April 5 -
City To Help With CB7 Zoning Study
By ANNIE SHREFFLER
In an ongoing effort to improve living conditions in this growing
part of the northwest Bronx, Community Board 7 decided at its February
meeting to authorize the city’s Department of Planning to work with them on
the rezoning process referred to as 197C in the city’s Charter.
Now, members of the Long Term Planning and Land Use committees are looking
at problem spots in the district and are considering new development
With the help of City Planning, individual areas can be addressed with
rezoning, usually within a year. The 197C process eliminates the daunting
costs of development consultants and the delays caused by long reviews of
the entire district, according to Rita Kessler, CB7’s district manager.
One of the areas to examine will be the district’s eastern riverfront. The
Long Term Planning Committee reported at the March community board meeting
that it hopes to work cooperatively with Community Boards 4 and 5, as well
as a Harlem River task force, to develop the waterfront. Members of the
community are already involved in a river cleanup effort and would like to
see the area rezoned for more public access and green space.
Board member Paul Foster said another area under review is a residential
section near Montefiore Medical Center. Because the large institution has
converted so many private homes to office space, residents feel the
neighborhood is left vulnerable and unoccupied after business hours,
creating a kind of dead zone.
As a creative way to prevent dead zones or unwanted commercial changes from
occurring on Mosholu Parkway, the community board is also considering one
resident’s suggestion to apply for the parkway’s designation as a Community
Preservation Area. This change would protect current building facades,
beautify the parkway and help some older buildings obtain landmark status.
With the ability to make zoning changes using the 197C process, the
community board can also prevent unwanted development. Rezoning may be able
to stop the construction of larger buildings, curbing the rise in population
density and strains on already busy transportation and sanitation systems.
One new development under consideration is an application for a variance by
the Doe Fund to build two eight-story, single-room occupancy buildings on
Webster Avenue. The Land Use Committee debated the pros and cons of
supporting the application at their last meeting.
While no one relished the idea of building 84 units to house men just
released from prison, committee members recognized the importance of the
reintegration process run by the reputable Doe Fund. The committee decided
to invite Doe Fund representatives back (only their attorney came to the
initial meeting), and ask them to compromise by creating two-bedroom housing
units as well, which would allow people rebuilding their lives to establish
roots, raise families and truly live in the community.
CB7 Chairperson Gregory Faulkner feels positive about working with City
Planning, saying this partnership in the 197C process will accomplish many
of the same changes as a larger redevelopment plan would, but sooner.
“The planning office gives tremendous support, doing a lot of the legwork
[on re-zoning initiatives] and walking us through the technical aspects of
each project,” he said. “We’re not restricted to one area, but Webster
Avenue is a priority.”
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