SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK
COUNTY OF NEW YORK
COALITION TO REVITALIZE THE WATERFRONT NOW,
JOHN MCGETTRICK, et al. Index No.
For a judgment pursuant to Article 78 of the
Civil Practice Law and Rules AFFIDAVIT OF THOMAS ANGOTTI IN SUPPORT OF THE VERIFIED PETITION
CITY OF NEW YORK, NEW YORK CITY PLANNING
COMMISSION, AMANDA M. BURDEN as Chairman of the
New York City Planning Commission, NEW YORK
DEPARTMENT OF CITY PLANNING, NEW YORK
CITY COUNCIL, IKEA PROPERTY, INC., and
UNITED STATES DREDGING CORPORATION,
STATE OF NEW YORK )
COUNTY OF KINGS )
THOMAS ANGOTTI, being sworn, says:
1. I am a Professor of Urban Affairs and Planning at Hunter College of the City University of New York.. I have an undergraduate degree in Arts and Sciences, a Masters in City and Regional Planning, and Ph.D. in Urban Planning and Policy Development. I have been a professional planner for over 30 years and have worked on community-based planning in the New York City area for the last 15 years. For six years I was professor and chair of the Pratt Institute Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment in Brooklyn. I am a founding member of the New York City Task Force on Community-based Planning and have written in professional journals on the subject of community-based planning and community development. I am editor of the journal Planning Practice and Research and Progressive Planning Magazine.
2. From 1988 to 1994 I was a senior planner with the Brooklyn Office of the New York Department of City Planning and prior to that I was a senior planner with the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development for a period of two years. During my employment with the Department of City Planning, I was responsible for studies of the Brooklyn waterfront and industry. I served as technical advisor to the sub-committee of Brooklyn Community Board 6 that developed a 197-a Plan for the Red Hook community. A copy of my curriculum vitae is annexed hereto.
3. I submit this affidavit in support of the Verified Petition that seeks to invalidate approvals for land use changes granted by the New York City Planning Commission (CPC) and the New York City Council. These approvals re-zone a 22-acre parcel and otherwise enable the construction of a 416,000 square foot retail shopping mall on the waterfront in Erie Basin in Red Hook, Brooklyn, and are entirely inconsistent with the 197-a Plan that was developed by the sub-committee and subsequently approved by the Community Board and the CPC. This affidavit is based on my personal knowledge and my review of the documents referenced and discussed herein.
Section 197-a of the New York City Charter
4. Section 197-a of the New York City Charter is headed "Plans" and provides that plans for "the development, growth, and improvement of the city and of its boroughs and community districts" may be proposed by any of several different layers of government. Among those entities authorized to prepare such plans (but only with respect to land located within the district) are the City’s 59 community boards. A community board that prepares a plan shall submit it to the CPC, and the CPC, if it finds that the plan meets CPC standards and "is consistent with sound planning policy," must approve, approve with modifications, or disapprove the plan.
5. Section 197-a has two important effects on the framework for land use planning in the City. First, it authorizes the creation of a plan to guide future land use decision-making. Traditional planning doctrine favors the creation of a plan containing the goals of the community against which to propose and assess zoning and other land use decisions in the community. Second, Section 197-a authorizes such planning to take place at the community level, rather than centralizing it solely at the Department of City Planning. It is my understanding that this endorsement of community-based planning followed New York City’s history of failed efforts to develop and approve a Citywide Master Plan. Thus, plans submitted by community boards for approval under Section 197-a essentially serve as master plans for defined areas of the city.
6. Section 197-a is the sole section of the Charter that authorizes general land use planning in New York City. Since the Charter was changed in 1989 to explicitly allow community boards to prepare plans, eight plans have been adopted by the CPC under Section 197-a, all but one of them submitted by community boards. In effect, the only general land use plans produced in New York City and adopted by the CPC in the last decade since the city’s Waterfront Plan in 1992 have been by community boards.
Development of the Red Hook 197-a Plan
7. Red Hook is a mixed residential and industrial neighborhood located on a peninsula in south Brooklyn, a community of 11,000 people, most of them in public housing, and 200 industries and small retail businesses. Robert Moses era planning made for an expressway that cut the community in pieces, separated the Red Hook peninsula from upland areas, concentrated the population in public housing, and killed off the maritime industry. Planning for the new containerport in Red Hook encouraged land speculation and residential decline.
8. Yet Red Hook has unique advantages. Red Hook is a paramount waterfront community, surrounded by water on three sides. Few places in the City can offer so powerful a combination of extensive shoreline and breathtaking vistas. Red Hook’s proximity to the central harbor and lower Manhattan makes it an ideal location for new maritime activities including small boat storage and repair, a ferry stop, excursion boats, and other water-related and water-enhancing activities. See Exhibit , Red Hook: A Plan for Community Regeneration, p. 47.
9. In 1992, when Red Hook began its effort to develop a 197-a plan, only one community board, Community Board 3 in the Bronx, had been successful in getting a plan approved. Red Hook had spent years fighting the proliferation of waste transfer stations in the neighborhood, and there was a feeling that the creation of a plan could help move the community from protest to development. Planning would transform Red Hook from a community that always has to say no to things, and build a consensus about what it wants.
10. The Red Hook 197-a Plan (Plan) was developed over a two-year period through a process that brought together the neighborhood’s diverse residents and businesses. It was adopted by Brooklyn Community Board 6 on June 8, 1994, and approved, with modifications, by the City Planning Commission on August 21, 1996. The Plan projected a vision of a mixed residential/industrial community without separate waterfront enclaves. At the time, it was widely praised by Red Hook’s civic leaders and featured on the front page of the Sunday New York Times. Although changes were made by the CPC during the two years it took to analyze and approve the plan, the basic principle of mixed use, integrated development remained intact.
11. The Plan (as originally approved by the Community Board) calls for a doubling of the population to its 1950 level, better access to mass transit, public access along the waterfront, two greenways that tie together all sections of the community, contextual low-rise housing development, preservation of the mixed use pattern and industrial revitalization. It is a unique mixture of long-range visions, middle-range plans, and short-term proposals. It is comprehensive in that it combines physical, social and economic planning across many sectors, but is also unlike traditional cook-book master plans. The Plan arose from the expressed needs and desires of Red Hook residents and not from the pre-conceived notions of planners.
12. The Plan envisaged the construction of new housing, the fostering of mixed commercial/industrial/residential areas, the creation of new community facilities and open spaces that would be located so as to knit together sections of the community, the support of existing industrial activity and the enlistment of economic development resources that would revive dormant or underutilized industrial areas, and the improvement of transportation routes and public transit in the neighborhood.
13. All of the waterfront areas would remain zoned for industrial use, with the exception of two vacant areas that would be turned into open space. Residential uses would be continued and expanded in the core of the peninsula, and the areas between the residential core and the industrial perimeter would become mixed use neighborhoods that would support light industrial and manufacturing, commercial and residential uses. Ibid, p. 49.
14. With respect to the future of industrial activity in Red Hook, the Plan stated
We wish to promote industry that is compatible with the residential community while maintaining the historic mixture of housing and industry.
Ibid, p. 55. For Erie Basin and the New York Shipyard site, the location on which the IKEA Retail Center will be built, the Plan supported the preservation and upgrading of the Erie Basin as a maritime area. It noted that the City’s own Waterfront Plan, enacted in 1992, and the City’s Waterfront Revitalization Plan, designated the Erie Basin as a "Significant Industrial and Maritime Area." In furtherance of this, it recommended that a strategy be developed, with the assistance of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, to use the New York Shipyard site more intensively. It suggested that the relocation of the New York Wholesale Flower Market to the Shipyard might be an appropriate use. Ibid., pp. 62-63, 70.
15. During the process of plan development, the issue arose on several occasions of possible use of Erie Basin for residential or commercial uses. In my capacity as a senior planner with the Department of City Planning, I informed the members of the 197-a Committee and other community participants in the planning process that as the City’s recently-completed Waterfront Plan had been developed there was a good deal of consensus in the Department that Erie Basin was one of the few areas left in the city that was ideally suited to be preserved as a Significant Industrial and Maritime Area. Many formerly industrial stretches of the waterfront were being converted to non-industrial and non-maritime uses, and the most appropriate areas for conversion were designated in the Waterfront Plan for development. There were two major reasons for preserving Erie Basin as a Significant Industrial and Maritime Area. First, Erie Basin is the only fully protected deep-water facility along the Brooklyn waterfront and therefore ideal for a number of maritime uses including shipping, and boat repair. Secondly, the Department anticipated that areas with deep-water access such as Erie Basin would be needed in the future for shipping, the installation of waste facilities, and other water-dependent uses.
16. As a result of the four-year process of discussing the Plan, consensus emerged to agree to the official designation of Erie Basin as a Significant Industrial and Maritime Area. The 197-a Committee of CB 6 came to the conclusion that other areas along the Red Hook waterfront would be more appropriate for non-industrial and non-maritime uses. It was specifically recommended in the original 197-a Plan document that residential zoning be extended to the waterfront only at Van Brunt Street.
17. The City Planning Commission modified the Plan in several major respects, but did not change the recommendations for maintaining Erie Basin as an industrial and maritime area. The Commission noted that the Plan required the assistance of City agencies and other entities in implementation, and it called on the Borough President to spearhead coordination of the implementation. The Commission scaled back the Plan’s recommendation for new housing units, and eliminated a provision that would have provided capital funding for jobs training. It deleted the recommendations for new truck routes and changed some of the zoning recommendations in a way that did not significantly affect the overall objectives, principles, and land use patterns in the Plan.
18. When the CPC approved the zoning change and special permits that would allow the IKEA Retail Center to locate on the New York Shipyard site in the Erie Basin, it explained its deviation from the approved 197-a Plan by saying that the IKEA Retail Center is "consistent with a number of the goals expressed in these documents," including waterfront access, promoting economic development, improving transportation access and circulation, and supporting maritime industrial use of the waterfront. Exhibit , pp. 42-43. However, a large retail establishment is not an industrial use, it shifts the character of Red Hook perceptibly towards commercialization, it does not derive any benefit from its waterfront location, its support of maritime use is miniscule compared to its impact in replacing such uses, and the improved transportation access will be only on weekends and for the benefit of the store. The CPC apparently concluded that any development that will improve the property and create jobs is better than no development.
19. The IKEA proposal ignored the 197-a Plan for Red Hook. After the Plan was approved by the CPC and the City Council, the City took no responsibility for implementing it. It was put on a shelf and forgotten. Once the IKEA proposal came along, the City should have redirected IKEA to downtown locations where the transit infrastructure is adequate, and preserved this section of the Red Hook waterfront for industrial and maritime uses.
20. The CPC has consistently flaunted other 197-a plans, violating its most fundamental Charter responsibility to develop and approve plans that guide the use of land in the City. The CPC approved the Greenpoint 197-a Plan and Williamsburg 197-a Plan in 2001, yet in 2004 issued a proposal for rezoning of these communities that explicitly violates the principles of mixed use, contextual waterfront development enunciated in those plans. In these cases and in Red Hook, it is not a question of the CPC changing its mind or making a serious evaluation that circumstances had changed. The CPC’s own avowals that they considered the plans and believed that their most recent actions were consistent with the plans were the result of a failure to seriously analyze and evaluate the plans. They simply put the plans on a shelf and ignored them, all the while making public statements that they had considered the plans to cover for their lack of rigor as professional planners, their arbitrary actions, and their capricious disregard for established planning policies.
Sworn to before me this day of February 2005