In a rare move, the New York City Council today rejected the application to change the zoning of 4802 18th Avenue from a private two-family home to a commercial bank. The unanimous rejection of this zoning change came upon the recommendation of Councilman David G. Greenfield who, because of community opposition, was staunchly opposed to this rezoning. This is the first time in years that the Council has voted to deny a zoning change in Boro Park. Over development is a significant concern in Boro Park where developers have traditionally had free-reign in their development projects.
Councilmember Greenfield applauded members of the Council Land Use Committee & the full City Council as each unanimously voted against the proposed commercial rezoning of a residential lot in the 44th Council District in Brooklyn. The lot in question sits at the corner of 18th Avenue and 48th Street, an area struggling to keep its residential character. 18th Avenue is a mixed use avenue where some blocks are residential and others are commercial, and this particular block of 18th Avenue is completely residential.
The real estate developer purchased this home just a few years ago with the intention of turning it into some sort of commercial development. After intense speculation on what exactly the developer wanted to build, the developer settled on a proposal to build a full-service seven day a week bank in place of the two-story residential home.
The developer’s proposal to build a bank was unanimously voted down by local Community Board 12. Residents of the block also submitted numerous letters of opposition to the Council’s Land Use committee and appeared at the hearing today to testify unanimously against the zoning application.
Councilman Greenfield thanked his colleagues at the City Council, “I really appreciate Speaker Quinn’s leadership and the support of the entire City Council, especially Chairs Comrie & Weprin, in favor of a grass-roots community effort to keep a residential neighborhood intact,” said Greenfield. “I am absolutely pro-development. But the community’s interests will always come first. In this case, the community board and the neighbors were all opposed to this project for very good reason,” Greenfield explained. “This rezoning would have changed a purely residential block into a commercial one. That would have irreversibly altered the character of this block and community.”
Numerous residents opposed the rezoning because of concerns that the bank would introduce a host of problems associated with commercial zones and banks in particular, including increased traffic, lack of parking and the introduction of a seven day a week after-hour bank in an area where most shops close early and on the weekends.
Councilman Greenfield received dozens of phone calls, emails and faxes opposing this project and not a single one in favor. “Please leave our neighborhood residential, for our children’s sake and for the senior citizens who need some peace and tranquility,” wrote one couple who moved on to the quite block because, in their own words, they would enjoy “mental and physical well being.”
Many of the residents pointed out that the only reason they purchased their homes on 48th Street was because of the fact that the block was completely residential. Even the children on the block got involved by penning a letter to the land use committee imploring them to stop the proposal because if a bank was constructed “there will be so many people on the streets that we will not be able to play outside!”
Councilman Greenfield concurred, “I was elected to advocate on behalf of the community. I am grateful that I was able to do just that and ensure that the residents of 48th Street will continue to enjoy a beautiful residential block,” Greenfield explained. “Boro Park doesn’t need more banks. It needs more blocks like this one.”
(YWN Desk – NYC)