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The Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council and the Municipal Art Society have been advocating for an historic district in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn since 2006. Neighborhood volunteers catalogued and photographed roughly 1,100 buildings, which formed the basis of a report to the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC).

Tomorrow (Tuesday, October 28) from 1:30-3:30pm, the LPC will holding a public hearing at the Municipal Building on the proposed historic district, which includes roughly 870 properties. Read more about it at the MAS website. View a map of the proposed district here (PDF).

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The City Council has scheduled two public hearings about the Willets Point development. Today’s begins early, but competes for council member’s attention with the second of two hearings on Mayor Bloomberg’s plan to extend term limits. The next is scheduled for Monday. Here’s the info:

Friday, October 17, 9:30 AM
Planning, Dispositions & Concessions Subcommittee; Zoning and Franchises Subcommittee
Dispositions Chair: Daniel R. Garodnick (D-Manhattan), Zoning Chair: Tony Avella (D-Bayside)
Council Chambers – City Hall
Monday, Oct. 20, 10 a.m.
Land Use Committee
Chair: Melinda Katz (D-Forest Hills)
Committee Room, City Hal

Thanks Iron Triangle Tracker for helping distribute this information, since it’s basically impossible to find on the City Council’s website.

The City Council Committee on Governmental Operations, chaired by Council Member Simcha Felder, has scheduled two public hearings on the proposed legislation dealing with term limits. The hearings will be held Thursday, October 16th at 1:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall (2nd Floor), and on Friday, October 17th at 10:00 a.m. in the Committee Room at City Hall (2nd Floor).

The hearings will cover four different proposals (all listed and available in their entirety here). These are:

  • Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal to extend term limits from two to three consecutive terms;
  • A bill introduced by Council Members Eric Gioia, John Liu,David Weprin and Bill de Blasio, intended to ensure that any change to term limits must be decided in an election;
  • A resolution proposed by Council Members Tony Avella and Annabel Palma, calling on the State legislature to adopt legislation dictating that the City’s term limits law must be subject to voter referendum; and
  • A bill that will be introduced by Council Members Letitia James, Bill de Blasio and David Weprin, calling for the creation of a Charter Revision Commission, which would examine term limits and put the issue to voters in a special election in the spring of 2009.

Individuals who wish to give testimony may do so by registering at either hearing. Written testimony is strongly encouraged and can be submitted at the hearings or mailed to:

Matt Gewolb
New York City Council
250 Broadway, 14th Floor
New York, NY 10007

Testimony can also be submitted electronically to testimony@council.nyc.gov.

Now that the state has officially declared Manhattanville “blighted,” on September 2 and 4, the Empire State Development Corporation will hold public hearings, the next stage of the process that will ultimately determine whether the state will support the use of eminent domain in Columbia University’s planned expansion. While many believe this is a done deal, there is still the opportunity to make your voice heard on this issue. Talking points on eminent domain from Task Force Supporters the Coalition to Preserve Community, a group that has long been fighting Columbia’s plan, are after the jump.

The hearings will be held from 1-4pm and 5:30-9:30pm both days, at Aaron Davis Hall of the City University of New York, located at West 135″‘ Street at Convent Avenue. Speaker sign-up begins 15 minutes before each session.

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Another bit of information in preparation for tomorrow’s mega-hearing at the City Planning Commission: Asian-Americans for Equality, an advocacy organization located near the Chinatown/Lower East Side border, has come out in favor of DCP’s proposed rezoning of the East Village and Lower East Side. Their position statement calls the rezoning, “a positive step in stemming the rampant gentrification and out-of-context, luxury development in our mixed-income neighborhood,” and includes a petition calling for a similar process for Chinatown.

In response to groups, such as the Coalition to Protect Chinatown, that claim the rezoning is racist, AAFE has some harsh words. This PDF, titled “East Village/LES Rezoning: Responding to Myths” counters: “The accusations of racism not only oversimplifies and throws a smoke screen over the real issues of neighborhood preservation, it polarizes against each other the shared vested interests of two allied neighborhoods with long historical ties. The loosely-substantiated claims of racism amount to dangerous race-baiting, and is an impediment to the common goal of affordable housing preservation for our low-income residents in Lower Manhattan.”

Tomorrow’s hearing is sure to be an emotionally-charged event. The East Village/LES rezoning is the first item on the agenda, and doors open at NYU’s Tishman Auditorium at 8:30am for speaker sign-up.

According to an agreement signed in 2005, the Department of Sanitation was required to move its salt storage and truck parking facility off the Gansevoort Peninsula by May 1 of this year, so that the site may be incorporated into Hudson River Park. That has yet to happen, but DOS has drafted plans for two new facilities. Under the DOS plan, the current District 1 Garage at 297 West Street would be replaced with a salt shed to hold 4,000 tons of salt, and a new garage for districts 1, 2, and 5 would be constructed at West and Spring Streets. These plans have faced longstanding community opposition.

Earlier this month, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer recommended disapproval of the salt shed site, saying that the City should find an alternate place for the salt shed and instead work with the community to turn the current site into publicly accessible open space. He also recommended conditional disapproval of the new garage facility, saying that while a new garage for districts 1 and 2 made sense, the Department should find an alternate site for trucks that serve District 5 in midtown.

The City Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on DOS’s plans at 10am on Wednesday, August 27 at 22 Reade St. The link to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement on DOS’s website seems to be broken, but a summary is available online here. (PDF)

Due to a recent NY State Supreme Court ruling, the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) is defining “demolition” in the state’s Rent Stabilization Code and Emergency Tenant Protection Regulations, which relate specifically to rent-regulated structures. As it stands, there is no definition of “demolition” in either of these texts. Now, DHCR is seeking to codify its longstanding interpretation, which allows building owners to displace rent regulated tenants in order to undertake a total gut renovation.

DHCR explains why “demolition” should not constitute a full razing of a building as follows: “Firstly, such an absolute standard would automatically disqualify owners of landmarked buildings from obtaining this statutory remedy. Secondly, requiring an owner to knock down the entire exterior shell of a building, in areas as densely populated as New York City and its neighboring counties, could create extremely unsafe conditions to pedestrians and the occupants of neighboring buildings, and could even cause significant structural damage to neighboring or attached edifices.”

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The Infrastructure Task Force (ITF) of the New York City Council and the Council’s Environmental Protection Committe will jointly hold a Public Forum on the subject of on the benefits and challenges of clean distributed energy sources, such as solar photovoltaics, in the New York City context. The hearing has been convened by Council Members Daniel Garodnick, Letitia James, and James Gennaro.

The public is invited to attend the forum to hear industry leaders and experts address this important subject, and provide substantive testimony on what the city can do to establish itself as a national leader in clean energy adoption.

When: Thursday July 31, 2008, 9:30am-1:00pm
Where: Hunter College, West Building (southwest corner of Lexington Avenue and East 68th Street), 8th Floor Faculty Dining Room

Via Task Force members Neighbors Allied for Good Growth (NAG), an announcement about tomorrow’s public hearing at the Board of Standards and Appeals on Williamsburg’s eyesore “Finger Building” (shown here via Curbed):

STOP THE FINGER BUILDING (AGAIN)!

Public Hearing, Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA)

Tuesday, July, 29th, 10:00 AM

40 Rector St., 6th Floor: Hearing Room E (Take the #1/ W/R train to Rector St. or the 4/5 trains to Wall St in Manhattan)

Join Your Neighbors! Speak out! Tell the Department of Buildings to enforce the law rather than work to ensure a windfall for a developer operating in bad faith.

Neighbors Allied for Good Growth (NAG), the People’s Firehouse, and several community residents are appealing the Dept of Building’s (DoB) decision regarding the validity of the permit for the “Finger Building” (located at 144 North 8th St between N 7th and N 8th and Bedford and Berry). Although the building is 10 stories tall right now, the DoB has NOT revoked the permit that allows the developer to more than double the current height!!!

The Brooklyn DoB Commissioner wrote that the permit is valid because the architect, Robert Scarano, and the developer, Mendel Brach, “BELIEVED” they could use the neighboring roofs for the required “open space.” Yet every related legal document (easements, etc.) expressly disallows the use of those rooftops.

The bottom line is that the DOB should insure that the building complies with zoning laws rather than the beliefs of self-interested developers. RSVP NAG at 718-384-2248 to let us know you’ll be joining us. Or call us if you need more information.

Since 2000, The Community-Based Planning Task Force has been leading the effort to create a more meaningful role for communities in New York City’s planning and decision-making processes.

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