The show must go on!
On the last day of the 2009 session, the City Council passed the Broadway Triangle rezoning plan by an overwhelming margin, 36 voting yes, 10 no, with 4 abstensions, ending months of political wrangling and demonstrations.
“We believe this is a project that will bring affordable housing to a part of the city which needs it,” said Council Speaker Christine Quinn after the on December 21 vote. “We are very mindful this project is not without opposition but on the balance, the pluses outweigh the minuses.”
Mayor Michael Bloomberg welcomed the news, proclaiming that the rezoning of the 31-acre South Williamsburg industrial site will spur the development of more than 1800 units of housing, 44 percent of which will be affordable.
“Today, we’ve re-imagined what the area could and should be, and the re-zoning passed by the City Council will transform a largely vacant and underutilized area into a thriving new neighborhood,” said Mayor Bloomberg.
In likely his final act as a Council member, David Yassky (D-Williamsburg) urged his colleagues to support the Broadway Triangle rezoning, which they largely did,
“This is not an Atlantic Yards situation where ULURP was circumvented. It went through full ULURP process and had dozens of public and semi-public meetings in the decade leading up to this. Anybody who wanted to put up an alternative proposal for this site has had their plan heard and not necessarily adopted.”
Councilmember Diana Reyna (D-Williamsburg) urged her colleagues to reject the proposal, claiming that the plan “had no open process, had no participatory process and was exclusive to two organizations”.
“Not only is this giving us the minimum, it’s looking to displace hundreds of jobs in this area,” said Reyna. “For any plan not to address economic development and job creation, it’s not a plan at all. All I have been asking for is a plan for our community.”
Opponents of the Broadway Triangle plan to file an amended lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court the next day, asking for a court-ordered injunction to stop the plan. The suit alleges that the city’s Department of Housing and Preservation Development, its commissioner Rafael Cestero, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg violated the federal Fair Housing Act and the federal Civil Rights Act in advancing the rezoning plan originally proposed by the United Jewish Organizations and the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council.
“We’re taking this rezoning from City Hall to the city courtroom,” said Brooklyn Corporation A legal intern Shekar Krishnan, who is representing the Broadway Triangle Community Coalition. “The suit will bring out the political aspects of this case and show that this is not an isolated incident. There is a long history regarding discrimination in Williamsburg over the past 40 years.”
Yet, the day belonged to members of the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council and the United Jewish Organizations, which have been planning the redevelopment since 2005, when the organizations applied for a Brownfield Opportunity Area grant to redevelop lots on the site.
Supporters of the plan lined the steps of City Hall at noon, rallied by Councilmember-elect Steve Levin (D-Williamsburg) and former Council candidate Maritza Davila to shouts of “Yes We Will!” to urge the City Council to pass the rezoning action as Community Board 1, Borough President Markowitz, and the City Planning Commission all did earlier this year.
“Do not disturb the process,” said Davila, directing the crowd to the balcony inside. “Remember we are civilized and we come in peace.”
For once, Marty Needelman, an attorney representing the BTCC, agreed.
“We are committed to non-violence as long as humanly possible,” said Needelman.
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