Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Bath Beach Rezoning Efforts Continue Apace

From the Daily News

Coming to their census on rezoning
BY DENISE ROMANO

Tuesday, July 24th 2007, 4:00 AM

Bath Beach residents are turning to a novel method to forestall a possible wave of new real estate development that could change the "country-in-the-city" feel of their neighborhood.

They are taking an architectural census in response to sweeping zoning changes recently implemented in neighboring Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights.

The concern is that the capping of building heights in those areas will usher developers into Bath Beach in search of new opportunities.

In anticipation, City Councilman Vincent Gentile is leading a campaign to inventory the existing housing stock - an effort that could also be the first step in getting Bath Beach downzoned like its neighbors.

"We map out each house, block by block, to keep the zoning the same," said Gentile's aide, Eric Kuo. The surveys are given out by the Historic Districts Council.

Volunteer surveyors take note of the size, condition and details of the house, including whether there are trees on the property.

In a block made up of five-story buildings, for example, a developer should be allowed to build only as high as five stories, Kuo said. "It's only fair," he said.

Ursula Agosta, who lives on Bay 10th St., has been approached a few times by developers seeking to tear down her two-family house, which also boasts seven fig trees on the property, she said. One developer wanted to build a six-family condo.

A house at Cropsey Ave. and Bay Eighth St. disappeared virtually overnight after it was sold about a year ago, Agosta said.

"They knock down the houses in one second," said the Bath Beach resident of more than 30 years.

"The congestion is overwhelming, and we are losing that quality of 'country-in-the-city' around here," said Agosta, who led a campaign about 15 years ago to stop a Taco Bell from moving in next to a church in the residential neighborhood.

"When you build six- to eight-family houses next to a two-family house, the driveway takes away parking spots and it becomes a density issue," said Joe Mancino, another Gentile aide working on the survey.

But locals said they don't object to multistory developments on 86th St., the main commercial strip of Bath Beach.

"You don't want to stymie development," Kuo said.

Agosta said she just wants to preserve the charm that the neighborhood has. "It's a shame - not many neighborhoods like this are left in the city," she said. "People have to stand firm."