It's time to rezone the Bronx


To the editor:

The Bronx is the fastest-growing county in New York.

Sounds wonderful. Unless you live here. Maybe if you own a business here, but don’t live here.

If you do live here, it means that nice little house or bit of fresh air-producing woods next door is being bulldozed to put in 30 units or a high-rise. And the roads are being jackhammered to put in more sewers or water pipes or lights, or electrical wires or roads to handle ever more traffic.

And the schools are more crowded. And the air’s not as clean. And it’s hotter. It’s louder. And your taxes are going up to pay for more police, fire, schools, sewers, roads. And your property value’s going down.

It’s time to rezone the Bronx.

Ask around. Are any Bronxites celebrating the “fastest growing” title? Maybe developers who live out of town, and donate to the politicians that sell us out by allowing this insane overdevelopment. They are celebrating. They exploit the beauty of the place, and in the process, destroy it.

This is overseen and encouraged by unelected city planners, quietly appointed by a mayor who gets most of his money from big real estate corporations.

I voted for him, but had no idea how much he wanted to build. No one did, except maybe donors. And his opponent was no better.

There are many trying to protect their neighborhood from over-development. But they must face well-funded, out-of-towner developers whose only interest in the Bronx is to leave with as much money as they can and never visit again. The ultimate costs of their building will be borne by those who live here, forever, in quality-of-life.

Even with hundreds of neighbors on your side, the city planning department will probably side with out-of-towners, citing old developer-written laws. Just walk around. Nobody’s preserving any open space.

For example, everyone who lives near Brust Park in Riverdale and Kingsbridge wants to protect it from an oversized 30-unit project that will destroy its ecology, reduce open space, and increase traffic. But city planning is pushing ahead anyway despite what the community wants, as evidenced by a 1,000-signature petition and many local leaders saying no.

Why do we allow this? This is happening all over the Bronx.

Zoning laws were written long ago by people who favored this exploitation. That little house sits on an R-6-zoned lot, and so is destined to potentially house a thousand people someday. You’d think our homeless problem would be solved, right? Wrong.

The secret of real estate is it isn’t really about housing more people. It’s about investment. A bigger apartment is worth more and will probably grow in value while bank deposits won’t. Own three if you can!

Many of the new apartments are empty or only occasionally occupied. In the past, the investment’s paid off. There’s no guarantee that will continue, with the bankruptcy laws, tax laws, and friends in high places — chances are the large international speculators will be fine when the market crashes.

The locals — those of us who don’t find ourselves over-leveraged and homeless — will be trying to move someplace less crowded, if we haven’t already, to the next over-development.

Maybe Westchester.

It’s time to rezone the Bronx. And this time Bronxites — not just big real estate corporations — must write the laws.

Jim Wacker

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Jim Wacker,