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CB 10 supports downzone effort

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In a unanimous vote, Community Board 10 voted in favor of Councilman Jimmy Vacca’s proposal to re-consider the zoning of certain streets in Pelham Bay that are currently zoned R-6 and R-7 for high density development, in hopes of bringing about less dense housing.

CB 10 voted on Thursday, November 20 at the recommendation of the Housing and Zoning Committee to have the City Planning Commission look at making portions of Bruckner Boulevard, E. 196th Street, Buhre Avenue, Crosby Avenue, Middletown Road, Roberts Avenue, Westchester Avenue, and Wilkinson Avenue from R-6 and R-7 to R-4, R-5, and R-5D.

CB 10 has communicated its wishes in writing, hopefully touching off a study by CPC as to the feasibility of the proposal. The areas targeted by the plan have some apartment buildings built alongside one- and two-family private homes, and there are concerns that if high-rises replace the smaller structures it might change the character of the neighborhood drastically.

“We think that some streets in Pelham Bay are zoned for far too high density,” Vacca said. “Certain parts of Pelham Bay were left out of the downzoning a few years ago, keeping the high-density zoning intact. Developers are looking at existing parcels to build apartment houses.”

Vacca said that while commercial corridors in Pelham Bay have apartment houses, as do some solely residential streets, different circumstances in the 21st Century mandate a lower-density approach to zoning.

“Those apartment houses were built from the 1940s through the 1960s when no one, or very few people, had cars,” Vacca said. “Allowing large apartment buildings to be built today has a completely different impact.”

While the proposal had the unanimous support of the full board present at the November 20th meeting in Co-op City, some believe that building garden style apartments on Pelham Bay’s main commercial arteries would allow the neighborhood and the larger city to grow at a sustainable rate. CB 10 feels the matter warrants further study.

“We are working with the councilmember regarding his concerns about appropriate zoning,” said Department of City Planning spokeswoman Rachaele Raynoff. “It is also worth noting that all of Community Board 10 has been studied carefully as part of the City’s re-zonings that protected a large proportion of the residential lots in these neighborhoods from out-of-character development.”

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