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MAS Urges DOB To Re-Evaluate New Rule

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Update via MAS Twitter: DOB Rule Breaking News: as MAS asked, DOB delays start-date until mid-April (instead of 3/9) for more public input

At a public hearing this afternoon, MAS will urge the Department of Buildings to further evaluate two new rules on the public challenge process for building approvals. The rules are scheduled to be implemented on Monday, March 9.

“While DOB’s new rules are a commendable effort to advance public discourse on building approvals, MAS believes that further evaluation of the public challenge process and careful consideration of today’s testimony should take place before the rule is put into effect,” said David Schnakenberg, Menapace Legal Fellow for the Municipal Art Society.

MAS suggested that DOB convene a working group to consider the testimony and the input it has received today. MAS offered to participate in any way that might be helpful to improving the rule and realizing the Mayor Bloomberg’s goal of meaningful public review of DOB approvals.

MAS also offered the following recommendations:

  • While providing building diagrams in advance of construction is an improvement over existing practice, MAS does not feel that the information required of the applicant is sufficient, and asked that DOB expand its requirements to include a detailed zoning analysis.
  • MAS urged DOB to improve its notification procedures, to extend the period in which the public may submit challenges, and to lessen the technical requirements incumbent upon challengers. Applicant postings are useless absent meaningful notice to the community and a genuine opportunity to challenge approvals.
  • DOB must utilize available technology to better inform the public of approvals if it is to rely on improved public participation as a justification for shortening the challenge period.
  • DOB must extend the public challenge period specified in the proposed rule. MAS recommended a minimum of 45 days, as opposed to 30, to allow for community board participation, as well as to allow for consultation with zoning or legal experts.
  • MAS urged DOB to reconsider the requirement that the public must cite zoning and constructions and either strike it from the forms or explicitly limit the required citation to that which is on applicants’ forms.
  • To ensure that the challenge process is best utilized, MAS recommended that DOB establish an office in each borough, to assist individuals with public challenges.
  • MAS also suggested that DOB dedicate resources to provide training in the use of the proposed challenged process.

Click here to read MAS’ entire statement to the DOB.