Greenpoint Gazette

Contextual Rezoning in Full Effect

BY Juliet Linderman

In a gritty city like Brooklyn, neighborhood character is particularly important and on Thursday the City Council wasted no time voting in favor of adopting the Greenpoint/Williamsburg contextual rezoning, which is now in full effect. A plan that has been in the works for several years, the contextual rezoning will enforce a height cap of six stories on all new buildings erected in the qualifying 175-block area stretching from Clay Street in the north to Scholes and Maujer Streets in the south; the area rezoned by the 2005 Greenpoint-Williamsburg Waterfront Rezoning in the west to the manufacturing areas in Greenpoint and Williamsburg in the east.
Contextual zoning districts regulate the height and bulk of all new buildings, their setback from the street line and their width along the street frontage to produce buildings that are consistent with existing neighborhood character.
“I am very pleased that the City Council passed this contextual rezoning and I believe that it will go a long way towards preserving the neighborhood character of Williamsburg and Greenpoint,” said Councilmember David Yassky, a longtime advocate of contextual rezoning.
However, with the approval of contextual rezoning looming, in the past few months several neighborhood property owners began expediting their projects, laying the foundation for high-rises as quickly as possible in order to skirt the height ordinance. Property owners that did not manage to lay 100 per cent of their foundation before the new rezoning was adopted must now apply for a height/bulk variance from the Department of Buildings, at which point they will either be granted permission to proceed with their original plans, or required to submit new ones in compliance with the limitations of the zoning if they wish to continue renovations.

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