The New York City Department of City Planning has announced a rezoning proposal that hopes to maintain the character of sections of the north Bronx.
Responding to concern of local residents, approximately 181 blocks in the Williamsbridge and Baychester neighborhoods are currently being considered for a rezone to protect lower density streets from developmental pressure.
The proposed rezoning, which was announced by the Department of City Planning on Monday, June 20, is intended to reduce the addition of large commercial businesses on residential side streets and channel moderate new growth opportunities to larger corridors, such as the shopping strips along White Plains and East Gun Hill roads with better access to mass transit.
“City Planning worked closely with the community board and the East 222nd Street Civic Association to develop a rezoning proposal,” said City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden. “In keeping with our commitment to transit-oriented growth, this rezoning would direct development away from residential side streets with small homes, to blocks than can accommodate new commercial and housing opportunities.”
The rezoning area is within the boundaries of the Bronx River Parkway between East Gun Hill Road and East 233rd Street, and Shoelace Park between East 211th and East 233rd streets. Currently, zoning districts R6, R5, and R4 cover the area, and allow for new developments with higher densities than their neighbors, often resulting in out-of-character buildings.
In addition, the depth of some commercial overlays has allowed commercial enterprises to open on residential streets. The residential streets of the communities, for the most part, contain low-level buildings and many one- to two-family private homes.
According to Fr. Gorman, district manager of Community Board 12, board members and local residents have been discussing a rezone for the neighborhoods for about two years now, making it a high priority.
“We are all extremely excited about the proposed rezoning. We have low-density communities, and we would like to keep that character alive here,” Gorman said. “We began to see some out-of-context buildings on residential streets and the majority of the local residents agreed that something had to be done. The proposal alone for the rezone is a tremendous victory.”
The proposal has three goals: to preserve the neighborhood character, to establish appropriate growth opportunities, and to update and expand on new commercial overlays. The CB 12 review began on Monday, June 20 and the board has 60 days to review the proposal.
Following the board review, the proposal will go through the borough president, City Planning, and finally the City Council. Fr. Gorman believes the proposal will pass.
“I have a feeling we will be extremely successful when it’s all complete,” Gorman said. “As far as I know, everybody is in favor of the plans and I don’t see any reason why it would not be approved.”