New DOB Rules Spark Protest
July 10th, 2009
But as part of that rule, the public will be limited to comment on those approvals for only 45 days. Public comment is now unlimited.
What the buildings department says is streamlining the development process and will encourage public comment, advocates and elected officials charge that the public’s voice is being silenced.
At a rally this afternoon, mayoral candidate Tony Avella, comptroller candidate John Liu and public advocate candidate Norman Siegel, as well as the Queens Civic Congress and the Historic Districts Council, blasted the administration for the rule change. They urged the department to rescind its plan or to prepare for an arduous court battle.
“It’s a disgrace that people in their own city have a deadline to complain about out of character development,” said Avella.
In a release announcing the new rules, which when first proposed included only a 30-day comment period, the department argues:
“The 45-day public-challenge process establishes an organized procedure to challenge the Departmentís zoning decisions, and the Departmentís responses to those challenges will be posted online for the first time. The current process, which has no formal timeframe, often produces confusion and unnecessary and unintended costs for development. The online diagrams and new challenge process will streamline the review of the thousands of challenges the Department receives each year Ė at no additional cost to the City.”
But advocates say the new rule is obstructionist and could, Siegel hypothesizes, lead to more structurally unsound buildings. They argue a community should be able to raise an unlimited amount of complaints regarding a neighborhood development. The community, they say, are the watchdogs and limiting their comment period is putting developers first.
“It’s no different than seeing a dead body and its been lying there for 30 days, and the police don’t have to do anything about it,” said James Trent, the president of the Four Borough Neighborhood Alliance Foundation.
Under the new rules, the builders will be required to post a permit at the site within three days of its approval. From the date of approval, the public will have 45 days to challenge the development. If it does challenge, then the buildings department will review those challenges and determine whether they are founded. If they are founded, the builder could be issued a stop work order.By Courtney Gross on July 10, 2009, 4:54 pm
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