Gotham Gazette

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New York City Council Stated Meeting Report

Every two weeks the New York City Council meets for its Stated Meeting to introduce and pass legislation. As a regular feature, Searchlight covers these meetings and posts a summary of the bills passed.

STATED MEETING - December 3, 2003

Quote of the Day:

"Nothing threatens the quality of life on Staten Island more than the reckless, unplanned overdevelopment that we have experienced over the last 25 years." - Councilmember Andrew Lanza, voting in favor of a major overhaul of the zoning laws in Staten Island.

Meeting Summary:

On December 3, the New York City Council unanimously approved a major rezoning for nearly half of the residential neighborhoods in Staten Island. The plan aims to preserve the borough's "suburban neighborhood character" by slowing housing construction, limiting the number of apartment buildings that can be built, and protecting open space, yards, and trees.

The legislation was submitted by Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro and a task force appointed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to address issues of overdevelopment pushed the plan through the city's process in less than four months. (Read the full press release from the mayor's office.)

The population of Staten Island has increased 20 percent since 1990 and, with a growing demand for housing, officials say many single-family homes have been torn down and multiple unit apartment buildings have been put in their place.

"The rules that govern building... are outdated, antiquated, and ineffective," said Staten Island Councilmember James Oddo. "When you see these homes being torn down, you have to do something."

The zoning changes will affect 40 percent of the borough's residential neighborhoods. They also:
- Require space between buildings
- Mandate the size of the yard around a house
- Require that trees be planted in new developments
- Limit the height of additions built onto the top of houses
- Require adequate parking in the area
- And restrict the building of private roads.

The zoning changes passed by a vote of 48 to 0 and will take effect immediately.

Some council members from other neighborhoods, particularly Queens, are hoping that similar zoning reform will occur elsewhere in the city.

"This shows a commitment to preserve our neighborhoods and their characteristics," said Queens Councilmember Melinda Katz, who chairs the land use committee.

The next Stated Meeting is scheduled for December 11.

For an archive of past meetings and council votes, visit Gotham Gazette's Searchlight.