Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Toll Brothers Show Up With Usual Crew At City Planning Hearing


As Robert Toll continued to unload stocks of his company, Toll Brothers' New York V.P. David Von Spreckelsen showed up with his usual crew at the Planning Commission's hearing concerning their Gowanus development project. In addition, the unions sent half a dozen workers to speak for the project. Both Buddy Scotto and Mark Shames were there as well, whole-heartedly endorsing the project, even suggesting that it should be higher. Mr. Scotto told the board that he was " exceedingly happy and supports the project 100%, without reservations."

However,the voices of the community members who had yet again taken time off from their jobs, their families and their lives (and without pay) in order to attend this meeting, were loud and clear: The Toll Brothers' project should not go before the greater rezoning of the Gowanus area, the height and bulk of the development will dwarf the much lower surrounding brownstone neighborhood and foremost, the health risks of building on the shores of the polluted Gowanus may just be too much of a gamble.
Amongst those community members who voiced their concerns, were my local heroes:
Rita Miller, Steve Miller, Glenn Kelly, John Hatheway, Chris McVoy, Maria Pagano and Marlene Donnelly who handed in her statement.

Below is the testimony given by Glenn yesterday:

Dear Commissioner Burden:

I am writing to express our support for appropriate development along the Gowanus Canal and our concerns about the Toll Brothers project.
I have worked with the Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association for the past few years and serve as an Executive Committee Director and co-chair of the Land Use Committee. The CGNA has determined that there is consensus in Carroll Gardens for some control over the development occuring in our neighborhood and we are acting upon that consensus.
NYC Planning has recently introduced its plan for the rezoning of the Gowanus corridor and has committed to moving forward on the contextul zoning of Carroll Gardens. This will both allow for future development and protect the character and quality of life in the neighborhood.
The Gowanus plan is a good start and shows that a great deal of thought and community input went into it including lessons learned from the Park Slope/ Fourth Avenue rezoning. We have a great opportunity here and we have to get it right.
Our concern over the Toll Brothers' application is that we are circumnavigating the master rezoning process and allowing a developer to take the lead on how the Gowanus will look and work. While their plan has some wonderful aspects, it is the first one they presented. we should not be so quick to accept it without community input. It can be better.
We should not forget that, while we don't own the property, we, as citizens, do own the right to rezone the land and increase its value. This right and this value have too often been undervalued. Since we, as local residents, will have to live with the results, we should not allow developers, with only a profit motive to guide them, to hijack the planning process. The Gowanus plan will undergo changes and improvements which should apply to all of the development there in order to get the best result and one which we can all be proud of.

Glenn Kelly
Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association

Below is a video of John Hatheway's testimony.

Related Reading:

Will City Planning Actually Hear Community At Today's Toll Brothers' Gowanus Development Hearing?

Marty Markowitz Hears From Both Toll Brothers And From Residents

For Home Page, click Pardon Me For Asking


Anonymous said...

Many residents were not able to participate in this PUBLIC hearing as it was held at 10am during the workday.

If you care to send any statement, however brief, please send to:

Amanda Burden
Chairperson, NY City Planning
22 Reade Street
New York, New York 10007

You can reference the following in your statement:

Re: Toll Brothers, 363-365 Bond Street, Brooklyn

CEQR No. 08DCP033K
ULURP Nos. 090047 ZMK, 090048 ZSK,
N090049 ZRY, N090050 ZRY,
N09001 ZRY
NYC Department of City Planning

Anonymous said...

How are those of us livinging in this neighborhood supposed to understand how this system works, let along have the time to go to a public hearing at 10am on a Monday.

This is all setup to justify an open public process when the public can't and doesn't know how to participate.

If we can just drop term-limits, why can't we just make community planning work for the community too.