CB 18 Rejects Bid For Mill Island Condo Project
By Jason Medina
After waiting 20 minutes for the doors to the Kings Plaza Community room to open so last week’s Community Board 18 meeting could begin, patience quickly turned to resentment, as Mill Island residents voiced their displeasure towards an application variance to build 40 four-story duplex buildings at 6055/6065 Strickland Avenue.
Vowing to do "everything in our power" to stop the construction from taking place, residents cited that the proposed construction would increase the already problematic traffic and parking in the area, cause overcrowding in local schools, and hurt the character of the area.
"As far as I’m concerned, any attempt to build four story buildings is an insidious plot against what we have in Mill Island," said long time resident and Community Board 18 member Sheldon Pulaski. "Mill Island is a gem. It’s a unique part of Brooklyn where you find you’re not living in Brooklyn, you’re living in a suburban area...(it’s) totally out of face, out of character and does not belong."
Attorney Jay A. Segal, representing Enopac Holdings, the filers of the application, tried to reassure residents by explaining how the owners of the property have tried to work with the community to make the buildings better suited for the area. Segal said they put in extra amenities recommended by residents, including marketing the duplex apartments to be purchased separately instead of as one unit, so that anyone who buys the apartments could not rent the units; increasing the purchase price of individual units $50,000 to $450,000-$500,000, so that buyers will have a genuine financial commitment to the area, and putting in 40 elevators so upper duplexes will be more accessible.
Segal also pointed out that the buildings would not cause traffic problems as they will have their own parking facilities. "While I understand the terrible situation here traffic-wise, the coming and going of 40 families are not going to add significantly to the environment and traffic situations."
Many felt that no matter what amenities were made, the proposed project goes against the wishes of local residents who want the area to be used specifically for one and two family homes.
"While this property is a beautiful and very attractive site, quite frankly this is not what we wanted, " State Assemblyman Frank Seddio said. "We wanted to keep it the way the rest of the community is."
Controversy has surrounded the site for years. In the zoning resolution of 1916, the area was deemed a manufacturing and commercial area. Over the years, however, it has slowly been used primarily for one and two family homes. Wanting to keep the area that way, local community boards, elected officials and residents, fought to change the zoning policy.
In 1996, the Department of City Planning changed the zoning from manufacturing and commercial to a residential district. Existing owners that use the site for manufacturing purposes are grandfathered in, meaning that they can keep their businesses until they decide to sell it or change the use of the property, in which case, it must be used for residential purposes.
Following in the footsteps of the Mill Island Civic Association, which unanimously voted on April 1 not to support the application as submitted, members of the Community Board also voted unanimously to reject the application to the delight of almost everyone in attendance.
The next battle in this issue is scheduled for May 7, when the Board of Standards and Appeals will hold a hearing.