CHCA Meeting Minutes: August 2008

Special August Meeting to Discuss Landmarking

Guest Presenters:

Historic District Council: Frampton Tolbert & Lauren Belfer
Council Member Letitia James and aide Alfred Chiodo
CHNA: Ethel E. Tyus & Deborah L. Young
PHNDC: Roz Parr

Meeting was called to order at 7:20 by Nina Meledandri & Stacey Sheffey

Frampton Tolbert introduced various aspects of the landmarking:

Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) looks for areas with buildings of historical, cultural or architectural significance

LPC requires that there be strong community support for obtaining landmark status

All exterior aspects of buildings in a landmarked district are grandfathered at the point in time when landmark status is granted. Any subsequent changes to the exterior of buildings requires landmarks approval

LPC does not control use of buildings in the district.

LPC looks for continuity between blocks to create a district.

The property values of buildings in a landmarked district increase at a higher rate than those not in the district

When a building owner wishes to make a change to a building in a landmarked district they will apply for one of 3 permits:

  1. certificate of no effect: the change does not effect the outside appearance of the building
  2. minor change permit: for small alterations
  3. certificate of appropriateness: for changes to the nature of the building (ie: removing a stoop) these sort of changes need to be presented to the community/elected officials for their opinion

The Landmarking Process:

Community submits requests for evaluation (from individual property owners), along with photos, a map and boundaries of the proposed district.

If the neighborhood is considered worthy it gets calendared for a public hearing where the pros & cons are discussed, the outcome of that hearing determines the status

CHNA’s experience with the landmarking process:

Landmarking requires strong community and elected official support

It is necessary to focus on making sure the community understands the benefits

We will want to ask for a larger area than what we want, LPC usually cuts back the boundaries.

Our zoning is currently R-6 so it is as of right to build 8 stories. LPC will help protect against overcrowding and inappropriate development. If a new building is proposed for the area, the community gets a voice in saying whether or not the design is appropriate.

LPC needs to know the neighborhood will champion landmark status, they are a small overworked agency and they will only grant landmark status to neighborhoods that will want to police themselves with respect to upholding the regulations.

Sidebar: At the very least we need also work with Community Board 8 to reduce our zoning to protect us from overdevelopment.

We will need to photograph the proposed areas, block by block, to show the housing stock.

CHNA raised interest through mailings and holding meetings every other month to provide information to the community

Crow Hill has been presented fora possibile inclusion in subsequent phases of the Crown Heights landmarking

CHNA put together a book with a survey of the area, key photographs, 200 requests for evaluation from homeowners, letters from every elected official serving their area. In addition a letter/postcard/email campaign was directed at LPC

Brooklyn Historical Society is a good resource for researching what the neighborhood was like years ago, can provide tax photos from the 30’s.

Without the protection of Landmark status, we could become a prime target for development if we are the only area unprotected between Crown Heights North & Prospect Heights

Council Member Letitia James voiced her support and reiterated that LPC wants to feel real community support, they are not interested in coming into a hostile community. She emphasized the importance of closing the gap between PH & CHN.