Final public hearing on SoHo/NoHo rezoning plan features more division over controversial plan

A whole lot listened to and spoke out throughout a seven-hour digital hearing that the Metropolis Council’s Land Use Committee held Tuesday concerning the SoHo/NoHo rezoning plan, the final in a sequence of public hearings in regards to the controversial proposal to allow better constructing within the historic neighborhoods.

The Nov. 9 hearing occurred lower than a month after the Metropolis Planning Fee (CPC) gave its unanimous approval of the plan, which might “upzone” a lot of the communities and allow the development of three,500 new properties, about 900 of which might be designated as inexpensive housing.

CPC Chair Anita Laremont, who testified at Tuesday’s hearing, confused that the rezoning plan would lastly unleash a long-stalled wave of recent improvement locally handle financial and housing wants.

“Current zoning does not allow new housing without special permission, has no affordability requirements for residential development, and severely restricts the use of ground floors to industrial uses,” she testified. “As such, this restrictive regime has resulted in extremely limited housing options that exclude moderate- and low-income New Yorkers, increases pressure on surrounding neighborhoods and less protected areas, contributes to storefront vacancies, and disproportionately burdens smaller business owners, who often lack the resources and capacity to navigate land use and environmental review processes, leaving them therefore at a disadvantage.”

However neighborhood activists, together with Village Preservation, have argued that the SoHo/NoHo rezoning would do the other of its intent — luring more improvement whereas concurrently making the world much less inexpensive to New Yorkers. The Historic Districts Council additional charged that the proposal would probably “be profoundly damaging to the designated landmark properties of the historic districts it encompasses and to the practice of historic preservation throughout New York City.”

“Protecting historic buildings does rely upon having the underlying zoning match up with the existing buildings,” the HDC indicated in its testimony. “If the City increases the underlying zoning of these buildings – encouraging much more bulk than they currently have – it puts an enormous strain on the Landmarks Commission to keep the landmark building intact. If City Planning says a 15 story building can be built where a 7 story building currently stands, how can the Landmarks Commission say “no”? This baked-in battle strains the system and is unfair to each property house owners and the companies.”

Native lawmakers additionally had a combined response to the proposal. The Commercial Observer reported that Assemblywoman Deborah Glick testified the plan served as “an audacious giveaway to luxury development, guaranteeing a less diverse and more wealthy enclave,” whereas state Senator Brad Hoylman lamented that the CPC didn’t beforehand alter the proposal to satisfy the objections of residents and create a more agreeable situation.

However Sheena Kang, senior coverage analyst at Residents Housing & Planning Council, argued that the opposition to the SoHo/NoHo plan ranged from “mildly misinformed” to “downright racist.”

“I have watched opponents try to redefine SoHo/NoHo as a low-income community of color by manipulating data and appropriating the demographics of immigrant communities living nearby. This last ploy is not only deeply offensive, but it also undermines the very real concerns of communities in New York City that have dealt with the impacts of disinvestment and structural racism for decades,” Kang mentioned. “SoHo/NoHo is indeed a special place. But no neighborhood is so special that preserving it in amber is worth depriving thousands of families of access to housing.”

A full Metropolis Council vote on the matter is anticipated earlier than the tip of 2021.

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