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Photo by Tom Momberg
Borough President Melinda Katz (c.) recommends the city decline two zoning text amendments intended to create more senior and affordable housing as they are currently proposed.
By Tom Momberg

As the Department of City Planning’s two zoning text amendments come up for City Council review in the coming months, Borough President Melinda Katz has announced her recommendation to disapprove them, independently but in consideration of the borough board’s overwhelming 12-2 vote against each of the proposals last month.

The amendments, Zoning for Quality and Affordability, as well as Mandatory Inclusionary Housing, are intended to encourage developers to produce more senior housing and affordable housing by altering some guidelines in various residential zoning classifications.

“This is not about whether one is for or against affordable housing,” Katz noted in her recommendation. “Everyone shares the goals and recognizes the need to aggressively expand affordable housing stock to meet the ever-growing demand. When we do, however, it must be done right. The breadth of neighborhoods in a city like New York requires far more nuanced and strategically planned rezonings instead of a wholesale ‘one size fits all’ approach.”

Katz’s evaluation of the proposed amendments has concluded the first phase of the six-month public review process that will now move through the City Planning Commission before the third and final phase of City Council review, and ultimately a vote.

In her recommendation, Katz said changing height restrictions in low-density neighborhoods to accommodate elevators in senior housing, potential impacts to contextual rezoning that has taken place in various Queens neighborhoods for the last decade, as well as lowering parking requirements were her greatest concerns.

The Bronx Borough Board voted unanimously against the two proposals, with one abstention, in mid November. The Manhattan Borough Board voted 12-0 against both proposals Monday, with four abstentions. The Brooklyn Borough Board voted 20-2 against each proposal Tuesday night with two abstentions. Seven of Brooklyn’s 16 Council members were there to cast votes against the amendments.

Queens Council members voluntarily abstained from voting on the Borough Board last month, because they will have to vote with the full Council early next year.

Reach reporter Tom Momberg by e-mail at tmomberg@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

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