Post-zoning, issues remain, but it¡¯s been a Net gain


By Dominic Pisciotta and Susan Stetzer

Community Board 3 has been extremely busy over the last year0„2fielding0„2service complaints, weighing in on public policy and providing a structure for citizens to participate in decision-making on community issues, as well as raising awareness about issues important to them.

A0„2serious concern facing C.B. 3 has been the exploding growth of buildings that0„2are out of context0„2with the historic low-height buildings found in the East Village and Lower East Side neighborhoods within C.B. 3¡¯s boundaries. On Nov. 19, 2008,0„2more than0„2three years0„2after C.B. 3¡¯s 197-a Task Force ¡ª a coalition of community stakeholders and their representatives ¡ª first asked the city of New York for a major swath of the Lower East Side and East Village to be rezoned according to a set of0„211 guiding principles, the City Council ratified a majority of what the task force sought. This was a monumental occasion for the board and the community, as well as probably the singular most important item to come out of C.B. 3 this past year.

An area of 111 blocks was ultimately rezoned in the plan. Height caps now range from 80 feet to 120 feet depending on the location of a building. While an estimated 343 new units of affordable housing0„2will be created as part of the rezoning, C.B. 3 will continue to work with our elected officials and the city to create more. Rezoning the Bowery corridor ¡ª the Bowery from Canal St. to E.0„2Fifth St., and Third Ave.0„2from north of E.0„2Fifth St. to E. 13th St. ¡ª0„2will continue to be considered, as will possibly rezoning areas of Chinatown.

There were other agreements successfully made between our elected officials and the Mayor¡¯s Office in the final days before the rezoning was passed, and Community Board 3 would like to see these agreements met.

While the community board¡¯s biggest project was the rezoning, C.B. 3 members have also been very busy on other issues. Transportation issues0„2became even more urgent. The board worked with community groups, elected officials and the city to create more public awareness to report illegal placard parking and continued to work with city agencies to lobby for community needs of enhanced enforcement.0„2

On Forsyth St., the board successfully completed three years of work with the Department of Transportation to successfully create a park-side parking lane and bicycle lane alongside Sara Delano Roosevelt0„2Park for increased parking and safety, and changed angle parking to parallel parking on the sidewalk side to resolve the many community problems reported to the board. C.B. 3 also worked with community groups and D.O.T. to install new bike racks, including0„2more than0„2200 bike spaces in the Cooper Square area. Non-M.T.A. buses and commuter van loading/unloading, layover parking and idling have become an increasing source of resident complaints. The community board hopes that 2009 will see more success in working with elected officials and the city to resolve these issues.0„2

The board continues to see many new applications for liquor licenses; C.B. 3 sees more new licensed businesses than any other district in the city. This year the board organized and formalized its policies that might impact applicants for licenses and posted this information on our Web site.0„2This step not only ensures that all applicants have the same information, it makes them aware of board policies before entering into lease agreements.0„2C.B. 30„2also makes every new applicant aware of these policies upon notification to the board.

In addition, the board engaged in ongoing discussions and meetings with the local police precinct, residents and licensed businesses within the area of Third and Fourth Aves. and 10th and 11th Sts. to alleviate increasing resident complaints of noise and traffic congestion in this area. This is being accomplished through enforcement by agencies and changes in operating policies by these establishments.

And speaking of the community board Web site, the board has not only made many more resources available on our site ¡ª such as notices of block parties and links to local resources ¡ª but also has all votes from the full board meetings posted on the Web site within 24 hours. In addition, a new e-mail subscription allows everyone interested to sign up on the Web site0„2to receive0„2monthly calendars of committee and full-board meetings and announcements in specific areas of interest.

The board also held many public forums and participated in community meetings regarding the redevelopment of the East River esplanade. This resulted in board support for the land-use ¡°ULURP¡± vote and consensus suggestions for development. C.B. 3 encourages everyone to visit the Web site, www.cb3manhattan.org, to sign up for e-mail announcements and the meetings agenda and to see the many resources available on the Web site.

All community board meetings are always open to the public, and all are encouraged to come and participate.

Pisciotta is chairperson and Stetzer is district manager, Community Board 3