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In Dyker Heights, Doctoroff says nabe rezone plan likely this fall

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Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Daniel Doctoroff said this week that a zoning plan now being tailored for Dyker Heights could come before the public as early as this fall.

The Dyker rezoning, Doctoroff said, would likely include 170 blocks.

While scant, Doctoroff’s remarks, during an April 26 Bay Ridge Community Council meeting, offer the most detailed glimpse into the zoning proposal since Mayor Michael Bloomberg threw his own support behind the project in October.

“As we speak, the Department of City Planning is looking at the area,” said Doctoroff, best known these days for leading the city’s 2012 Olympics bid. “What we’ve come to learn is that one size across this city really does not fit all.”

Kristin Guild, of the Department of City Planning’s Brooklyn office, who accompanied Doctoroff to the meeting at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church Tuesday night, confirmed the details and added that a handful of planning technicians began evaluating the neighborhood last month. Among other matters, the planners are studying “transit corridors and building form,” she said.

“It’s very preliminary at this point,” said Guild. “But, yes, it’s been on our work program for a long time.”

If all goes as planned, said Guild, the rezoning plan could be certified by September and start its review under the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) with hearings before Community Board 10. The seven-month review process calls for hearings before and recommendations by CB10, Borough President Marty Markowitz, the City Planning Commission and the City Council.

As plans to rezone 249 blocks of Bay Ridge were approved by the City Council last month, elected officials in southwest Brooklyn, most notably Councilman Vincent Gentile, called on the Department of City Planning to begin anew in Dyker Heights. The effort, say Gentile and members of CB10, is one that they hope will protect one- and two- family homes from overactive condominium development.

Dyker Heights is bounded by Seventh Avenue to the west, 65th Street to the north, 14th Avenue to the east and the Belt Parkway to the south.

Besides zoning matters, Doctoroff touted the city’s continued drop in crime since Bloomberg took office in 2002 while also emphasizing that overall crime in Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights has dropped by 12 percent since last year. While still impressive, CompStat records provided by the NYPD indicate that crime is down by only 8 percent, with burglaries seeing a slight 3-percent rise in those neighborhoods.

After speaking briefly to the crowd of more than 100 Dyker Heights and Bay Ridge residents gathered at the church on 80th Street and 10th Avenue, as well as several dozen police officers from the 68th Police Precinct, a round of questions revealed that Doctoroff was not particularly well-versed in the issues confronting this area of the city.

Asked whether ferry service would one day return to the 69th Street Pier, where water transportation vanished after the pier had to be rebuilt when sea organisms chewed it beyond repair in 1997, Doctoroff refused to speak specifically about that proposal. He said, however, that while the Bloomberg administration has its sights set on reviving water-bound transportation, the challenge was in creating a business model that was financially prudent.

“You charge 5 cents, it loses money,” said Doctoroff. “You charge $2 it loses money. If you charge $5 it loses money. And that’s what we need to figure out.”

Last month, Gentile and Councilman David Yassky, chairman of the waterfronts committee, revealed that money earmarked for ferry service at 69th Street as well as renovation of a dock at 58th Street were being withheld by the city Department of Transportation.

Doctoroff also said he was open to meeting with members of the Gowanus Stakeholders Group, the organization that has been studying alternatives to the ailing Gowanus Expressway. Michael Cairl, chairman of the group, which has designed a series of plans that would see the expressway demolished and re-imagined underground, said that Doctoroff’s ear would be a boon to the plan.

When a reporter asked Doctoroff for his opinion on a tunnel replacing the expressway, the deputy mayor first acknowledged his own ignorance of the plan.

Then he said, “It should have been done when they built it the first time.”

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