Open process for public review of plans announced

Developers required to submit online diagrams for new building and alteration enlargement applications; public has 30 days to challenge Buildings’ zoning decisions. On February 2, 2009, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor for Operations Edward Skyler, and Buildings’ Commissioner Robert D. LiMandri announced changes to the City’s real estate development process. The changes, which will go into effect starting March 9, 2009, mandate that online diagrams for new building and alteration enlargement applications be submitted to Buildings for public viewing on its website.

One of the required diagrams will be a three-dimensional representation of the proposed project that must include the building height, street wall heights and setbacks, permitted obstructions, and the sky exposure plane. Another diagram will require, among other things, the zoning district(s), dimensioned zoning lot, lot coverage, street trees, yards, street widths, garages, and decks. The purpose of the diagrams is to provide the public with enough detail about the project to determine if it complies with applicable zoning regulations. New York is the first city in the nation to require online development diagrams.

Aside from the diagrams, Buildings will implement a new 30-day formal public review challenge period in which the public may review and contest zoning decisions made by Buildings. After the 30-day period ends, the Borough Commissioner will review every challenge. If the Commissioner determines a challenge to be invalid, the public will have 15 days to appeal the decision to Buildings’ First Deputy Commissioner. If the First Deputy Commissioner also determines a challenge to be invalid, the public may appeal the decision to the Board of Standards and Appeals for a final determination.

Mayor Bloomberg believes that the reforms “will make sure people have a stronger voice in the development that’s taking place in their neighborhoods, while also giving developers more certainty about their projects.” Commissioner LiMandri noted that the process will allow the public to see what a building would look like “before the first shovel hits the ground,” and will give developers a sense of security once the public review process is over.

Mayor’s Office Press Release: Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner LiMandri announce online diagrams of proposed buildings and a new development challenge process. (Feb. 2, 2009).

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