City rezoned itself to allow ‘Green Church’ school

The Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like Brooklyn Paper on Facebook.

City officials did an end run around existing zoning to allow the construction of a large Bay Ridge school on the site of the demolished Green Church.

Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott quietly granted school construction officials a zoning waiver — without public review — in a maneuver that the city frequently employs when it wants to build a public facility that could not be built under the current zoning.

The waiver gave the green light to the 680-seat elementary school at the corner of Fourth and Ovington avenues — which will tower over five attached townhouses abutting it.

And that’s not kosher with the locals.

“That’s a dictatorship, not a democracy,” remarked Ovington Avenue resident Antoine Khaled. “They think they can do anything they want.”

The override allows the School Construction Authority, which requested the waiver in March, to build to a height of 62 feet along 72nd Street, where existing zoning permits only 32 feet. The waiver also allows the city to build to a height of 75 feet along Fourth Avenue, where a 60-foot-high building is permitted.

The city’s ability to override its own zoning without public review is “unfair,” contended preservationist Victoria Hofmo.

“I’m really concerned about the people on 72nd Street,” Hofmo said, stressing, “I think it’s really wrong. I had no idea that the school was going to block people’s backyards.”

Education officials “investigated several design approaches” before they came to the conclusion that they couldn’t build a school that conformed to the zoning and also served the educational needs of the community, Sharon Greenberger, president and chief executive officer of the School Construction Authority, told Wolcott back in March.

The school would relieve overcrowding in the district, which needs to add 3,046 seats to cover existing needs, Greenberger said.

The added height on the Fourth Avenue side — which will incorporate a church-like tower — is also a symbolic nod to the “Green Church” itself, a 109-year-old Gothic house of worship that was torn down by members of the Bay Ridge United Methodist Church because it had become too expensive to maintain. The congregation will use a portion of the cash from the sale to build a smaller church on a portion of the land.

City overrides of its own zoning are not uncommon when a project that is beneficial to city residents may be stymied by existing zoning, according to the Department of City Planning.

Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like Brooklyn Paper on Facebook.

Reasonable discourse

AJ from Bay Ridge says:
“That’s a dictatorship, not a democracy,” remarked Ovington Avenue resident Antoine Khaled.
- - -
Uhhhh, the U.S. is a republic, not a democracy. There IS a difference.
Nov. 29, 2010, 3:59 pm

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.