Our Community-Generated Rezoning Proposal is Now Law—But the Fight Isn’t Over Yet!
Three years ago, our neighborhood had a rude awakening: A developer planned to construct a 1,000-foot tall tower on East 58th Street. How could that happen? We discovered that the East River Fifties (the area between 51st and 59th Streets, east of First Avenue) was the only residential community in New York City where mid-blocks and quiet residential streets had absolutely no building height limits due to a 1960s-era zoning law.
We knew what we had to do. The East River 50s Alliance (ERFA) sprang into action and submitted a rezoning plan to the NYC Department of City Planning (“DCP”) to stop out-of-scale development, while including affordable housing provisions that would ensure that the area remained livable for more New Yorkers. With the support of numerous elected officials, civic organizations, and individuals residing both within and outside of our neighborhood, we worked with DCP for more than two years to bring rezoning to fruition.
On November 30, 2017, our rezoning proposal was enacted into law by the NYC City Council, making the East River Fifties safe from new construction of megatowers—but with one major threat remaining. In December 2017, the developer of the 58th Street site applied to the NYC Board of Standards & Appeals (“BSA”) for an exception to the new law to be allowed to build as planned—or “grandfathered.” Despite forceful objections by ERFA and our supporters, the BSA has approved the grandfathering.
We are taking our case to court, where we will show that the BSA committed multiple errors of law based on a misapprehension of what the NYC Zoning Resolution provides; and, that its decision should not stand.
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