In unprecedented move, Bronx Community Board 10 Executive Member Marjorie Velazquez urges board's inclusion in ULURP zoning process for proposed $200 million shopping center development under consideration by neighboring Community Board 12
Velazquez cites potential traffic and quality of life impacts to surrounding community, opposition by local residents
Velazquez: We deserve to have a voice
Amid contentious debate over a planned shopping development at a former state-owned property in the Baychester section of the Bronx, Community Board 10 Executive Member Marjorie Velazquez is once again taking the unprecedented step of calling for her board to have a say in a zoning vote on the project in neighboring Community Board 12 in the coming months. The City Council's Land Use Committee today held a hearing on the project.
In announcing her request, Velazquez is pointing to potential traffic jams at the site and quality of life concerns raised by local residents critical of the project.
"Any potential impact from the Baychester Square development doesn't stop at the border between community boards," said Community Board 10 Executive Member Marjorie Velazquez. "This project could increase traffic for a borough already starved for transportation options, and negatively affect quality of life for our families. We deserve to have a voice."
At issue is a $200 million, 350,000 square-foot development proposed for a former Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) property across Interstate 95 from the Bay Plaza Shopping Center. The development, called Baychester Square, would include at least 40 stores, a senior housing building with 170 units, and parking space for some 1,200 cars.
Under the current proposal, the development exceeds current zoning for the site and therefore went through the city's Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP). After that, the project went to the local Community Board 12 for a vote, and it was approved. However, under the current ULURP procedure, it does not allow for other Community Boards - namely Community Board 10 - to have a voice in the decision, though the project will directly affect its district.
This has Velazquez concerned about the lack of input on the project by Community Board 10, which borders Board 12 and which she sits on as an Executive Member and Treasurer. Velazquez pointed out that the Baychester Square site sits opposite multiple commercial developments in an area with limited public transit options and borders Co-Op city, the largest cooperative housing development in the world.
Velazquez contends that this has the potential to greatly increase traffic both around the site and in neighboring Board 10, negatively impacting families' quality of life. These concerns are shared by local residents, who have banded together to voice their opposition to the plan.
In response, Velazquez is urging the city to allow Community Board 10 weigh in on the ULURP process. Velazquez also intends to highlight the issue in her campaign for the City Council's 13th District. As a candidate, Velazquez has pushed for improved public transportation for communities long considered a transit desert. For Velazquez, traffic and transportation issues are central to the longterm economic growth of the Bronx.
"We can't continue to develop and build without considering the transportation needs of our community. This is the key to encouraging economic growth, and this is what I will advocate for as our next city council member," concluded Velazquez.