There are two Stephens running for City Council in our district, Steve Levin and Stephen Pierson. Though we’re still torn about which one to support, we fully endorse the latter Steve’s position on the Greenpoint Landing. From DNA:
Stephen Pierson — who is trying to oust incumbent Stephen Levin for the 33rd District council seat — told DNAinfo New York he will demand that a court review the city’s zoning decision in an attempt to prevent the developments of Greenpoint Landing and 77 Commercial St. from rising more than 15 to 20 stories.
“The neighborhood can’t support this many residents,” said Pierson of the proposed towers. “The neighborhood already has a dearth of transportation options…And there hasn’t been an environmental impact study done in years. Simply from a community perspective these towers are way out of context for the neighborhood.”
Pierson said he would sue to lower the allowed height of the towers — potentially allowed to rise as high as 400 feet due to the 2005 rezoning of North Brooklyn’s waterfront from industrial to mixed use — by filing for relief under Article 78, in which government decisions can be reviewed by a court.
Pierson said he would also attempt to scale back the towers’ heights with a rezoning starting at the City Council and community board level to change the 2005 heights. He noted that the city scaled back allowed heights on Williamsburg’s Grand Street in 2008, after officials found “developers…showed ‘disrespect’ to the neighborhood by constructing out-of-context buildings.”
The Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve the Department of City Planning’s proposal to rezone 13 blocks along Grand Street and adjoining areas in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. The area overlaps with the southern boundary of the extensive Greenpoint-Williamsburg rezoning, which the City adopted in 2005. 2 CityLand 67 (June 15, 2005).
If you’re not familiar with Pierson, here’s some background from the Times. (They were just dying to call him the hipster candidate, but resisted the urge.)
Mr. Pierson, though, looks like modern Brooklyn, embodying the narrative of it in a way that politicians thus far have not. When I met him for breakfast last week he was wearing low-slung skinny jeans, untied desert boots and a snug wool coat and carried with him another accessory of the moment — his 2-year-old daughter’s lunch. To support himself several years ago while he was writing a novel, he started to play poker and turned out to have a talent for it. “I realized I was making a substantial amount of money,” he told me.
With those earnings he began an art and literary magazine called Canteen, which is lushly produced (in one issue, a tattooed young contributor, Michelle Tea, is described as the author of four memoirs). In conjunction with the publication, Mr. Pierson developed Canteen Arts, an after-school arts and education program for teenagers in Harlem that shepherds artists and writers uptown to teach.
The much more seasoned incumbent Steve Levin, is dubious that a lawsuit is feasible, but vows to fight too: “I’m exploring now every option we have legally…but I don’t want to make a promise I can’t keep,” Levin said.
Here’s more information about the 2005 rezoning in South Williamsburg:
Currently, the rezoning area is characterized by low-rise, mixed-use three- and four-story attached apartment buildings and rowhouses. Most of these buildings have ground-floor commercial uses— ranging from restaurants and boutiques to bicycle repair shops and printing offices—on the lower floors, and a substantial residential presence on the upper floors. City Planning drafted the proposal after Brooklyn Community Board 1 expressed concern that, under the current R6 zoning, developers could build out-of-character towers two-and four-times the height of existing buildings in the area.
Commission Chair Amanda Burden stated that upon approving the 2005 rezoning, the Commission “had no idea there would be such an assault on the area by developers,” who showed “disrespect” to the neighborhood by constructing out-of-context buildings.
Whichever Steve wins, we’re staying hopeful that City Council will voice the desires of the community to limit the scope of the developments on North Brooklyn’s waterfront.