Assemblyman Colton Assemblyman
Reports to the People
Fall 2005


Following years of leading the community’s fight against careless and reckless overdevelopment, Assemblyman Colton is calling the rezoning plan enacted last June for portions of Bensonhurst and Gravesend a "good first step." While the Assemblyman did note that the plan does not cover all of the areas threatened by overdevelopment, it does help protect the areas it covers.


photo In the past few years our neighborhood became a prime target for overdevelopment. Unfortunately, many of the buildings being put up were out of character with the neighborhood. Although many blocks of the community are low-rise one- and two-family homes, the neighborhood was zoned R-5 and R-6. These designations allow for buildings to be built up to 6 to 7 stories high and to extend right up to the property line. Making matters worse was the loophole that allowed buildings which include some community facilities, such as medical offices, to be built twice as large without requiring any special permits or community review.


new planning zone Assemblyman Colton, responding to the concerns raised by many of his constituents, led the charge to get the city to pass a downzoning plan to limit such overdevelopment. As early as 2000, the Assemblyman met with Community Board 11 and the Department of City Planning, taking them on tours of the neighborhood to show them the problem first hand. When the Department of City Planning, at that time, failed to respond to the problem, Colton took the fight to the next level. Assemblyman Colton led a neighborhood grassroots campaign, working with community groups, such as the Quality of Life Committee headed by Lorraine Lapetina, to raise the neighborhood’s concerns.

Colton believes the new downzoning plan which took effect on June 23, 2005, is a major step in the right direction. It limits new development to fit the existing character on the block.

Some greedy developers are fighting to avoid the new zoning rules. Many rushed to get their foundations finished before the new zoning rules took effect. Some of those that could not complete their foundations are appealing for more time. Assemblyman Colton vehemently opposed these attempts by speaking at the Community Board 11 meeting, and also at the Board of Standard and Appeals Hearing in September.

Colton is also fighting for better enforcement of building codes and zoning laws. Assemblyman Colton is calling on the City Administration to create a Brooklyn Growth Management Task Force to review all requested building permits. The Assemblyman is demanding that the city hire more building inspectors, increase inspections and stiffen penalties for developers who violate building safety codes.

Assemblyman Colton plans to continue to reach out to various civic groups in order to pressure the Department of City Planning to build upon their success in rezoning portions of Gravesend and Bensonhurst by expanding the plan to areas not covered.

Colton working with Community Leaders

photo Assemblyman Colton met with (from left to right) Rabbi E. Schwartz, Rabbi A. Amar, Rabbi J. Leiner and Rabbi C. Bomzer, at the Ezra Torah Breakfast, discussing issues affecting the community. One topic of conversation was the Assemblyman’s legislation that would stiffen penalties for vandalizing property with hate symbols such as swastikas.

Colton Closes Halfway House Located Near Schools

photo Assemblyman Colton, pictured talking with concerned residents, claimed an important victory when a halfway house for drug addicts was relocated from McDonald Avenue. The halfway house, which opened with no notice being given to the community, was located just blocks away from three schools, Magen David Yeshiva, PS 95 and PS 215. Colton, other public officials and neighborhood residents were concerned about the proximity of this house to these schools and a neighborhood park some 200 feet away. There were also concerns for the residents of the house as the City Buildings and Fire Departments both issued safety violations to the landlord. The house has since been relocated out of the neighborhood.

Between West 10TH & 11TH Streets
Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday 10 AM to 3 PM
Thursday Noon to 8 PM
Friday 10 AM to Noon

Stop in or call for assistance with:
10 AM to Noon

Assemblyman Colton has made arrangements for the Metrocard bus to come to his community office on the last Friday of every month.

Wed. December 14th
Space is limited. Call for appointment.

Heap and HeartShare are programs that help low income families and seniors pay their heating bills and may also provide assistance for heating emergencies. You can get applications and assistance at Colton’s office.

2005-06 Income Guidelines

Household Size Monthly Income Limit
1 $1,803
2 $2,358
Income levels go up as household size increases.

photo Assemblyman Colton discusses the situation at 2260 West St. with Senator Kruger and others.

Picture this: moving trucks show up on your quiet low-rise residential block and unload some twenty mattresses and filled black garbage bags into an empty residential house. Then you see people pacing back and forth in front of the building. Wouldn’t you be concerned?

This happened on West Street. Residents there started calling Assemblyman Colton looking for answers about what was happening. The Assemblyman, very concerned in light of the recent discovery of a newly opened halfway house for drug addicts on McDonald Avenue, just blocks away from three schools (Magden David Yeshiva, PS 95, and PS 215), immediately leapt into action.

It was soon discovered that the entire house had been rented by the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty as a long-term dormitory-like facility for men with borderline personality disorders such as schizophrenia. No notice was given to the community prior to the opening of this "group" home. The failure to notify the community or local elected officials made a sensitive situation even worse, especially since the community was still reeling from the shock that a halfway house, now shut down, had slipped into its backyard and not knowing what to expect next.


The Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty is receiving funding for this house from the "supported" housing initiative. The guidelines for the New York State Office of Mental Health "supported" housing initiative state that the goal of this program is to allow mentally ill people the opportunity to live independently in their own apartment. The guidelines envision these apartments being spread across a community, not concentrated in one building. The guidelines also clearly state that the goal is to give each person their own apartment, but if they are to share apartments, each person should have their own bedroom.

The building in question is a three to four family house in the middle of a block of low-rise houses. The landlord was issued a Department of Buildings violation on August 25th for illegally altering the premises to create more units than the number approved for that site. The Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty states that this residence is designed for ten beds. Where are they all going?


The guidelines for this program state its aim is helping mentally ill people rent individual apartments scattered throughout a community. The problem with this site is that an entire building was taken over. There was no notice given to city officials or to the community prior to the opening of this "group home." Since it is not licensed by any agency, there is no one to answer to if there are problems.

In addition, there are concerns for the residents of the building. Given the size of the building, it is doubtful that having ten beds would allow for each resident to have an apartment with a private bedroom. Because this is "private" housing there is no requirement that residents continue their treatment and medications. The West Street home does not follow the guidelines of the "supported" housing program and therefore denies the residents their rights under this program.

Since the state provides funding per bed and not per apartment, by leasing an entire building and subletting beds, it appears there are forces more interested in making money by creating more beds in each apartment than in maintaining the safety and quality of life both for the people living inside this residence and for those living on the block.


Community leaders Charles Ragusa and Jeanette Givant helped coordinate a major petition drive with the help of community residents, netting thousands of signatures. The petitions, along with a letter from Assemblyman Colton, have been mailed to Commissioner Carpinello of the New York State Office of Mental Health, demanding she shut down the program due to numerous safety concerns.

Working together with the Quality of Life Committee, headed by Lorraine Lapetina, a massive town hall meeting was held. The meeting drew hundreds of concerned neighborhood residents and media reports that further publicized the community’s concerns. Through that enormous showing, we were able to obtain further political support from elected officials across Southern Brooklyn.

From a demonstration on the block of West Street to a protest motorcade to the landlord’s house in Midwood, Assemblyman Colton and the community have actively worked to voice the community’s strong objections to this controversial establishment. Hundreds of neighborhood residents worked long hours to help set up and organize these events.

Joining other elected officials from Southern Brooklyn, Assemblyman Colton attended a press conference calling for New York City to adopt legislation that would require community notification prior to opening such establishments in the middle of residential neighborhoods.

After inaction on the part of the Commissioner of NYS Office of Mental Health, Assemblyman Colton has started a letter and telephone call campaign to urge the Governor to take action.

Assemblyman Colton will continue to fight for the quality of life for all members of our community, including the residents of the West Street home.


Assemblyman Colton has vowed to continue his fight for the community to stop the City’s plan to put a waste transfer station at the site of the old Southwest Brooklyn Incinerator. The City Council’s failure to reject this plan is not the last step. The fight will continue.

Bad History at This Site

Before being elected to the Assembly, Colton led the fight to close the Southwest Brooklyn Incinerator. The incinerator had been operating illegally in our community for some thirty years. Thanks to the efforts of Colton and others, the incinerator was shut down in 1989. In 2002 the Assemblyman successfully kept the incinerator closed after the City started talking about reopening the site.

Transfer Station Proposal

The City’s Solid Waste Management Plan seeks to use the site of the incinerator. This time they want to open a waste transfer station. Garbage would be dumped at the site by trucks to be containerized and then put on barges to be shipped to some final undetermined destination.

Neighborhood Quality of Life to be Impacted

An operating waste transfer station in the neighborhood will increase traffic congestion from garbage trucks hauling residential and commercial garbage, will contaminate water and fish, and will lower our quality of life.

Assemblyman Colton has led the community fight against this plan. Among his concerns is the failure of the City to do an accurate environmental impact study (EIS). The EIS was based on the transfer station processing 1,800 tons of garbage a day while its true capacity will be 4,100 tons a day. The EIS also failed to identify how the nearby residents’ quality of life will be affected as well as the effects on nearby schools, parks and a children’s amusement park. There are also concerns about the affect on local commercial fish that were not addressed by the EIS.

Colton is also concerned about the inadequacy of the entire solid waste plan the City has proposed. The City has no final destination for the containerized garbage and also fails to adequately address recycling, something that could save the City millions of dollars.

Colton takes action:
  • The Assemblyman contacted all 51 City Council Members, calling on the City Council to vote against this plan.

  • Colton, along with Community Leaders Jeanette Givant and Charles Ragusa, set up a task force to help raise awareness about the proposed waste transfer station and collected thousands of petition signatures to stop it.

  • The Assemblyman organized a town hall meeting to discuss the plans with concerned residents.

  • Assemblyman Colton testified at a Council Sanitation Hearing to oppose the solid waste plan and to present constructive alternatives to it.

Taking the Fight to the Next Level

Colton will take the fight to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The DEC must schedule public hearings on the City’s plan and Assemblyman Colton will be gearing up the community to speak out at the hearings. You can contact Assemblyman Colton’s office at 718-236-1598 to get information on how you can help stop the transfer station.

Colton Secures Funds For Belt Parkway Improvement

Assemblyman Colton obtained over $900,000 for the City Department of Transportation to help cover the costs of widening the exit ramp of the Belt Parkway at Bay Parkway. This exit experiences numerous problems with cars backing up onto the Belt Parkway and traffic backing up along Bay Parkway. Adjacent to this exit was a badly paved area long neglected by the Parks Department. Assemblyman Colton helped come up with state money to improve traffic flow through the intersection of the Belt Parkway at the Bay Parkway exit and to pave the area around Shore Parkway and the Bay which had been ignored by the Parks Department for years.

Drivers and Pedestrians
Thanks to Assemblyman Colton

Part of protecting our quality of life is making sure we are safe. That is why Assemblyman Colton continues to fight for better traffic lights and road conditions.

Some of the recent improvements Assemblyman Colton has fought for are:

traffic light
  • Repair of a sinkhole at West 9th Street and Kings Highway

  • Traffic light installed at Van Sicklen Street and Avenue S

  • Traffic light installed at Cropsey Avenue and Bay 43rd Street

  • Traffic light installed at Avenue S and West 11th Street