Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Calling all Carroll Gardens!
Please Dear C. G. Resident:
Copy/paste this letter below and send it ASAP to Mayor Bloomberg! Here is the link...it's so easy!!
Dear Mayor Bloomberg:
We are Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. We have sought relief from the hyper-development that is taking place here through moratorium petition (3000+ signatures), contextual downzoning application (an undetermined wait time), amendments to the zoning text (a fairly lengthy and only partial solution), City Council Resolution (valiant and appreciated, but unbinding), expansion of our historic district (a volatile, divisive topic) and a rally at Borough Hall organized by our Councilman and Assemblywoman.
We have overcrowded schools, dirty streets and air, inadequate public transportation. We have far too many stop work orders regularly issued for dangerous construction situations. We have no nearby Post Office. Almost all of the private parking lots have been developed. All of our local elected officials have recently requested information from both the DOB and the MTA/NYCTA regarding their communication and procedures when construction is being conducted in close proximity to our subway tunnel. There are currently dozens of such projects, an unprecedented amount for our Smith Street corridor, most of which seemed to be completely under the MTA/NYCTA radar. We are all concerned. The pace here is fast, and all too often, homeowners are paying the price in property damages, simply for living next to, nearby or behind a developer who has hired careless workers employing, at times, questionable practices.
Read the local blogs, Mr. Mayor, take a look at our local papers. We have been crying out for months for help. We are not anti-development. All we want is thoughtful, responsible, respectful development. We love where we live. We would like to preserve it. Won't you please help us?
XXXXX (sign you name here)
Thank you so much for your help! Together we will protect Carroll Gardens from overdevelopment!
CG C.O.R.D./Carroll Gardens Coalition for Respectful Development
visit www.carrollgardenspetition.blogspot.com for a longer, more comprehensive letter, which can be mailed by hand.
Here is a good run-down of the rally borrowed from the blog, Brownstoner, which is ironically well-decorated with advertisements for Clarett's Forte building:
About 50 people (and one well-dressed canine) showed at Borough Hall this morning to support the drive to downzone Carroll Gardens. Council Member Bill de Blasio organized the rally, and he had some big news to share: The Department of City Planning has officially committed to studying a downzoning of the neighborhood. The news comes hot on the heels of Planning’s announcement that it would initiate a a zoning text amendment to impose height limitations on 1st through 4th Place. De Blasio is also pushing for the city to impose building height limitations of 50 feet while the downzoning is studied. “We want to limit heights until a legal downzoning goes through,” de Blasio said at the rally. Representatives of Assemblywoman Yvette Clark and Assemblywoman Joan Millman also spoke in support of the downzoning, as did Gary Reilly of the Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association. “What attracts people to the neighborhood is its low scale,” said Reilly. “We want to prevent Carroll Gardens from becoming the next Williamsburg, with developers throwing up buildings willy-nilly.” De Blasio noted that downzonings typically take a year to a year and a half to push through, and time is of the essence in terms of downzoning Carroll Gardens since the clock is ticking on the current administration's term.
Monday, January 28, 2008
Thanks to all those who responded to the Daily News article, both on the site and elsewhere. Here is a response that we found particularly interesting and relevant:
As a resident of Carroll Gardens Landmark Condominium, located in a converted church on Court Street about 150 feet away from the Claret site and protected by national Landmark status, it is quite disturbing to know that our 1868 stained glass windows will be subjected to the violent vibrations of the nearby construction site. These delicate stained glass windows are an irreplaceable part of this community's history, and while it is painful to know that listing on the National Register of Historic Places does not seem to provide any protections against nearby construction, it speaks volumes that the developers are so unfamiliar and out-of-touch with our neighborhood as to even make the effort to care. The historic structures in close proximity to this construction site should be pro-actively protected by these developers to insure that they remain important links to the past in our unique neighborhood fabric.
Jay A. Lubow
Applied Design Initiative, LLC
Friday, January 25, 2008
TO PRESERVE AND PROTECT CARROLL GARDENS,
SOUTH BROOKLYN, NEW YORK
TUESDAY, JANUARY 29TH
16 COURT STREET
Join Councilmember Bill de Blasio, Assemblymember Joan Millman, The Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association (CGNA), Carroll Gardens Coalition For Respectful Development (CORD), Baltic & Warren Neighbors, Columbia Waterfront Neighborhood Association and The Union-Sackett Block Association to support a resolution calling upon the Department of City Planning to immediately commence a downzoning study (50’height limit) of Carroll Gardens to protect our neighborhood and the Department of Buildings to implement the appropriate procedure to preserve the character of Carroll Gardens until the downzoning is complete.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
The draft of the resolution is as follows:
Resolution calling upon the Department of City Planning to commence immediately a downzoning study of Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn and upon the Department of Buildings to not issue permits that would allow any new construction or alteration to an existing building to exceed a height limit of 50 feet until the Carroll Gardens neighborhood downzoning is complete.
By Council Member de Blasio
Whereas, Carroll Gardens is a charming neighborhood defined by its tree-lined streets, beautiful 3-4 story brownstones, and atypical setbacks that create deep front yards; and
Whereas, The architecture and layout of Carroll Gardens creates a village-like character, which is not commonly found in New York City; and
Whereas, Currently, Carroll Gardens is zoned R6, which does not provide a restriction on height; and
Whereas, With the recent state of hyper-development in Brooklyn, there is widespread concern that large scale new constructions pose a threat to the fabric of this historical Brooklyn neighborhood; and
Whereas, According to a 2006 survey by Brooklyn Community Board 6, 91% of neighborhood residents surveyed responded that they were either very concerned or concerned about the height or size of new buildings in the neighborhood. Further, 83% of those surveyed indicated that they favored stricter limits on the height, size and/or overall bulk of new buildings; and
Whereas, A neighborhood downzoning by the Department of City Planning would be the most effective long term solution to the problem of over-development in Carroll Gardens; and
Whereas, A 50 foot height limit will protect the neighborhood from over-development while also providing time for the Department of City Planning to perform the necessary study and analysis that would precede the downzoning of Carroll Gardens; and
Whereas, A height restriction of 50 feet, to be implemented immediately, will cap the height on new building construction or alternation to existing buildings to prevent the construction of buildings higher than 50 feet over the next several years; now, therefore, be it.
Resolved, That the Council of the City of New York calls upon the Department of City Planning to commence immediately a downzoning study of Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn and upon the Department of Buildings to not issue permits that would allow any new construction or alteration to an existing building to exceed a height limit of 50 feet until the Carroll Gardens neighborhood downzoning is complete.
Neighbors of the site also question Clarett's apparent illegal use of a nearby fire hydrant. Some of their waste bins are also taking up parking space on Union St.
A complaint was put into 311 last night because work on the asbestos removal was being done after 12:00 AM, conflicting with Clarett's promise to work only during acceptable, legal hours. Here is a copy of the complaint as posted on the DOB website:
We have been trying to keep a controlled response to The Clarett Group's efforts at 340 Court St. in hopes of having a productive dialogue about safety and the outcome of the development. The Union's protest today has raised new levels of fear about the asbestos removal and general construction safety, along with all the issues around proper notification.
We have received many emails and calls about this important asbestos removal, along with numerous complaints about the open fire hydrant and blocked parking spots without proper permits on Union St. We know many calls were made to 311 today.
We are currently drafting a letter to Clarett requesting direct meaningful dialogue between USBA and Clarett Group about all these issues. Today's event highlight the immediate need for this dialogue.
Monday, January 14, 2008
Using the varied talents of Union-Sackett Block Association members, we have formed three important committees that have already begun to work towards our collective goals. We have established a Core Committee, which is responsible for shaping our goals and message, a Safety Committee, which will directly address issues of demolition and construction at 340 Court St., and a Communications Committee, which will help keep the neighborhood and media informed.
If you have an interest or want to make a contribution to these committees, please email the USBA at email@example.com Check the blog for updates from each commitee over the next few weeks before our next meeting on February 9th.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Also, please sign up for the Carroll Gardens CORD (Carroll Gardens Coalition for Respectful Development) newsletter. To do so go to http://www.feedblitz.com/f/f
Thursday, January 10, 2008
I would also like to post some follow up information about the asbestos removal at the 340 Court St. site. There has been a lot of discussion about it both here and on the Gowanus Lounge and I would like to share the corespondence I have had with David Lowin of Clarett Group:
Dear Mr. Lowin,
Thank you for your response on the Union-Sackett Block Association blog. I am pleased you read it and have an interest in what the community is doing. I'm confident that you and Clarett, as well as your construction team, are doing the work at the 340 Court St. site correctly and safety. My concern lies in the fact that the information you have given me about asbestos, concerning permits and their placement, does not correspond with the information I have received from the Department of Environmental Protection. This is the response I got from the Asbestos Ombudsman of the DEP in Washington D.C.:
There is an EPA publication entitled Guidance for Controlling Asbestos-containing Materials in Buildings which discusses at length the requirement of constructing barriers completely around buildings in which asbestos containing materials are being disturbed. The barriers usually consist of heavy-gauge plastic sheeting stretched vertically to contain anything that is removed or released. It is also stated that aprominent sign must be posted at all entrances at a distance of at least 20 ft from the entrance.
Another document, National Emission Standards for Hazardous AirPollutants; Asbestos NESHAP Revision (40 CFR Part 61 Subpart M) statesthe requirement for warning signs that must be posted on all trucks that are involved in hauling/removing asbestos material away from the site.The link below is to asbestos rules and regulations published by the NewYork City Department of Environmental Protection. Go to p. 58 where youwill find Subchapter G, Part 2 (Work Procedures), article1-125 (Work Area Preparation), paragraph (a). That paragraph deals with noticesthat must be placed at each entrance to a facility in which abatement isto be done.
The neighbors of the site on the Union St. side of the site were unaware of the abatement. One tenant was unpleasantly surprised, particularly after he spent the whole day raking in his yard. Can you clarify why permits or notices were not posted? There seems to be continual discrepancy about the law and my response from D.C. conflicts with the information I have received from you via the blog.
The purpose of our blog is to make Block Association members and other community members aware of what is going on in our neighborhood, particularly at the 340 site. It would be much more direct if a member of Clarett could communicate to the community directly about what is going on at the site, especially when it is something as serious and of a concern as asbestos abatement. A posted notice, a phone call to neighbors, or even an email would have been appropriate.
If you or member of your team would like the information of the neighboring residents I can forward it to you, along with any other contact information for members of our association.
Please let me know your thoughts.
Union-Sackett Block Association
Mr. Lowin replied:
I have just double checked the notification requirements per our third-party monitor. The only entrances that need to have signs are those that are unlocked. As you know, all entrances to the building are locked, except for the rear entrance of the building, which is how our workers are entering the building. That rear entrance has signage on it indicating that asbestos abatement is in process.
Also, I am surprised to hear that anyone has been unaware of the abatement activity. As you no doubt recall the topic of asbestos abatement was discussed at length at our meeting in December. At the time, we indicated that abatement activity would begin right after New Years and would last for about 3 weeks. Therefore I believe we have provided the Association with several weeks notice of the commencement of abatement activity, and we asked that all in attendance spread that word. In addition, I received an email from Tom Gray (from Bill Diblasio's office) requesting an update on the abatement timing, and responded that day, that abatement was set to begin right after New Year's day.
Regarding future communications, I believe that a representative of one of the elected officials who was present (Tom Gray) offered to start up an email mailing list to facilitate the distribution of further knowledge. I have not yet received such a list, but will use it to update the association once it is compiled.
Thank you for your concern,
The Clarett Group
We will try to get an e-mail list together for David Lowin and encourage him and others at Clarett to use both that list and the blog to help keep us informed.
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Monday, January 7, 2008
I'm sure some of you have not only noticed the garbage at 340 Court St., but also the taped windows and curious device in the parking lot. Deanna R. Bitetti, District Representative of the Office of U.S. Representative Yvette D. Clarke, confirmed today that this is indeed evidence of asbestos removal. In response to an e-mail sent by Union-Sackett Block Association member, Vincent Joseph, Ms. Bitetti wrote:
The response I received was:
Yes, the air monitoring was related to the asbestos abatement. They began asbestos abatement last week and that work will continue for a couple more weeks. Demolition activity should begin after that -towards the end of the month.
Also, on another topic: There was a concern about increased rodent activity during demolition. Their contractor has agreed to put additional rodent baiting in neighboring properties' basements if theyare requested and this is available to any neighbors who might want it.
Deanna R. Bitetti, District Representative
Office of U.S. Representative Yvette D. Clarke
Brooklyn District Office
Although word seems to have gotten out about the asbestos abatement, there are no visisble permits posted on the building and I question the legality of this. A phonecall and complaint will be put into 311 tonight and I will post any updates.
Sunday, January 6, 2008
All are encouraged to attend this meeting and the upcoming Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association meeting listed below.
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
Meeting Summary, 12/21
Location: Scotto's Funeral Home
Notes taken by Gian Trotta/Ms. Morley Morley
Partial List of those in attendance:
Assemblywoman Joan Millman
Paul Nelson, her chief of staff
John L. Heyer, Special Ass't to Borough President Tom Gray, representing offices of Bill De Blasio (De Blasio unable to attend on what Tom referred to as family business in Iowa) Deanna Bitetti district representative from office of Yvette Clarke Buddy Scotto
For the Clarett Group:
Mr. David Lowin, Development Director
Mr. Daniel Hollander, Senior Managing Director
For Union-Sackett Block Ass'n:
Other representatives included
Maria Pagano of Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association Oscar Jonas - deputy Chief of Staff for Martin Connor Jeff Strabone, CB6
Other concerned neighbors:
Tom Diller 285 Sackett
David Kruth, Clinton Street
Mr. Hollander began meeting by noting that Clarett Group had decided to abandon an earlier tower-based plan as "not appropriate" for the neighborhood in favor of a combination of four story brownstones and a seven-story mixed retail/condo unit building.
He and Mr. Lowin then passed around a prototype draft of the proposed building and a drawing of the elevation for all to see. Later on when asked if we could have a copy of that drawing he said no.
The architect is Rogers Marvel PLLC, who have done the State St.
townhouses and are currently working on the building at 3rd and Bond Streets.
Back on Court St., the basic structure of the latter building is an L-shape that begins on Court St. just south of Apple Bank building and turns corner onto Union. Further West on Union, the building will slant gradually backwards join the setback strip of four townhouses in such a way that it will not create a right angle.
In the main building, the sixth story will have private terraces and the seventh story will have shared and private rooftop space.
The total number of units are: 10 townhouses (four on Sackett, six on
Union) on 100x20 plots. The buildings will be set back ten feet from property line, be 50 feet deep, and have 40 foot long backyards.
The 30 condo units condos will average 1900 square feet and be mostly 3 bedrooms. Some on Union St. will be configured as maisonettes with ground-floor entrances and small outdoor spaces; the second floors in the back of these structures will stick out to create a private outdoor area.
The building will be excavated to a depth below 10 feet to create a 10 foot downlevel for parkign for 70 cars.
Mr. Hollander noted that Clarett and the current Apple Bank building owners could not agree on a price, which is why their property was not purchased and included.
On building, Mr. Hollander said Clarett plans to use "Materials consistent with neighborhood; a lot of brick, and panel system that may be cementitious but will look like stone."
Mr. Hollander adds the the first floor of the condo building on Union Street will have a number of duplex condos with high ceiling and double-height windows that will break up an large expanses of slab wall.
Buddy Scotto noted that too many architects wish to do signature pieces that stand out, and they succeed to the point it was ugly. He cited State St., however as a pretty good example of modern architecture.
Mr. Hollander notes the entrance for cars will be on Sackett St. about 100 feet back from Court St., just behind the current Apple Bank building. The garage, which will be excavated 10 feet below building, will have 70 spaces or "maybe a few more."
Ms. Morley asked if the building would have a loading dock?
Mr. Hollander noted that while the city requires a loading dock for the retail establishments planned on the first floor of the building on Court Street, Clarett has not decide if they will put in int the building or garage space, but in any event, such a facility would not be for loading as the businesses would work via curbside deliveries on Court St.
Anoher question: Are there any plans to hire a leasing group to help move the 13,000 sq foot of retail space in the less-than-booming Court St. market?
Mr. Hollander: We will hire agent, don't know if local, could be someone like Corcoran, one of three real retail specialists.
Assemblywoman Millman then noted that the neighborhood could most use a supermarket and/or a post office.
It was noted that post offices cannot afford to pay high rents currently in effect in neighborhood. The turned to what supermarkets that were moving into the area and why the currently vacant former Blockbuster building wouldn't be suitable -- it's two-level format is not useful for supermarkets (although it is for drugstores) -- but the assemblywoman noted that the neighborhood did not need any more drugstores.
Mr. Hollander noted that contractor is aware that they can only work between 7am and 6 pm Schedule as they plan it:
January - demolition
around March - excavation
about 15 months from start to finish
Robbin Slade, who lives on Sackett very close to construction site, noted that her driveway was blocked in four times by Utility trucks.
She also noted that demolition work was done at night, and her son was very afraid.
She requested that Clarett notify them in future.
Mr. Hollander said that they were not aware of this situation and that it was probably due to LICH moving out of the parking garage and clearing the building of their property.
Tom Diller: noted that when Clinton St. was ripped up to run new gas mains, there was notable damage to homes. Was Clarett aware they were dealing with a really old infrastructure?
Mr. Hollander said Mr. Lowin will be the "point person" for problems. He added that "there will be damage but we hope that it will be kept under control."
Tom Diller that antiquated sewer pipe made of clay as seen at the time the sewer main was redone on Clinton Street, could be especially vulnerable.
Mr. Hollander noted that a construction protection survey, is part of the process, typically immediately upon building, and they document existing condition of homes and take pictures. He said they will do this before the demolition.
Ms. Morley Morley described how disconcerting both lack of warning and actual technique used by backhoe operator -- dropping claw onto macadam in parking lot was. she asked why they did not use a diamond saw or jackhammers instead.
Mr. Hollaner noted that this happened because macadam was found to have concrete underneath, and that's the way they break it up. He said that they are working with contractor to make them aware of this issue.
Again Mr. Lowin will be the point of contact with the community, and there will be onsite office.
What precautions are being take for asbestos removal?
Mr. Hollander: It will be abated as per standard practice by a licensed asbestos-removal firm. He notes that the demolition will be done from within, with small bobcats taking down walls in inside building rather than the old-style wrecking ball.
Ms. Morley asked if any of the materials in the building salvageable in accordance with emerging green building standards of reuse
Mr. Hollander: Basically no. LICH group did a pretty thorough job of removing anything usable; neighbors concur, noting they even took out stained-glass windows.
Back on the asbestos front, the air will be monitored and all results filed.
Robbin cites fact her son suffers from asthma and this could be a problem.
Gian Trotta asks Mr. Hollander to explain what kind of procedure the asbestos-abatement teams will follow and what kind of oversight they are subject to.
Mr. Hollander said they will follow all established procedures applying to asbestos-removal firms licensed by New York State. Asbestos will be bagged inside of building and brought out in special sealed bags into a secured container.
Ms. Morley and Robbin raised specter of vermin during demolition -- how will that be controlled?.
Mr. Lowin: They have put out poison and are monitoring its effectiveness.
Ms. Morley and Deanna Bitetti asked when plans would be filed.
Mr. Hollander: They are currently more focused on layout than the particular details, but expect them in early spring to coincide with breaking ground in March.
Tom Gray askes if the building's exterior will have Fedders-style boxes:
Mr. Hollander: No, compressors are located within each unit.
Gian: Will there be rooftop compressors or other mechanicals that will generate noticable noise on a regular basis?
Mr. Hollander: No, this is not in plans; all mechanicals are encapsulated in house. Compressors are the noisy parts of the system and they will be in each unit. On the roof will be a "cooling tower"
which makes only a small noise.
Fred Caruso asked if the locust trees on Union Street be knocked down?
Mr. Hollander: asked where they were located (ie sidewalk or on the
property) but couldn't say yay or nay.
Tom Gray asked : Has Clarett sought LEAD certification?
Mr. Hollaner: Yes, they will seek it at its lowest level, but there is a whole long list to follow to get this (which they already have), such as
closeness to transportation
use of certain building materials
Assemblywoman Millman: Notes that 70 parking spaces for 42 units will leave a surplus.
Mr. Hollander acknowledges, and says unused spaces could be sold by Clarett.
Assemblywoman Millman notes some other Clarett project, including one not well-received in Chelsea. Tom Gray asks if Clarett has secured funding yet?
Mr. Hollander: No, they're on bridge loan in pre-construction phase but lender (Prudential) is expected to come in when all parties are ready to start building.
When building starts, how will damage be minimized? How will you document current status of properties?
Assemblywoman Millman: notes need to expand this to much larger groups of affected homeowners.
Mr. Hollander declined a request from Gian Trotta to provide a copy of the massing diagram to posts online for other residents to see, on grounds that they feel the design is not finalized enough. Noted that building by committee makes ugly buildings such as those at Columbia University built in last two decades which are less-than-desirable results of architecture by committee.
Gian detailed for Mr Hollander and Mr. Lowin how the Union-Sackett Block Association's communication means (blogs, wikis and telephone
hotline) can be used for notifications of meetings and news and dissemination of information.