Carroll Gardens downzone on a roll

for The Brooklyn Paper
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A three-year fight against “out of scale” buildings in Carroll Gardens is heading towards victory on Monday, as the City Council is expected to approve a downzoning that would cap building heights in most of the picturesque neighborhood.

Monday’s Council hearing and expected vote is the culmination of the Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association’s pushed to downzone 86 blocks so that new buildings can not exceed 50 feet on side streets and 70 on main routes.

Such a height restriction, supporters say, will protect a neighborhood of lush front gardens and low-rise Italianate brownstones from tall, bulky, modern condos.

“There is a definite fear that there will be an erosion of the historic character of our neighborho­od,” said Glenn Kelly, co-chairman of association’s Land Use Committee.

The rezoning has not been controversial — but a percolating effort to widen the tiny Carroll Gardens Historic District could be.

The existing historic zone is one of the smallest in the city, covering only the area bounded by President, Carroll, Smith and Hoyt streets. Some property owners are resistant to expanding the zone because such landmark districts make it tougher for homeowners to alter their properties with additions, façade changes or even paint jobs.

“Landmarking is back door to city [control over] our own historic buildings,” said Anna Constantino, who owns a building on Third Place. “Why would I want to have people tell me how to live in my house?!”

Kelly, who has lived in a landmarked building in Carroll Gardens’ historical district for 24 years, said that he feels comforted with the regulations.

“With Landmarks, I know my neighbor won’t do something stupid like paint the building pink,” said Kelly. “My building and my neighborhood is protected.”

The City Council’s Zoning Committee will take up the downzoning issue on Oct. 26 at 9:30 am at City Hall [Centre Street at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge in Manhattan, (212) 788-4636].

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