Gotham Gazette

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Council Increases Penalty for Dumping

Photo (cc) 2007 andyj682

Dumping in any New York City waterway is about to cost more than environmental quality.

It's going to cost money.

The City Council unanimously approved legislation Wednesday that creates a civil penalty dumping in the city's rivers, creeks or canals. Anyone found guilty of dumping in a city waterway could receive a fine between $1,500 and $10,000 for a first violation. Dumping in the city's waters already carries a criminal penalty.

In addition, the council approved legislation to streamline the process of getting green technology in buildings and a bill to formalize the replacement of trees on pubic property.

Increasing Fines for Waterway Dumping

Whether it’s tossing trash along the bank of the East River or abandoning your boat in Jamaica Bay, the city can not now invoke a civil penalty for dumping in waterways. The only civil penalty for waterfront dumping up until now, said Council Speaker Christine Quinn, is if someone throws something into a waterway from a car.

The bill (Intro 54) the council approved Wednesday would make the city's regulations more consistent, said Quinn.

"What we have in the city of New York is a set of waterfront pollution regulations that are unfortunately inconsistent, full of loopholes and not fully enforceable," said Quinn.

In addition to expanding the city's dumping fines, the legislation would give the departments of sanitation and environmental protection the power to enforce the law. Before this bill, the Department of Small Business Services was the only agency that could enforce waterfront penalties.

Greener Building

The council also approved legislation (Intro 77) that establishes an "interagency green team" within the Department of Buildings to assist residents, contractors and developers navigating the city's permitting and regulatory process for green technology projects. The team was first announced in Quinn's State of the City address last month and is charged with streamlining the city's regulations for green building.

It will include representatives from the buildings, environmental protection, transportation, design and construction and health and mental hygiene departments as well as the City Planning Commission.

The bill, which was approved unanimously, also sets up an innovation review board to review projects that employ new technologies and recommend when these technologies should be used by the city.

Both boards hope to elevate New York City's standing in emerging technology market sectors.

Removing Trees

The council also approved legislation (Intro 4 ) that creates a process for removing and replacing trees on public property.

Under the current law, property owners can be fined $100,000 if they remove a tree on public property to, say, make room for a driveway.

Under the legislation, which was approved unanimously, a person who wants to remove a tree from public property would have to get a permit and pay a replacement tree fee based national standards. If the person replace the tree, the Department of Parks and Recreation will reimburse the fee.

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