Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Cobble Hill Community and its Representatives Reject Fortis Redevelopment Plans for LICH site

City Councilman Brad Lander, New York Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon, New York State Senator Daniel Squadron, and New York Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez announced at the Cobble Hill Association's fall community meeting that they would not support the current proposed rezoning (ULURP) plans for the former Long Island College Hospital site. "The community does not support this ULURP proposal— and neither do I," Councilman Lander told his constituents, who filled the auditorium of P.S. 29 and also spoke passionately against the Fortis plans, which feature luxury high-rise towers of at least 35 stories.  Cobble Hill Association President Laurel Burr and First Vice President Buzz Doherty also reported that, after holding nearly 20 block meetings to discuss the Fortis proposals, there was a clear consensus within the community that the redevelopment plans were unacceptable and needed to be significantly downscaled to win neighborhood approval. The CHA would like to thank our representatives for their work on behalf of Cobble Hill and our President Laurel Burr for her tireless efforts to mobilize community action on this vital issue. Please follow us on Facebook for the latest developments. 


Ross said...

At the moment, Fortis has put two proposals on the table: the As of Right (AOR) plan and the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) Plan.

At the meeting on Wednesday, it was clear that the Cobble Hill Association is strongly opposed to the ULURP plan, and that this represents a 'strong consensus' of block meetings, and a majority of those polled by Brad Lander. Brad Lander indicated at the meeting that he will represent the residents' position on Council, and that this would probably be supported by a majority of his colleagues.

Lander made it clear at the meeting that if Fortis chooses to proceed with the AOR plan, there is very little that can be done to stop it.

If that is right, then it seems highly likely we will be left with the AOR plan. This would be disastrous (in my view, more disastrous than ULURP, but this is a matter of judgment). The way forward must be to develop an alternative plan.

Something like this was suggested early in the meeting -- I think by Jo Ann Simons, and there were one or two supporting comments made from the floor. But as far as I could tell, there were no follow up plans made to call for suggestions, utilize the architectural & town planning talent that exists in the neighborhood, to workshop proposals with residents.

It may be that this is already under way. If so, I would like to hear about it.

Whatever proposal were put forward would have to take account not of merely residents' desires, but also of what might attract political support from outside the neighborhood. Fortis has done a good public relations job in this respect, and it is not enough simply to attack their plans. Affordable housing, schools, and student accommodation, are all public goods, and is would be mean spirited (and politically counter-productive) not to consider these. It is also important (short of revolution) to provide a plan that allows Fortis a reasonable return on the deal.

One more comment. I have the 'No Towers' poster with me, and I will dutifully put it up on my window. But it does not seem very appropriate. If the above sketch of the current situation is right, t towers are inevitable. What we should be working towards are towers of a reasonable height built at some distance from the historic district.

Ross Poole
129 Pacific Street, Brooklyn.

Anonymous said...

Bravo, Ross. Just what was proposed by the now deposed Cobble Hill Association leadership. There will be development (and anyone denying that ought not be part of any conversation) and the As of Right plan is simply unacceptable for many reasons, some of which you have mentioned. The biggest issue is that AOR is non-negotiable. The former CHA leadership engaged in Councilman Lander's process so that a better, more reasonable ULURP could be negotiated. But the new leadership just says "no" which is so foolish as not to be believed. Once the current ULURP proposal gets certified (likely any day now) that window of negotiation is closed. The EIS that will then commence is not the place where major changes can be made. The CHA usurpers are ill-informed, ill-willed and ill-equipped to make the changes to ULURP needed. That said, glad to hear your voice of reason - but it may just be too late.

PS There is a letter that has been floating around written by Roy Sloan, longtime community leader, that outlines ULURP points of negotiation - that there are "too many community benefits" for this one super-block site - and recommends tools to use in negotiating the ULURP package. Sadly, the current leadership of Dougherty and Burr suppressed discussion of that letter. Too bad as Sloan has experience in land use and could really have helped protect the community. I think he lives on your block. You should ask him about it.

Anonymous said...

Agree with prior commenters. This is the time to negotiate before it is all too late. Has too much time passed? The towers can and should be moved away from the historic homes. AOR doesn't do that and to pump up the AOR is a fool's mission.