MBCG Meeting on Wednesday, April 22, 2015


 Dear Members and Friends,

Community members and others continue voicing concerns relating to the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.  What about flood insurance—is it going up and if so, how much and when?  How is government proposing to keep water out of our community in the event of another storm?   What happened to all the federal money given to the City for Build it Back that didn’t come to homeowners in need of help in rebuilding?  However, most of the questions we are hearing now concern Zoning! 

Since there are multiple “players” involved in giving citizens answers and in order to keep you informed, I want to make you aware of several recent items that have crossed my desk.

The first is a new proposal, recently unveiled to citizen groups regarding Zoning that comes from the Mayor and the Department of City Planning. It concerns the Administration’s views of affordable and senior housing, it is a multi-year plan and it has City-wide implications, we are told.  There is “talk” that the implementation of this plan concerns  “neighborhoods” and changing zoning; however, there are no specifics at this moment.  For your information there will be a meeting on Thursday, April 16 at 7:30 PM sponsored by the Madison-Marine-Homecrest Civic Association to be held at the Carmine Caro Community Center in Marine Park (at Filmore and Marine Parkway).   A presentation by urban planning specialist and former president of the Historic Districts Council, Paul Graziano, will be the speaker. 

The second Zoning item that reached my desk comes from the City Planning Commission and the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development.  They have circulated a draft of Zoning Text Changes:  “Special Regulations for Neighborhood Recovery” as the City’s response to the devastation of Hurricane Sandy for one and two family homes.  This proposal expects to modify “zoning and construction codes to facilitate a speedy recovery as well as long-term resiliency.”  The proposal discusses the Build it Back program and most of all, the citywide flood resilience text amendment for existing buildings and for new construction. 
While this draft discusses targeted areas–where there may be limited applicability–it OMITS Manhattan Beach as a “targeted area”!  It does; however, include Sheepshead Bay and Gerritsen Beach along with Sea Gate and Brighton Beach. There IS NO DISCUSSION ABOUT MANHATTAN BEACH—no mention of the variety of homes in our community, the best measures for insuring that we stay SAFE and RESILIENT for a possible next “event”!  There is no discussion about HOW, IF and WHEN homes in Manhattan Beach will be increased in height (happening now) nor how water is to be kept out of cellar/basement levels if people want to renovate an existing building.  There is no discussion of Special Permits (allowable in Community Board15/Manhattan Beach) that allow for an applicant to renovate and make larger a pre-existing building and no discussion about how all of this will change the character of this neighborhood!

We just received notice that there will be a presentation by the City Planning Commission, regarding the above noted draft plan, on Tuesday, April 14 at 6 P.M. at Brooklyn Borough Hall, 209 Joralemon Street with a PUBLIC HEARING to follow.   However, in addition to this presentation, we are informed that Community Board 15 will hold a similar event on April 20th.  I will send details of this meeting as they become available.

When meetings occur regarding zoning and new construction and/or the City’s new philosophy about neighborhoods, it seems that we should all make every effort to arm ourselves with the best available information.  When our community is omitted from a plan, we should learn why.  If there are new regulations that affect us, we should know what they are.  Further, this is OUR city–OUR neighborhood and who else knows it better than we do and we should not let an opportunity to be a part of the process go by without participating!!!

The leadership of the Manhattan Beach Community Group wants to know how you feel, what you want, what protections should we be given considering the fact that the same waters that devastated other parts of Community Board 15 also devastated us!  Sometimes I get the feeling that we have been treated as the “orphans” of Sandy:  just what IS government planning to help our community?  Perhaps there is a reason for the omissions…as of this time, I don’t know what it is. 

I ask that you inform yourselves and the Manhattan Beach Community Group of your feelings regarding the matters that will be coming up in the VERY near future.  It doesn’t take a great deal of time for government to hold Hearings—make decisions— and then Act!  Without your participation we could end up with some things we don’t want!!!

In continuing to give you as much information as possible and for you to participate in those areas that concern you:
***the next meeting of the Manhattan Beach Community Group will take place on April 22nd with our guest speaker, the Comptroller of the City of New York, the Hon. Scott Stringer.  He has asked to come to southern Brooklyn to discuss the debacle and his audit of Build it Back; what he can do for us and what audits/projects his office might be working on to aid the taxpayers of our City. Watch for a detailed flyer.

***on May 22nd we expect to partner with Congressman Hakeem Jeffries at a Town Hall Meeting in Manhattan Beach…details to follow.

I welcome your comments and suggestions and I urge you to attend the meetings listed.  This is the time for everyone to come to these meetings, to learn and to speak up!!!


Judy Baron