EDITOR’S NOTE: The following letter was addressed to Councilman Andrew Cohen about his position on proposed changes to the Special Natural Area District in the Bronx.
Dear Councilman Cohen:
It’s been more than a month since we last heard from you in regards to the city planning department’s proposal to amend the Special Natural Area District zoning regulations, at the June 28 community board meeting at which the board rejected their opportunity to vote on a proposal they consider illegitimate.
At this meeting, you publicly acknowledged:
You have received many emails from the community regarding SNAD. You stated that you will continue to be transparent and keep the board updated on how the SNAD text changes proceeds.
You stated that you believed that everyone agrees that SNAD needs changes, such as enforcement and preservation, and that you believe that the city planning department has treated Community Board 8 very poorly.
You were missed at the public hearing at the office of the borough president on July 11, attended by members of the community board, representatives from local organizations, and residents who took time off from the work or from their daily lives to attend a meeting that they felt committed enough to carve out time to attend.
The representatives from the borough president were extremely impressed by the public attendance, in spite of the inconvenience of the date and time. In addition, the borough president’s office received approximately a hundred submissions of written testimony by those attending and those unable to attend.
Was yours among the submissions?
We do not see any recent references to SNAD on your Facebook page, or any statements of substance on Twitter. And the last time you made any statements as to SNAD in The Riverdale Press was on June 2. We wonder why SNAD seems to be such a low priority for you, since it seems to be such a high priority for the community, including those living outside of the SNAD.
We wonder why you fail to call out the lack of procedural fairness by the city planning department in the firmer and more definitive language that seems to be the consensus of the community.
The Bronx borough president has rejected the proposal, saying that the community board was “not afforded sufficient chance to review the document … how am I able to take into consideration all viewpoints that may advise my recommendations?
Our elected official, Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., has done his part for Riverdale by voting no on this proposal. Likewise, we hope you seize this opportunity to show the community where you truly stand as to SNAD, and that place is the same place as the constituents you represent, before the city planning commission meets on Aug. 14.
Once again, we request that you publicly withdraw your support for the SNAD proposal, and ask city planning to begin the process of SNAD review again so that this time, the community is afforded their democratically guaranteed opportunity for informed input and review.
Thank you for your representation of the community of Riverdale.
Stephanie Coggins, Sura Jeselsohn