Plan to allow public challenges of as-of- right permits effective July 13. After a public hearing, Buildings adopted a final rule for public challenges to zoning approvals that goes into effect on July 13, 2009.
Under the new development challenge process, architects and engineers applying for new building permits or alteration permits involving the exterior of existing buildings must submit a new zoning diagram, called a ZD1, to Buildings. The ZD1 will provide detailed project information, including to-scale drawings, use details, and the project’s position on the street. Buildings will post the diagrams on its website, triggering a public review period in which the public may contest zoning decisions. Buildings originally proposed a 30-day public challenge period, but after considering public comments, extended the period to 45 days.
At the conclusion of the 45-day review period, the Borough Commissioner will review all challenges, render decisions, and make the challenges and decisions available on Buildings’ website. If the Borough Commissioner denies a challenge, the public will have 15 days to appeal the decision to Buildings’ technical affairs unit.
If the Borough Commissioner finds a challenge valid, Buildings will issue a notice of intent to revoke the zoning approval, along with a list of objections. Buildings can reverse its notice to revoke if the developer later satisfies all the objections. This reversal is appealable to the technical affairs unit, within 15 days, or directly to BSA.
The rule states that the issuance or revocation of a permit may be appealed to BSA. In addition, in cases where Buildings has issued a permit, a denial of a challenge by the Borough Commissioner or the technical affairs unit will be considered a final determination that may be appealed to BSA.
If a developer amends approved zoning documents for reasons other than addressing zoning objections, Buildings’ approval of any amendment will be subject to the initial 45-day challenge period. Also, under the final rule, developers must post any permits at the work site within three days of issuance, but no later than the commencement of work.
A currently filed job is exempt if a developer has paid appropriate fees and Buildings has deemed it ready for initial plan examination before July 13.
City Record, June 9, 2009 at 2446.