Wednesday, May 2, 2012

City Council's Proposals to Gut Landmarks Preservation Commission?

The City Council is holding a public hearing today (Wednesday, May 2, 10:00 a.m.) to discuss a batch of bills which seem intended to drastically limit the capability of the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) to do their job of preserving landmarks.

If passed, the bills would collectively swamp LPC in a sea of paperwork, impossible deadlines and appeals. Five of the bills in particular draw the ire of groups like the Historic Districts Council:

* One would require LPC to respond to Requests for Evaluation (RFEs) within a maximum of six months.

* Another creates a 21/33 month maximum timeline for landmark and historic district designations. (Under this law, Crown Heights North, the Park Slope Extension, the Grand Concourse, Douglaston Hill, Murray Hill NoHo, and Dumbo would have never been designated since they all took longer than 33 months.)

* A third would create an appeals process for denied RFEs.

* A fourth would mandate an online database of RFEs along with new rules about what language can be used when responding to requests.

* A fifth bill mandates that the City Planning Commission analyze the economic impact of designation on the development potential of proposed landmark and instructs City Council to strongly weight this analysis.

Some of the other bills aren't so hot either, like one which affects materials used in restoring the landmarked properties.

If these bills are adopted as written, says the Historic Districts Council, "they would risk overwhelming the LPC scant resources and could result in thousands of potential buildings in dozens of historic districts being rejected out of hand."

Says HDC: "That the City Council is hearing all these bills with almost no notice is very disturbing. That each speaker is only going to have THREE MINUTES to comment on 11 bills is outright appalling."

HDC urges folks to attend the meeting if possible (more here).

Brownstoner notes that if these bills are passed, the LPC is going to do more work -- but it’s not going to be getting any more money to do that work.

Photo of the Park Slope Extension courtesy of LPC

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