Board Seven Questions City’s ‘Green’ Zoning Changes

By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Eagle

SUNSET PARK — The Department of City Planning’s proposal to change zoning laws to make buildings more environmentally friendly received a generally positive review from Community Board Seven.

But board members expressed concern over at least one part of the multi-layered proposal.

The Dept. of City Planning is seeking to change the restrictions regarding bulkhead, the water towers and other large structures on the roofs of buildings. Under the agency’s proposal, a 55-foot-high wind turbine could be erected on the roof of any building over 100 feet tall.

In Sunset Park, a community that recently underwent a complete overhaul of its zoning regulations to restrict the height of buildings, the idea of buildings being made even taller by large wind turbines is unappealing, board members said.

The City Council approved the Sunset Park rezoning plan in 2009. The goal of the rezoning, according to Board Seven members, was to prevent the construction of high-rise buildings that would dominate the skyline and crowd out smaller buildings in the community. The board was also seeking to protect the community’s housing stock, composed largely of charming row houses constructed in the late 19th Century, board members said.

John Burns, chairman of Board’s Seven Zoning and Land Use Committee, said the prospect of gigantic wind turbines on roofs is troubling.

“We don’t need somebody coming down with 100-foot windmills, so that if you’re in Sunset Park you can’t see,” Burns said.

The hill in Sunset Park, the park for which the community is named, offers a view of New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty.

“We have a very different type of typography than other communities,” Burns said.

Board Seven has asked the Dept. of City Planning to have the community be exempted from the proposed regulation.

“We should respect what we wished for and asked for,” board member Randolph Peers said, referring to the Sunset Park rezoning effort, which was led by Board Seven.

The Dept. of City Planning proposals also include loosening restrictions on height restrictions to allow for the installation of solar panels, rooftop gardens and awnings to reduce energy costs for building owners. The proposals are being presented together under the title “Green Zone.”

The proposed changes are part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s PlaNYC program, a long-term project to make New York a more environmentally-friendly city, with more trees, cleaner air and more energy-efficient buildings.

The Dept. of City Planning is seeking feedback from all of the city’s 59 community boards. The City Council will hold a hearing on the “Green Zone” and then vote on whether the changes should be made. A date for the hearing has not been set.