensonhurst sections of Brooklyn bringing about a greater consciousness to this neighborhood epidemic. "The community and I are in great debt to all the tireless work and effort put forth by the QOLC," said the Assemblymember. From church bulletins to the office of the DCP Brooklyn Commissioner, the grassroots advocacy group has done everything to relay their message of protecting Bensonhurst and Gravesend’s historical nature and quality of life. It was in fact the QOLC that met with Regina Myer, along with Colton’s staff, to create a channel of communication in order to make recommendations to the DCP as to how to better improve the rezoning plan.

Assemblymember Colton and the QOLC just recently called on the city administration to create a task force, hire additional building inspectors, and stiffen the penalties for careless developers that break with the law-all in the name of preserving a community’s safety and quality of life. They plan to continue working together with the DCP and other city agencies to bring about the full protection of all neighborhoods from rash development. Through further outreach to religious establishments and other community groups, both Colton and the QOLC will push for additional sensible zoning protection as well as its enforcement.