CB7, City Planning discuss downzoning Mosholu

Anthony Riveccio (left), president of the Northwest Bronx Democrats, talks with Shawn Brede of City Planning (c) about the possiblity of downzoning Mosholu Parkway.
Photo Courtesy of Robert Christie

Residents supporting the downzoning of Mosholu Parkway got the chance to present their arguments to the NYC Department of City Planning.

Shawn Brede, the deputy director of the City Planning office for the Bronx, listened on Wednesday, February 15 to resident’s concerns of having too many tall buildings along Mosholu Parkway.

Supporters of downzoning Mosholu Parkway have been campaigning for City Planning to downzone Mosholu to an R-5 zone, which allows buildings as tall as six stores.

Anthony Riveccio, president of the Northwest Bronx Democrats, has contended that if city planning would look at Mosholu as an east to west corridor, they could zone the entire parkway as one zone.

As currently constituted, Mosholu is viewed as a north to south corridor and is split between an R-7 and R-8 zone, which permit greater density.

“When looking at Mosholu Parkway from Webster Avenue to Jerome Avenue,” said Brede, “I look at it as a north/south corridor.”

He added that the reason Mosholu has two different zones dates back to a 1961 zoning plan that encouraged dense housing on the Grand Concourse.

Brede said during that time, as the concourse grew, the zoning moved up to an R-8 to accommodate the growing population.

Residents at the meeting said they were worried about developer’s coming into the neighborhood and putting up taller buildings that would affect the area’s character.

Both Adaline Walker-Santiago, chair of CB 7, and Councilmember Andy Cohen contended that Mosholu should have a nice mix of tall and short buildings along the parkway.

Cohen said that having slightly taller buildings on the corner of blocks that are filled with smaller houses adds to the character of the neighborhood and creates a sort of ‘hodge-podge’ of buildings.

Cohen however cautioned that developers are replacing smaller homes with larger structures.

“The contextual zoning in this area would be a mix and we don’t have that and we would like city planning to help us come up with a way to preserve that mix,” he added.

Walker-Santiago echoed Cohen’s sentiments, comparing Mosholu Parkway to children’s building blocks.

She said, “If you have blocks as a little child and you’re playing in your room, do you want every building to look the same? No!”

“You put a red building, a white building, a brown building and their different sizes,” she added. “That’s what makes it fun.”

She added that when she walks outside her house now, the sun is blocked by a building across the street.

Walker-Santiago also said the community members may be willing to compromise with city planning by supporting an upzoning in one area along Mosholu Parkway to get a downzoning in another area.

Currently, CB 7 is conducting a study to see if they can downzone only the Bedford Park and Kingsbridge Heights neighborhoods.

In past discussions between CB 7 and residents, CB 7 members have said they would focus on the Bedford Park/Kingsbridge Heights study first before moving on to the entire parkway.

Brede said the best way to go about the rezoning may be to compromise as both Cohen and Walker-Santiago suggested.

Joe Marvilli, a spokesman for the Department of City Planning, said, “We are open and willing to have further conversations with the board to further understand their request and to address planning concerns for the area”.

Reach Reporter Robert Christie at (718) 260-4591. E-mail him at rchristie@cnglocal.com.

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