Disgraced former state Sen. Carl Kruger chewed out a rep from the Department of City Planning at a community meeting in Bergen Beach on June 19.
The corrupt one-time pol ripped into the agency’s hapless messenger as she attempted to brief area residents on a proposed area rezoning, which would require all new and some existing buildings be raised off the ground to accommodate new federal flood standards.
And, while locals aren’t thrilled by the prospect of lifting their properties 12 feet above the street, the idea of a convicted felon excoriating a civil servant for doing her job didn’t sit right with some community members.
“People were receptive to the idea behind his message, but not receptive of him,” said Rohan Dewar, a member of Community Board 18. “They knew his background and weren’t too happy with what he had done. I never got the feeling he was the champion for the people, I got that he was stumping.”
The city is proposing a rezoning of coastal areas within Community Board 18 — including Marine Park, Mill Basin, Canarsie, Bergen Beach, and Gerritsen Beach — in order to accommodate new federal flood maps, which are being revised as a direct result of the devastating tidal surges that inundated southern Brooklyn during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
In addition to codifying the temporary zoning changes made in the wake of the deadly super storm — such as granting developers additional height allowances to accommodate the installation of rooftop mechanical equipment — the proposed rezoning would require all new construction be raised as much as 12 feet off the ground to comply with the new federal guidelines.
The owners of existing buildings undergoing renovations valued at 50 percent or more of the existing structure’s market value would be required to raise their properties as well.
During the meeting, Kruger — who was sentenced to seven years in prison for accepting bribes from local businesses in exchange for political favors as part of a classic quid-pro-quo corruption scheme — railed at the City Planning rep, shouting that area seniors would have difficulty reaching their own front doors as a result of the new height requirement, and that the city should instead focus on building sea walls to prevent future flooding.
But the idea that the city can simply build a sea gate capable of protecting all southern Brooklyn is a fantasy, according to an expert on the resiliency crisis, who said the city simply doesn’t have the funding to accomplish the colossal engineering feet.
“Building a wall against the north Atlantic is not going to work,” said Elizabeth Malone, a resiliency expert at the nonprofit group National Housing Services Brooklyn, which hosts workshops to educate Brooklynites on flood insurance and home resiliency.
The real issue facing local property owners, according to Malone, is the huge cost associated with raising hundreds of multi-family dwellings, many of which date back to the 1930s, located within the new federal flood zones, or else face astronomical premiums on federal flood insurance, which can top more than $10,000 per year.
And unless something is done to mitigate the costs for middle-income families to raise their homes, Malone predicted southern Brooklyn neighborhoods would devolve into ghost towns, with residents fleeing the harsh new realities imposed as a result of the 2012 super storm.
“The worst case scenario is going belly-up — they are going to abandon and walk away,” Malone said, “which is sad because there is no place like home.”
The felon’s tirade follows threatening remarks he allegedly made to a small-business owner after she requested the community’s blessing to expand her event’s business following a meeting in April.
“After the meeting, Carl Kruger told us it was never going to happen, and not to waste my time. He was kind of threatening us,” Khadidra Muhammad, owner of Priceless Event Planning, told the paper in April.