For Immediate Release
January 17, 2018
Rachaele Raynoff, Joe Marvilli – firstname.lastname@example.org (212) 720-3471
CITY PLANNING COMMISSION (CPC) CHAIR MARISA LAGO MADE THE FOLLOWING REMARKS AT TODAY'S CPC VOTE TO APPROVE THE CITY'S JEROME AVENUE NEIGHBORHOOD PLAN
January 17, 2018 - Yesterday and today were interesting bookends. Yesterday, we began the public review process for the Inwood rezoning and today, we are near the end of the process on the Jerome Avenue rezoning, which was more than three years in the making. More than just a rezoning, the Jerome Avenue Neighborhood Plan represents the goals and visions for an active, safe, healthy and vibrant corridor that serves the community. It’s the result of the hard work and partnership of residents, local small businesses, community institutions – the full gamut of local stakeholders. I particularly have to call out the leadership shown by the three involved Community Boards and the unwavering commitment of Councilmember Vanessa Gibson and also Fernando Cabrera.
I credit the Community Boards, Councilmembers and the residents for insisting that the goals stay big, and the conversation remain broad, going beyond just zoning, and for never losing the forest for the trees.
The land use actions on which we’re voting will transform the corridor by broadening permitted uses, allowing housing, and most importantly affordable housing, schools, and other community facilities where none are permitted today under the outdated zoning. They’ll also diversify commercial development to better meet the needs of the surrounding neighborhoods. And they’ll map parkland that can replace underutilized, vacant lots with green open space.
The land use actions on which we’re voting will also transform the corridor by imposing design controls. They’ll require setbacks from the elevated rail. They’ll require non-residential, active ground-floor uses, whether for retail or community facility uses, both of which provide both welcome eyes and light on the street, particularly a street that is adjacent to an elevated rail line. They’ll also allow numerous irregular and challenged sites to more easily develop as-of-right.
It takes a village – or in our case a city, to get to this point on a plan like this. I’ve already called out the Community Boards and Councilmembers Gibson and Cabrera. But I also need to note the leadership of Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. He was an integral part of the planning process and has made this a better proposal.
I’d also like to acknowledge the work of our partners in City government, and it is a veritable alphabet soup. HPD, DOT, DPR, SBS, DOMMH, the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development and the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. I welcome the fact that their contributions go beyond a rezoning application. They’re an integral part of developing and more importantly, implementing a comprehensive neighborhood plan.
Of course, I need to acknowledge the work of the dedicated City Planning team. It starts with the Bronx Borough Office, under the leadership of Carol Samol and Shawn Brede. I especially want to commend our senior planner Michael Parkinson. All who have worked with Michael over the years have become infected with his contagious passion for the neighborhood, recognizing the challenges but also making sure we always see the beauty, the opportunities that are there in the neighborhood. As always, a number of divisions throughout City Planning are involved, ranging from Environmental Assessment and Review, Technical Review, Zoning, Urban Design, Legal Counsel, Housing, Economic and Infrastructure Planning, Transportation, Land Use Review, and Capital Planning. All of them had invaluable contributions.
Of course, there are concerns about the proposal, many of which were articulated in the various public hearings and before this Commission. Some of the concerns relate directly to the zoning proposals. Others are more indirect and raise issues that go beyond the remit of the Commission. But I’m pleased with both the breadth of the Plan and the commitment from each of our agency partners and from the Dept. of City Planning itself, to continue working on implementation and addressing problems in real time. We see that some of these changes are already being put into effect, with the City instituting a Certificate of No Harassment to keep landlords accountable. From protecting the tenants of the southwest Bronx, to investing in streets, from beginning to organize a local workforce network to improving local parks, all of these are part of the transformation of Jerome and on this bases, I’m pleased to vote yes.