Volume 75, Number 6 | June 28 - July 5, 2005

Certification for Far West Village rezoning postponed three weeks

By Lincoln Anderson

The Department of City Planning has pushed back the certification date for the Far West Village rezoning plan to July 11. Originally, the certification was slated for June 20, a bit less than two weeks after the plan was first presented to the public at the June 9 Community Board 2 Zoning Committee meeting.

Rachaele Raynoff, Planning’s spokesperson, said the postponement was granted “out of respect to a few concerns we heard [at the meeting]” and is being done “with the understanding that the community board, as stated at the June 9 meeting, will be able to maintain the same ULURP schedule.”

Certification begins ULURP, or the city’s uniform land-use review procedure. The board has 60 days after certification to give its input, after which the plan moves on to the next level of review in the seven-month ULURP approval process, which also sees it go before the borough president and City Council. Board 2’s Zoning Committee will consider the plan July 14, with the full board expected to vote on it later that month.

Assemblymember Deborah Glick, who advocated for postponing certification, said she was “very gratified” by Planning’s decision.

“I’m particularly appreciative of the responsiveness of [Planning] Chairperson Amanda Burden in giving the community additional precertification time to review the plan,” Glick said. “This slight delay at the front end of the process will in no way delay the vote at the community board level. It will give the community valuable time to understand the implications of the proposal and request any adjustments in a more appropriate fashion.”

Andrew Berman, director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, had backed the earlier date. But he said after receiving assurances from Maria Passannante Derr, the incoming C.B. 2 chairperson, that the board would weigh in on the plan in July, he could accept the postponement. Berman had said he was worried about the possibility of the board dragging its feet, putting more of the Far West Village at risk of development during the delay.

Derr, who became board chairperson on June 23, stressed that when she spoke to Berman earlier this month it wasn’t as chairperson, even though Don MacPherson had just withdrawn from the chairperson race, assuring Derr would be named the board’s leader.

“I gave [Berman] my position as a member of the Zoning Committee — that I’m in favor of moving forward,” Derr said of the rezoning plan. “It’s long overdue.

“It was an excellent presentation by Amanda Burden and Commissioner Tierney. It was obviously well thought out,” Derr said.

The community’s main concern with the proposal is that it doesn’t downzone the Whitehall Mini-Storage warehouse at Charles and 10th Sts., where the Witkoff/Lehman Brothers team plans a 17-story development, and only partially downzones the Superior Ink site at Bethune and W. 12th Sts., where Related Companies plans a 23-story residential building.

“These two sites have to be readdressed, and there is certainly time for them to be readdressed, even though the process will be starting,” said Derr. “My sense was that the community was concerned about these two sites, but that for the most part they were pretty satisfied with the plan.”

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