SPEAKER COREY JOHNSON “100% SUPPORTS” REZONING OF MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS – COMMITS CITY COUNCIL LAND USE STAFF AND RESOURCES
“I LOOK FORWARD TO WORKING WITH ALL OF YOU, WITH THIS AMAZING COMMUNITY, WITH COUNCIL MEMBER MARK LEVINE, TO GET THIS DONE.”
At the September 19 MHCC Town Hall Meeting at Corpus Christi Church, nearly 150 Morningside Heights community members were jubilant over City Council Speaker Johnson’s announcement to commit City Council resources towards rezoning our neighborhood, and that Mayor De Blasio had rescinded a prior letter from the Department of City Planning which had declined its support for the rezoning.
Speaker Johnson told the gathered crowd: “So your Council Member (Levine) proposed to me …’would it be possible that the City Council hire an outside consultant, use existing staff within the City Council, use the Land Use staff within the City Council, to do all the work that City Planning is supposed to do, and all the things that happen through a rezoning, and I said “YES.”
Council Member Levine in response said: “I’ve spent years fighting to update the zoning for Morningside Heights, which is half a century out of date, and leaves loopholes for developers to build widely out-of-scale towers that tear at the fabric of our community. The importance of Speaker Johnson’s leadership in this fight can’t be overstated: we finally have a real chance to protect our vulnerable neighborhood.”
Speaker Johnson also acknowledged the balanced approach of the community in his remarks, saying “One of the things I find most interesting and wonderful about the work that has been done here by this Coalition (MHCC) is that…you came together and said ‘let’s figure out a thoughtful, responsible way to have smart growth, real growth that works for the community. Let’s do something that makes sense, to protect the mid-block, add a little more density on the avenues, let’s get some upgrades to the subway stations for accessibility, and that’s a sensible way to handle this area that was left out of other rezonings’ (referring to the surrounding already rezoned neighborhoods)…”And that’s what this plan is. And so, I want to let you know that I 100% support this community’s plan for this rezoning, and if there is anything you want me to do, I will.”
“The Council will be sort of the main partner with you moving forward, working hand in glove,” the Speaker went on to say, “to make sure we are getting the answers that are needed, and we will prepare all the documents, all the research, all the environmental work, do all the work that needs to get done.”
Manhattan Community Board 9 Chair Barry Weinberg, a member of the MHCC Executive Committee, praised the Speaker’s commitment, saying, “Community Board 9 has been fighting for a rezoning of Morningside Heights for decades. Our community is grateful to City Council Speaker Johnson and Councilmember Levine’s commitment to contextually rezone Morningside Heights using City Council resources if necessary. We look forward to working with MHCC and the Council to pass a zoning that will keep Morningside affordable and human-scale.”
In addition to Council Member Levine, other elected officials spoke in support of the Speaker’s plan at the MHCC Town Hall Meeting – Manhattan Boro President Gale Brewer, State Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell, and State Senator Brian Benjamin.
MHCC has been at the forefront of the proposal to rezone Morningside Heights for the past three years. We look forward to working with Speaker Johnson, Council Member Levine, our other local elected officials, Council staff, and consulting support to ensure a reasonable zoning solution that promotes a diverse and thriving future for Morningside Heights.
We invite members of the community to stay engaged as this important initiative proceeds.