Next week on August 13, the City Planning Commission will host a marathon public hearing on three different large scale projects: the Lower East Side rezoning, Hunter’s Point South and the Willets Point Redevelopment Plan. Already the meeting is drawing attention from Borough President Scott Stringer and activists who say that the three-part meeting gives too little attention to the details of each plan.
The agenda for the meeting estimates that testimony for the East Village rezoning plan will take 3 hours, from 9am to 12pm, but the commission says that they will not limit commentary or cut off debate. Previous scoping meetings allocated about 6 hours to the East Village plan alone, setting the stage for a run-on meeting next Wednesday.
Earlier this week the Borough President sent a letter to City Planning Commission Chair Amanda Burden, asking her to reschedule the East Village Rezoning hearing for a later date. In the letter Stringer said that “the Commission risks limiting the amount and quality of public participation for one, or even all three items by forcing community members to wait for overly long periods of time before being heard.”
In a post to the blog Save the Lower East Side, Rob Hollander of the group Lower East Side Residents for Responsible Development also raised concerns that the meeting would allow too little time for the East Village plan, and exclude working members of the public who would have to take off work to attend.
The Lower East Side/East Village rezoning and Willet’s Point redevelopment have triggered public debate as of late. Just this week the Voice published an article on potential conflict of interest concerns with Community Board 3 member Michael Rosen, and a group called Coalition to Save Chinatown and the Lower East Side has waged a public campaign against what it calls a racist rezoning, most recently presenting a thousands-strong petition to Borough President Stringer, asking him to reject the plan approved by the Community Board. Just yesterday, a assembly of fair housing advocates in the Lower East Side and East Village held a press conference in support of the rezoning as currently proposed, directly disputing the claims of the Coalition.
The City’s Willet’s Point plan also has created controversy among the groups impacted by the redevelopment. As with the East Village hearings, previous public meetings on the redevelopment stretched into the wee hours of the morning—a Queens Community Board 7 meeting to approve the plan went until 1 am.
After more than 20 City Council Members came out in opposition to the redevelopment, the City went ahead with relocation agreements, striking the first deal in June. Just this week, that deal fell through, casting further doubt on the redevelopment prospects.