CB6 Committee Votes In Favor Of New Methodist Plans, But With Conditions

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Hospital rendering via Methodist

The latest round of revised expansion plans from New York Methodist Hospital got the thumbs up at a meeting on Monday of the Community Board 6 Landmarks/Land Use Committee, but not without some conditions.

You can see some updated renderings and FAQs at the Methodist site. The CB6 committee’s main concern is still the height of the new building, though it also lists traffic and parking among its concerns. The committee voted 10 in favor, 5 against, with 1 abstention, to adopt the following motion:

In light of the new information and additional proposed design changes presented by New York Methodist (NYM) following the public hearing on November 21, 2013 and the Landmark/Land Use Committee’s vote to provisionally recommend disapproval of the requested variances, the Committee now moves for a resolution that Brooklyn Community Board 6 (CB6) recommend to Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) that the variances be conditionally approved and granted, subject to the following conditions:

1) R6 Zoning District: In the R6 zoning district (on 6th St), that the variances for front wall height, setbacks, sky exposure planes, rear yard equivalents, rear setbacks and lot coverage be granted only if the final building design limits the building height to no greater than the height of a complying development in that district.

2) R7B Zoning District: In the R7B zoning district (corner of 8th Ave and 5th St), that the variances for lot coverage, rear yard setbacks and floor area distribution across district lines be granted only if the final building design is in compliance with the height and setback limitations for the district, as shown in the new renderings presented on January 6, 2014.

3) R6B Zoning District: In the R6B zoning district (mid-block on 5th St), that the variances for lot coverage, rear yard equivalents, rear setbacks and floor area distribution across district lines be granted only if the final building design (i) further reduces the base/streetwall height and building height in that district to significantly lower levels than presented, and (ii) maintains at least the additional setback shown in the new renderings presented on January 6, 2014. In this connection, CB6 commends NYM for its good faith steps to reduce the bulk of the building in the portion that covers that zoning district. However, CB6 does not believe NYM has fully met its burden with respect to the variance factors of impact on the essential character of the neighborhood and minimum necessary variance as they pertain to the upper floors of the proposed building within the R6B district, when those factors are considered in the context of the 2003 Rezoning of Park Slope that imposed R6B limitations for mid-block residential districts in order to preserve the built form of the residential community.

4) Certificate of Need: That NYM commits to providing notice to CB6 of their future NYSDOH Certificate of Need (CON) application at the time that it is filed, along with a copy of the application and a letter summarizing how the CON specifically demonstrates that the granting of these variances will provide the minimum necessary for an efficient and effective ambulatory care facility as designed and envisioned by NYM.

5) Long Range Plan: That NYM commits to the development of a long-range plan which considers the long term needs and objectives of the hospital over the next 20 years at a minimum, and how the hospital intends to meet those needs and objectives in a manner that is both inclusive and respectful of the Park Slope community.

6) Signage: That any variance relating to signage be limited to the square footage specified for each sign in the revised plans submitted to BSA on December 20, 2013 rather than the larger square footage amounts in the original application.

7) 8th Avenue Entrance: That NYM confirm its commitment to limit the usage of the entrance at 8th Avenue and 6th Street in the manner described at the public hearing on November 21, i.e., only for employee use and emergency egress, plus entrance to the Urgent Care facility only during late afternoon and evening hours, and commits that this restriction will take the form of a restrictive covenant.

8) Parking: That NYM follows through on its commitment to reduce the total number of parking spaces in the combined existing and proposed parking facilities by at least 189 spaces, while leaving some margin over current projected demand to absorb future growth. CB6 further urges that NYM commit to use some or all of the savings from such reduction to fund programs that will reduce hospital staff commutation by auto, such as free or subsidized transit passes and shuttle service from transit hubs and off-site parking facilities.

9) Traffic Task Force: That NYM commits to continue its participation on an open-ended basis in the Traffic Task Force organized by Councilmember Lander’s office, and to collaborate with the community, CB6, and relevant City agencies to address transportation impacts on the community, including further consideration and implementation of measures designed to significantly reduce the amount of vehicular traffic generated by the new facility and/or by existing hospital programs. NYM should further commit to conduct a full scale traffic study as well as a redo of the relevant transportation and environmental portions of the Environmental Assessment Study (EAS) with respect to the final approved development, one (1) year after the new building(s) are in full operation, to determine how traffic is flowing to the new building and whether any problems need to be corrected.

10) Design Discussions: That NYM commits to continue participating in design discussions with the Park Slope Civic Council, CB6, and other concerned members of the community as a means to work toward consensus-building on building design issues, including facade designs, exterior materials and treatments, landscaping and signage, with the goal of achieving a design that is less imposing and blends in better with the lower rise nature of the Park Slope area. Resumption of such discussions should occur immediately and should not await completion of the BSA process.

11) Construction Task Force: That NYM commits to participate fully in, and to direct its contractor to participate fully in, a community advisory task force hosted/chaired by CB6 concerning impacts of the demolition and construction phase of the project, which would meet on a monthly basis and more frequently as needed, until the completion of the project. Furthermore, that NYM should provide a letter to CB6 affirming their commitment to this prior to the general meeting on January 8, 2014.

The motion will be discussed and voted on by the full Community Board at its monthly meeting tonight, Wednesday, January 8 at 6:30pm at the School for International Studies, 284 Baltic Street.

The Community Board’s input is merely advisory, however — the Board of Standard and Appeals can take it into consideration, but can approve or deny the hospital’s plans on its own.

Rendering via Methodist

  • ParkSlopePerson

    Are the Barnes and Noble building and the underground parking garage staying???

  • Scooby Doosh

    why would the CB want to reduce the number of parking spaces? it will just force more drivers to endlessly circle the surrounding area in a neighborhood already suffering from a dearth of parking. ridiculous.

    • Sloper

      More parking = more traffic. It’s called induced demand. If people know there is going to be a parking spot, they will drive. Actually, what will probably happen is that people who aren’t in a rush will drive and look for free on-street parking and use the huge garage as their backup plan if they don’t find anything or if they run out of time before their appointment.

      So by reducing the parking you convince more people to not try their luck and take the subway or a car service instead. (One reason I never drive from the Slope to, say, Brooklyn Heights is because I know parking is hard to find there.)

      The goal is to reduce the number of car trips to the neighborhood, since the moving traffic and all that circling has bad effects on air quality, pedestrian safety, congestion for other drivers, etc.

      Plus, a huge parking garage in the center of Park Slope would be wildly out of character with the neighborhood.

      • Scooby Doosh

        the goal is understood but ambitious at best & very naive. “free on street parking” is virtually non-existent in the surrounding area & you know it. the meters run all of 7 ave and 1/4 the way up the side streets, with 1 hour limits. what’s left over you get by being very lucky. the traffic impact will be a nightmare for local businesses & residents. non neighborhood people coming to the hospital won’t have a clue about the parking situation & just drive over & and circle. as far as convincing people not to drive from neighborhoods where their hospital has closed or are underserved by mass transit, ain’t go hapn. the result will be a gridlock shitshow loudly lamented by the stroller brigade when they try to navigate the crowded intersections and/or their little prodigies try to walk to the various schools in the area. as for a huge garage being out of character, if they add a “cute” facade and some commercial space no one will care.

  • ParkSlopePerson

    Again, the underground garage that is there now, is staying, correct???

  • ParkSlopePerson

    Ugh, reduce current and future parking spaces by 189? I pray that means the above ground lot i being closed up and that they aren’t touching the underground lot that doesn’t bother anyone.

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