By Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech
The city’s uniform land review process, otherwise known as ULURP, will start up again after being suspended in mid-March during the novel coronavirus pandemic, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Wednesday.
The City Planning Commission will start holding meetings digitally in August with its first review session scheduled for Aug. 3 followed by a public meeting on Aug. 5. August meetings will include actions on development projects not subject to the ULURP process and ULURP projects that were already in the public review process before in person meetings were put on hold on March 16, according to the mayor’s office.
August meetings will include discussions and Department of City Planning presentations on development projects set to begin this fall. Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Executive Roder suspending the ULURP “clock” will not officially be lifted until September, according to City Hall.
The “staggered” restart is meant to help ensure that New York City’s 59 community boards, which must follow the ULURP timeline but do not meet during the summer months, are “ready to host remote public meetings as soon as the clock restarts,” a statement from de Blasio’s office says. “The Department of City Planning will be working with the boards to assist with training needs.”
“Manhattan’s community boards have done a great job at holding remote meetings–some have seen much more public comment compared to in-person meetings,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. “I believe that these boards will be ready to take part in the ULURP process and I am eager to see that happen. Getting these projects into the public review process not only ensures that our City can be on track to a steady recovery from COVID-19 and all its effects but also helps to get public benefits–including housing, community and open space–to our neighborhoods.”
The new normal of ULURP will also require that the agency post public draft agendas for upcoming meetings to the DCP website days before meetings take place. CPC meetings will also need to follow meet a quorum and New Yorkers wishing to testify during a hearing must sign-in just like they would at an in-person meeting.
The city has launched a web portal, NYC Engage, to allow New Yorkers to view and speak during public meetings held by city agencies.
“Public oversight is the backbone of our land use review procedure and it’s key to guaranteeing communities have a say in shaping their future,” said City Councilmember Francisco Moya, chair of the land use subcommittee on zoning and franchises. ” I look forward to seeing this democratic process pick up where we left off.”