Thursday, March 30, 2006

Columbia Spectator

CB7 Hears Concerns on Zoning
Residents Worry That Proposal Would Put Strain on Local Infrastructure
By Kate RuskinSpectator Staff Writer
March 30, 2006

In a town hall meeting that packed a synagogue at West End Avenue and W. 100th Street with hundreds of people, CB7�s West 96th-110th Street Planning Task Force heard testimonies from concerned citizens for their upcoming resolution about rezoning the area.

The task force has scheduled its decision on what types of zoning to suggest in a resolution for its April 11 meeting, and it held last night�s meeting to receive feedback and hear suggestions from community members. At the last meeting, suggestions by the City Planning Commission, which worked closely with the task force for several months to collect data about the composition of the neighborhood, angered many local residents.

�We found that [their proposal] to be very disingenuous,� said Miki Fiegel, president of the group West Siders for Responsible Development, after the meeting in March. �But I think they got the message when they looked into the crowd and saw 150 people wearing 7-A, 8-A stickers.�

The commission suggested upzoning Broadway to 9-X, which allows approximately five more stories than 8-A zoning, the type that is overwhelmingly supported by the crowd. At the meeting last night, hundreds of local residents sported bright green tags that said �8-A, 7-A.�

Manhattan borough president Scott Stringer attended the meeting, eliciting much applause from the crowd with an enthusiastic declaration of his support for their fight to rezone the area.

�I do believe that skylines change and development should occur in this city because that�s how they grow, but I believe it should occur with the cooperation of the community,� he said.

More than a dozen community members gave two-minute testimonials. Issues raised included many complaints that have been mentioned in previous forums, such as the strain that an influx of new residents will place on public services like transportation and schools.

The audience frequently interrupted speakers with applause as they listed grievances, offered potential solutions, and made enthusiastic calls to action, which ranged from blocking bulldozers to requesting a temporary moratorium on all development in the area.

If the community board approves the decision made by the task force, the resolution will then proceed through the borough president�s office and be subject to a public hearing with the City Planning Commission. The resolution is ultimately voted on by the City Council after public review by the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure.

If an environmental impact statement must be filed, the process will take at least seven months, according to a representative from city councilmember Inez Dickens�s office. Dickens is meeting with the City Planning Commission to discuss how they can avoid an EIS procedure, which could shorten the process to as little as two months.

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