Testimony by New York State Senator
Thomas K. Duane before the New York City
Planning Commission's Hearing Regarding
Hudson Square North Rezoning

April 23, 2008

My name is Thomas K. Duane and I represent New York State's 29th Senate District, in which Hudson Square North, also known as the South West Village, is located. Thank you for the opportunity to present testimony about the proposed rezoning before the New York City Planning Commission today.

Any time Greenwich Village is faced with proposed zoning changes, careful thought must be given to how those changes would impact existing residents as well as the scale and character of the neighborhood. Given those considerations, I strongly encourage the City Planning Commission to deny the application to rezone five and one-half blocks between Barrow and Clarkson Streets west of Hudson Street from M1-5 to M1-5/R7X.

As Manhattan Community Board 2 (CB2) stated in its resolution on this matter, there has been widespread community opposition to this rezoning plan. Rather, there is a desire for a community based zoning plan that better meets the needs of the area and includes the M1-6 and M2-4 zoning districts immediately to the South.

Despite its current M1-5 zoning, the South West Village has slowly become a mixed use area as the New York City Board of Standards and Appeals has granted several variances over the years to allow residential buildings. Although the evolution of this neighborhood suggests the need for a rezoning, the proposal now being considered appears to have little community benefit and, as CB2 noted, would further crowd area public schools already brimming as a result of increased residential uses in downtown Manhattan.

The Environmental Assessment Statement for this rezoning indicates it would also lead to the displacement of existing businesses. CB2 acknowledged that some of the uses currently allowed in this area are not desirable; however, this rezoning would displace businesses and government facilities indiscriminately. This is especially a concern with respect to 75 Morton Street, which is occupied by the New York City Regional Office of the New York State Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities. This facility not only provides vital services to thousands of New Yorkers with developmental disabilities, but it also offers valuable public meeting space to the wider Greenwich Village community. While I believe we should be encouraging the preservation of such facilities in our neighborhood, the proposed rezoning would make it attractive for the State to sell this property to a residential developer and move these services elsewhere.

For these reasons, I urge the City Planning Commission to reject the proposed Hudson Square North rezoning and instead engage the affected community and CB2 to create an alternative rezoning proposal that is more sensitive to the needs of this neighborhood and the areas to the immediate South.

Thank you for allowing me to testify today and for your consideration of my recommendations.

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