"Wide" Carroll Gardens Streets to Get Narrow
Of all the odd zoning quirks in New York City, one of the strangest is the definition of some of the very narrow streets in Carroll Gardens as being "wide." This is because the gardens in front of the homes are counted as part of the street for zoning purposes. And so, streets barely wide enough for two parked cars and one car driving up the middle (a total of 50 feet including sidewalks) are defined as nearly being as wide as Atlantic Avenue. This, in turn, allows a developers to build much taller buildings than would otherwise be the case. This will likely change under zoning text amendments that are now being formally considered by the city. Yesterday, City Planning sent out and email that said:
In response to concerns raised by Council Member de Blasio, Borough President Markowitz, Community Board 6 and local civic groups the Department of City Planning began public review today on a creative zoning solution to protect the built character of a number of streets in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn.Neighborhood groups have been pushing for the change and all of the narrow streets in the neighborhood have been included (see the map above). The change would cut maximum building height on these streets from the current 70 feet to 55 feet. There is more information on the City Planning website.
Under review is a text amendment that would redefine First Place, Second Place, Third Place and Fourth Place; and Second Street, Carroll Street and President Street between Smith and Hoyt Streets as narrow streets for zoning purposes, effectively lowering permitted density and maximum building heights to preserve the character of these unique streets. A narrow street is defined as a mapped street less than 75 wide.
Currently, for zoning purposes these streets are defined as wide streets with widths of 100 to 130. These streets function in many ways like other residential side streets in the area, but have the unique condition of their deep front courtyards which are included in the measurement of the mapped street. Zoning permits larger buildings on wide streets, which are incongruous with this area's built character. By defining these as narrow streets for zoning purposes, lots can be developed or enlarged pursuant to more limited height, setback and floor area regulations which produce buildings more in keeping with the surrounding context.
Community Board 6 and the Brooklyn Borough President now have 45 days to review and make recommendations on the proposal. Following review by the Community Board, the City Planning Commission will hold a public hearing.