Tuesday, February 5, 2008

IMPORTANT PUBLIC HEARING: Congregation Shearith Israel Back at BSA

Congregation Shearith Israel: Round 2 at NYC Board of Standards and Appeals

Woody Allen had it right. 80% of success is showing up. Next week, YOU can help us get one step closer to success in a key battle, one with major ramifications for the entire city. Just by showing up.

On Tuesday, February 12 (in the afternoon, exact time tba), the NYC Board of Standards and Appeals will take yet another look at Congregation Shearith Israel's (CSI's) application for 7 zoning variances to build a 105'-tall building stacking 5 floors of luxury condos on top of a new community house on the brownstone midblock of West 70th Street. At stake is nothing less than the purpose and integrity of the laws that protect our communities against insensitive and out-of-scale development.

This public hearing is open to all, and anyone may speak (even if you already spoke at the last hearing on November 27). We know mid-day hearing saren't easy, and we wouldn't ask if your presence weren't vitally important.Showing up means just as much as speaking up, so please make every effort to attend even if you don't plan to testify! Help hold the line against overdevelopment - in our neighborhood, in every neighborhood, in all five boroughs. All of you fighting for sensible zoning in your communities know that CSI's application is just the beginning of the story. Don't let this domino fall!


Our case in defense of brownstone-scale blocks grows stronger and stronger. Architect Craig Morrison, AIA, and real-estate appraiser Martin Levine ofMetropolitan Valuation Services, Inc., joined our team of experts who confirm that CSI's variance request should be denied. Morrison reviewed CSI's plans and concluded that an as-of-right building (with no variances) "can without question amply satisfy all of the programmatic and accessibility needs asserted by the Congregation in a reasonable and acceptable way and with space to spare." Levine strongly disagrees with CSI's contention that variances are needed in order to "monetize" the site's development potential. His independent analysis shows that "Development of the unused portion of the Congregation Shearith Israel Site with either a mixed-use or all residential 'as of right' building is in fact economically feasible, providing sufficient entrepreneurial profit to any potential investor/developer." Copies of their reports and other opposition materials submitted to BSA on January 28, 2008, please visit www.protectwest70.org.

Both Morrison and Levine will testify at next Tuesday's hearing. Please bethere to show your support!

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