Did a Bushwick Community Board Illegally Approve a Rezoning for a Lucrative Development Site?


On Monday, Community Board 4 in Bushwick convened to approve zoning changes that would speed up the development of the Rheingold Brewery site. The site would bring high-rise apartments and new retail locations to the center of Bushwick, a move many neighborhood residents vehemently oppose as gentrification. Too bad CB4 closed the rezoning vote to the public, otherwise those residents might have had more of a say.

The development is no small remodeling project. All told, the project will include 10 buildings and 1,000 residential units, as well as retail shopping space. Throughout the approval process, concerns have been raised that not only does the project not include enough affordable housing, but it may bloat housing prices in the neighboring areas on Flushing Avenue.

New York state law requires that meetings in which votes take place be open to the public. NYS Committee on Open Government Executive Director Robert Freeman tells Bushwick Daily that “every meeting of Community Board has to be public, regardless if it’s a vote or further deliberations.”

The state’s Open Meeting laws are unambiguous on this point, stating that the public must be “able to observe the performance of public officials and attend and listen to the deliberations and decisions that go into the making of public policy.”

And yet, if the public does succeed in suing to invalidate CB4’s ruling, New York City can ignore them. Why? Because community boards are advisory bodies only and cannot set policy on their own.

How sweet it must be to be a developer in New York.

(h/t: Bushwick Daily)