Beginning March 9, the Department of Buildings will begin posting diagrams of new buildings or major building enlargements on its website for public review.  The public will have 30 days to comment on these drawings, which will depict the size and scale of new building projects.

“The reforms we are detailing today will inject a much-needed dose of transparency and accountability into a critical area of construction and development – zoning compliance,” said Mayor Bloomberg in a statement. “The reforms center on the public’s right to challenge any approved development if they think it violates local zoning regulations.”

The full challenge process will be as follows:

New Formal Public Challenge Process

  • Initial Public Challenge Period: When DOB approves plans for any new building or major enlargement, the building diagrams, called ZD1 forms, and other associated documents will be uploaded to the DOB website. In addition, once a permit is issued builders will be required to post the permit at the location within three days so the public is aware of the proposed development. New Yorkers will have 30 calendar days to review and challenge the development approval.
  • Initial Zoning Challenge Review: After the initial public challenge period ends, the DOB Borough Commissioner will address every challenge by conducting a full review of the construction plans and rendering decisions that will be posted online. If a challenge is determined to be valid, appropriate enforcement action will be taken, including issuing Stop Work Orders, revoking of permits, and requiring redesigns of the proposed construction.
  • Community Appeals Period: If the Borough Commissioner determines that a challenge is invalid, the public will be given an additional 15 calendar days to appeal to the First Deputy Commissioner.
  • Final Zoning Challenge Review: Once the First Deputy Commissioner issues a determination, the decision may be appealed to the Board of Standards and Appeals for a final determination.

What do you think?  Will this be an effective tool for communities to monitor development projects?