Curb cut relief

They’re still thinking and reviewing, but members of Community Board 10 seem generally enthusiastic over proposed changes in the city’s Zoning Text that would tighten restrictions on the addition of curb cuts and front yard parking pads.

The Residential Streetscape Presentation Text Amendment was released by the Department of City Planning (DCP) on November 16th, and is now undergoing public review, with community boards, borough boards and borough presidents asked to comment on it by January 25, 2010.

For the text amendment in question, the goal is to protect the character of residential communities which are being altered as more and more people cut the curbs and pave over their gardens. To that end, it makes numerous changes in the existing zoning to eliminate loopholes now being taken advantage of.

“This is good news for Bay Ridge and for our entire community district,” stressed Joanne Seminara, the chair of the Zoning and Land Use Committee, who will be taking over as chair of CB 10 on January 1st.

“It does address the growing proliferation of curb cuts and front yard parking which, as you know, eliminates public parking spaces and destroys our streetscapes,” Seminara went on. “It’s critical to issues we have been discussing forever and ever.”

However, while board members are clearly optimistic, more study of the specific proposals is necessary, said Seminara, because of the broad scope of the amendment. At the board’s December meeting, which was held in the community room at Shore Hill, 9000 Shore Road, Seminara noted that the proposal “amends more than 40 sections of the Zoning Resolution.”

At the committee’s December meeting, she reported, members had spent upwards of two hours reviewing the changes. The committee, Seminara reported, “is particularly pleased that the amendment would prohibit front yard parking in front of rowhouses without a side yard in single and two-family zoning districts and reinforce the prohibition on curb cuts for all buildings on lots less than 40 feet wide in R4B through R8B districts.”

The latter issue hits close to home for the board, which had fought against a curb cut permit issued to a homeowner on 70th Street between Eighth Avenue and Fort Hamilton Parkway.

That home, one of 19 attached houses dating from the early years of the 20th century, was granted the permit based on the presumed existence of a “side lot ribbon,” even though the house didn’t have a side yard, to the dismay of residents on the block who were unhappy over the defacement of the row of homes.

“We have been heard. They almost said it was a mistake, that that block was sacrificed, if you will, but this amendment takes care of the problem,” Seminara told her listeners, emphasizing, “This is very important.”

The board will vote on the amendment at their January general meeting.