By Marco Poggio, Reuven Blau
Stop this evil Empire!
So say the residents seeking to quash a plan to rezone a 1-mile stretch of Empire Blvd.
Their opposition reached a crescendo Tuesday as hundreds turned out to rip the so-called “upzoning” plan for part of the boulevard between Flatbush and Rogers Aves., which was submitted to the City Planning Commission.
“We are trying to save our homes,” said Alicia Boyd, founder of Movement to Protect the People, a group fighting to keep out the tall residential towers that the city seeks to permit along the corridor — currently home to warehouses — which borders Crown Heights and Prospect Lefferts-Gardens.
Members of the Movement to Protect the People welcomed the vote by Community Board 9 to scratch the resolution put forward by Pearl Miles, whom the residents claim acted without community input. The vote tally was: 16 in favor of abrogating the resolution, nine against it and eight abstentions.
“You don’t sit quietly inside a room when they are about to put a 25-story building in your backyard,” Boyd fumed after the meeting. “. . . and when they’re about to put up skyscrapers for the rich and push out the poor.”
The stated reason for the zoning changes is to increase affordable housing. The de Blasio administration has said that developers could build higher, and increase their density allowances, if they’ll agree to make more of those units affordable.
Residents fear the arrival of more development since nearly a dozen new luxury towers are already going up in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens.
De Blasio has not taken a stance on the plan, but Borough President Eric Adams has said he supports it.
Boyd and her group want to stop the city from pursuing the rezoning, saying the study will cost taxpayers thousands and take up to two years to complete.
They delivered piles of petitions and letters requesting a sitdown with Mayor de Blasio to discuss the best way to preserve affordable housing in the community. A rep from the mayor’s office, who attended Tuesday’s meeting, declined to comment.
The residents argue the rezoning plan would allow builders to put up towers in which majority of units will be market rate, and they worry that even the so-called “affordable” apartments will be too expensive.
Pearl Miles, the district manager of Community Board 9, sent a resolution to the City Planning Commission in March supporting the planned review.
The board voted to rescind that resolution, solicit community input and draft a new one.
A representative from Adams’ office told residents that the borough president agreed the resolution was “not properly passed” and promised to hold community meetings.