Community Board 9 Drama Over Rezoning PLG and South Crown Heights May Start Up Again Soon

Empire Boulevard in 2014. Photo by Cate Corcoran

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A group of residents are looking to stop what they view as a potentially harmful land use study in their community.

The Movement to Protect the People, or MTOPP, led by local activist Alicia Boyd, sent out an email last week urging followers to attend Community Board 9’s ULURP Committee meeting on February 13 at the Carroll Gardens Community Center in order to prevent a study that would lead to rezoning.

CB9 includes Prospect–Lefferts Gardens, parts of Flatbush and the southern half of Crown Heights.

After years of opposing zoning studies, MTOPP claims Community Board 9 is again looking to request a zoning study.

What the group is arguing is that these types of studies by the Department of City Planning, and the rezoning that is typically the outcome, can be harmful to communities of color. The group claims that blocks where people of color reside are more susceptible to upzoning than blocks where whites reside, and upzoning leads to displacement of people of color.

cb9 rezoning

Alicia Boyd at a CB9 meeting in 2015. Photo by Cate Corcoran

MTOPP is also angling to get CB9’s new chair, Musa Moore, off the board. They said in the email:

Sign our petition to get Musa Moore, a Real Estate Lobbyist off of our board! This rezoning request is being fueled by the developers who have been buying property all along the perimeter of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and this rezoning will allow them to build from 15 to 40 stories in a currently height restricted area of 6/7 stories.

Boyd is a controversial figure, with numerous supporters and detractors and a long history of disrupting and attacking CB9, as well as serving as a watchdog.

Since she founded MTOPP in 2014, she has been a persistent and brash presence at community board meetings, more than once having to be escorted off the premises by police, and has filed multiple lawsuits against the board. Thanks to Boyd, a vote in favor of requesting a zoning study was recounted, changing the vote from a yes to a no.

cb9 rezoning empire boulevard

Housing on Empire Boulevard near Rogers Avenue in 2017. Photo by Susan De Vries

A lawsuit filed by Boyd in the summer of 2016 led to a judge voiding the hiring of the community board district manager on grounds that the process moved forward “without following the board’s by-laws for forming a search committee and without proper notification to the community about the administrative job opening and its $100,000-per-year salary,” according to a report in DNAinfo in October 2017.

Detractors say Boyd’s true aim is to prevent a residential rezoning of Empire Boulevard, in the hopes of staving off high-rise construction next to her home, at any cost — leaving the rest of the neighborhood vulnerable to outsize construction.

If MTOPP’s email is any indication, a conclusion to this long fight is far from being reached.

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