Pouring it on: Smith Street developer seems likely to get all seven stories

The pen may be mightier than the sword — but it’s not always faster than a real-estate developer with a concrete truck.

The city is aiming to use a stroke of a pen to limit the size of new buildings on many blocks in Carroll Gardens, but it doesn’t look like the new zoning will be approved in time to force developer Billy Stein to reduce the scale of his controversial Smith Street project.

All Stein has to do is pour the concrete in the foundation of his proposed seven-story apartment building at the corner of Second Place before a Department of City Planning zoning change can be approved by the City Council.

The zoning change in question is a reclassification of many streets with the famous front-yard gardens from a “wide” boulevard to a “narrow” street, which permits lower maximum height and density.

Residents, who have been critical of Stein’s project because of its bulk, original metallic façade — since redrawn — and absorption of part of the plaza outside the adjacent Carroll Street F-train station, say they are not hopeful that the project can but cut down.

“It would take lightning speed of the [City] Council,” for the zoning change to take effect before the building’s foundation is laid, said Gary Reilly, a member of the Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association.

According to Stein’s “Oliver House” Web site, workers are currently constructing the foundation at the property, which once used the address 360 Smith St., but now exists as 131 Second Pl. Stein did not respond to requests to provide a timeline for the project, but did say, in a statement, “I am hopeful that any action taken by City Planning will not impair or delay the completion [of] this desirable project.”

Redefining the streets must be reviewed by two Council committees before being voted on by the full body, a process that could take months. It takes far less time to pour a foundation, which is the city requirement for a project to be considered underway under existing zoning.