New Clinton Hill Charter School Wins Community Board Support

The charter school planned for Clinton Avenue faced some concerns about its industrial space, but was ultimately approved by the local board

A new charter school is proposed for 30 Clinton Ave. (Barone Management)

CLINTON HILL, BROOKLYN — A new charter school planned for Clinton Avenue has won the support of the full local community board.

Community Board 2 members supported the recommendation of their Land Use Committee to approve the school’s application by a vote of 27 in favor, seven opposed and six abstaining, district manager Rob Perris said.

The approval is the second round of community support the school has received since it was proposed for the 30 Clinton Avenue site, which will become the space for a custom five-story building for International Charter Schools. ICS currently teaches its more than 350 elementary students from two temporary locations in Downtown Brooklyn.

Perris said there was some discussion about the decision at Wednesday’s meeting, but that the concerns brought up echoed some of those discussed at the committee level.

“The principal concern seemed to be the possible, residual environmental hazards from past industrial use,” Perris said. “The Land Use Committee did ask for some additional environmental investigation and prior to the meeting the applicant’s team provided some additional information.”

The school developers, which are applying for a special permit to build at the property since it is designated as a manufacturing zone, had been asked by the committee specifically about the air quality at the site since it is close to the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, Scott Barone of Barone Management said.

The application already included air quality monitoring required for the special permit that showed is well inside the acceptable levels, Barone said, but on Wednesday developers said they would still do additional physical tests at the property to ensure its safety. They also agreed to use high-efficiency filters instead of standard filters for the school’s air system when it is built.

“That was really one of two concerns the board had overall, so we figured, let’s go over the top to make sure everyone sees that we are committed to building a quality school,” he said. “We wanted to go way above and beyond.”

The few Land Use Committee members that voted against the proposal and those concerned at the full-board level have said that they believe these zones should be used only for industrial or manufacturing uses. They also worried about the safety of having students in an industrial area with a high amount of traffic.

In addition to the air quality, developers have said that safety concerns were the focus of an expert analysis submitted to the Department of Transportation and the Department of Environmental Protection.

ICS Executive Director Matthew Levey has also contended that the school will not hinder the manufacturing uses of the area because it will not permanently change the district’s zoning.

Barone Management plan to build a 50,000-square-foot building for ICS including a gym, playground, cafeteria, media center and roof garden. Should the application be approved by the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals, International Charter School could move into the building as early as August 2021.

Levey has said the custom building will not only let International Charter School grow, but also help staff and students who have been struggling to work out of its two temporary locations. The school will expand to 725 children kindergarten through eighth grade in the new space.