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Classrooms dismissed: School leaders rescind rezoning application for Hill learning house

Not happening: Charter-school officials last week pulled their application to re-zone this Clinton Hill lot to allow them to construct a seven-story school because of issues with the project's timing.
Brooklyn Paper
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This school’s out forever!

Bigwigs at a charter school seeking permission to build a controversial 100-foot high school on a Clinton Hill lot zoned for shorter structures pulled their rezoning application last week because of issues with the project’s schedule, according to an attorney for the learning house.

“It’s timing concerns expressed by the school, the timing didn’t work with the anticipated opening,” said Ron Mandel, a lawyer with the Manhattan-based law firm Davidoff Hutcher and Citron, who would not comment on honchos’ specific concerns or when they planned to open the new facility.

Officials from Unity Preparatory Charter School, who already run a middle school in Bedford-Stuyvesant and a high school in Brownsville, wanted to erect a third 400-seat learning house on a parking lot at 32 Lexington Ave. between Grand and Classon avenues that is owned by housing-advocacy group Impacct Brooklyn.

But doing so required the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals to first green-light a re-zoning application to allow for construction of the proposed seven-story school with a footprint that inched closer to the sidewalk, because current regulations only permit buildings no higher than five stories that are set back from the street.

Community Board 2’s Land Use Committee voted to approve the zoning changes last February, but the full board and locals living at 15 Quincy St. — a building with below-market-rate units where some residents’ windows overlook the lot reserved for the school — railed against the request months later, charging that the towering learning house would box its neighbors in, block light and air from streaming into their apartments, and increase traffic in the already congested nabe because it would rise near a dead-end street.

The full board ultimately panned the project last May after two public hearings and one deadlocked vote.

And neighbors are relieved they no longer have to fight the building and the quality-of-life changes they claimed would come with it, but hope the pupils destined for its classrooms will find new desks elsewhere soon, according to a 15 Quincy resident.

“I’m certainly not happy that the children who go to that school have no immediate future to look forward to in terms of moving into another building,” said Charles B., a member of the building’s tenants association. “But there were some other issue like the traffic, the service vehicles that would need to come into the community, and a bunch more.”

Unity Preparatory Charter School officials did not respond to requests for comment, and Mandel would not comment on whether his client plans to file another application to build elsewhere.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 5:48 pm, July 9, 2018
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