CB7 seeks input on curbing large-scale buildings

Community Board 7 will be reaching out to residents in Kingsbridge Heights and Bedford Park in the coming weeks and asking them to weigh in on plans to rezone those areas to restrict larger-scale development projects.

Residents are concerned that new development under the current R8 high-density zoning in Bedford Park and R6 and R8 zoning in Kingsbridge Heights may lead to the replacement of low-scale housing with taller structures.

“We want to try to keep the character of the neighborhood,” said Bedford Mosholu Community Association president Barbara Stronczer. “It is a mixture of rental apartments, co-ops and private homes. We are very quickly losing the private homes to the developers.”

Stronczer said the area started changing approximately a decade ago, most notably with the rezoning of Webster Avenue in 2009 that was followed by changes in other areas.

“Due to the fact that other areas became too expensive we’ve seen small lots occupied by a 1- or 2-family house being taken over by developers and we are losing a lot of parking lots,” she said. “The feeling is we have to stop what’s happening or at least keep it under control.”

The CB 7 Land Use, Zoning and Housing Committee reached out to Collective for Community Culture and Environment to conduct a study of the development and land use patterns in the areas of Bedford Park and Kingsbridge heights, specifically the Kingsbridge Road commercial district and the residential area just south of the former Kingsbridge Armory.

The study, which was released Wednesday, June 21 recommended changing the zoning in portions of both areas to curb overdevelopment, with residential areas south of Kingsbridge Road rezoned from R6 to R5D and West Kingsbridge Road between University Heights and Jerome Avenue near the Armory from R6/C1-3 to C4-4A. The area of East Kingsbridge Road between Jerome and Creston avenues would be downzoned from R8/C1-3 and R8/C2-3 to C4-2F.

The study recommended getting community feedback from the Kingsbridge Heights area before the full board takes any further action, said CB 7 chairwoman Adaline Walker-Santiago.

“It’s been sent out to all our board members and our constituents, stakeholders and elected officials to review it, because it’s going to take a while for them to go through it,” she said. “This is a community advisory board – we want their feedback, because they asked for us to do this and the board approved the study.”

Feedback is due by September, when it will be reviewed by the full board, she said.

Once the board decides on its recommendations, the proposal will then go to the NYC Planning Commission for its review and approval.

Residents interviewed for a 2016 Visioning said they wanted to preserve their community’s character, and wanted to maintain the mix of lower and higher-scale housing in the area, and feared an influx of higher-density apartment buildings and possible gentrification.

Those interviewed also said they wanted to see a wider range of stores and services in commercial areas, more parking facilities and green spaces for people to gather and more cultural programs and services for youth and seniors.

Reach Reporter Arthur Cusano at (718) 742–4584. E-mail him at acusano@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @arthurcusano.

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