Council considers Landmarks- Buildings coordination

Proposed law would prevent owners from undermining designation process. On October 23, 2007, the City Council’s Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Siting & Maritime Uses heard testimony regarding a law that would protect buildings throughout the landmark designation process.

The proposed law, introduced by Council Member Rosie Mendez, would prevent owners from altering or demolishing a potential landmark before it can be officially designated as such by Landmarks. Under the proposed law, Landmarks would inform the Department of Buildings of any property that it intends to schedule for designation. Buildings would then notify Landmarks whenever it receives permit applications for work involving the potential landmark.

The proposed law would also protect buildings once they are designated as a landmark. Currently, an owner can use a building permit to alter a landmark, so long as Buildings issued the permit before designation. The proposed law would require Buildings to revoke such permits upon designation.

At the public hearing, representatives from Landmarks, the Historic Districts Council, and the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, among others, testified in favor of the proposed bill.

The Real Estate Board of New York testified against the proposed law. It argued that building permits provide a level of assurance that construction plans require, and that delays in construction are extremely costly. A representative from the American Institute of Architects echoed the Board’s concerns, and testified that building permits should be honored like contracts, otherwise developers could not rely on an established construction schedule and budget.

Council Member Jessica Lappin, chair of the subcommittee, said that she would consider all submitted testimony and policy recommendations before moving forward. She did not announce when the subcommittee would vote on whether to send the proposed law before the full Council.

Council: Intro. No. 542 (Oct. 23, 2007).

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