The mayor’s proposal to allow the public a 30-day period to challenge new construction projects was unanimously rejected by Community Board 10 at its monthly full-board meeting held at St. Peter’s Church on Thursday, February 19.
Instead, the board plans to advocate the Department of Buildings to expand the comment period to 90 days.
Under the DOB’s current plan, detailed architectural renderings will now be posted on the agency’s website so that the public can better understand what the new buildings will look like. However, many in the community are still concerned by the program’s short reponse time.
“Posting building plans on the Internet for all to see is the good part, but putting a 30-day lock on any public criticism is ridiculous,” said CB 10 member Andrew Chirico.
Chirico pointed out problems with the Finkle Estate project in Country Club. At 1 – 5 Teddy Place, zoning irregularities were discovered only after much of the construction was already completed. Now the five, 1-family homes do not comply with the area’s stringent R-2 zoning and are 80% completed.
“The Mayor is trying to solve a problem by putting a statute of limitations on the community, instead of encouraging communities to get involved,” said CB 10 member Mary Jane Musano.
However, the DOB refutes this argument, countering that the new measures will add more transparency to the process.
“Part of the purpose of this program is to give more information earlier in the process, so the community can have a better idea of what a new building will look like,” said DOB spokesman Anthony Sclafani. “People can now issue a challenge even if a building is very close to completion. Most of those challenges could have been resolved earlier in the process.”
Sclafani said that the community would now have a simplified, three-dimensional rendering giving it a degree of certainty, while builders would know that after a certain date they would be free of any hindrances to completing their projet.
“This is designed to reduce the number of repeated challenges,” Sclafani said. “On our website, we will also post every challenge and our responses – something that has never been done before.”