Heckling (followed by civility) was alive and well at last night's Community Board 3 meeting at Cooper Union. Wearing "Please IMPROVE the Plan!" stickers, East Village and Lower East Side residents interrupted Department of City Planning Commissioner representatives as they presented a plan for the area's first rezoning since 1961 ("Define affordable," shouted one audience member - $56,000 for a family of four, in case you're wondering, and, no, they didn't have numbers for individuals).

The plan proposes a height cap of eight stories for residential and twelve stories on commercial buildings along main thoroughfares like East Houston, Delancey and others. It also continues the city's controversial Inclusionary Housing Program that recently was implemented in Williamsburg and Greenpoint to mixed reviews.

At 11th Street and Avenue A, for example, expect eight-story residential and six-story mixed-use buildings (under current zoning laws, developers can build 32 and 19 stories, respectively). At Ludlow near Rivington, expect eight- and six-story buildings (compared to the 18- and nine-story buildings now allowed). At Ludlow and Delancey, zoned for commercial, expect twelve-story buildings (compared to the 18 and 19 story buildings now allowed - as long as developers allocate 20 percent of the project for affordable housing units). Currently, the area has no building height caps.

Community members said the plan doesn't go far enough to protect their low-rise, mixed-income neighborhood from rampant development and displacement. The plan's exclusion of Third and Fourth Avenues "encourages 26-story dorms," said Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation Director Andrew Berman. They pleaded, too, for an anti-harassment and demolition provision to prevent landlords and developers from falsely evicting tenants and tearing down lower buildings so they can build up.

The zoning plan will go through the city's ULURP process, including an environmental impact study and more neighborhood input.

For more, read the NY Post, NY Sun and The Villager.