Mayor Bill de Blasio has bowed to pressure to restart the land use process that can help major New York development projects move forward.
The mayor announced today (Wednesday) that the City Planning Commission will start holding remote meetings in August. This will allow developments that create affordable housing, jobs, health facilities, resiliency projects and more to move forward after public review.
“This pandemic brought so much to a halt as we worked to save lives,” said Mayor de Blasio. “Now, we are taking a safe approach to re-starting this important land use review process.”
“The City’s restarting of the ULURP process is an important step in New York’s economic recovery. This paves the way for developments with affordable housing; modern, environmentally friendly offices and open space critical to our City’s growth and vitality to move forward. Showcasing that our great City is open for business is integral to a stronger New York.” James Whelan, President, The Real Estate Board of New York
After four months in “pandemic pause” some 24 major developments have been frozen in the Uniform Land Use Review Process, commonly known as ULURP, including the 28-acre Long Island City site once earmarked for Amazon’s HQ2 project (picture top) and the rezoning of swathes of Gowanus.
When the CPC restarts in August, it will include ULURP projects that were already in public review prior to March 16 as well as projects that are not subject to ULURP.
The Mayor’s Executive Order suspending the ULURP clock will not be lifted until September. This staggered restart is aimed at helping ensure that the City’s 59 community boards, which must adhere to ULURP’s timeline but often do not meet during summer months, are ready to host remote public meetings as soon as the clock restarts. To help community boards be ready in September, the Administration has secured video conferencing licenses for community boards. The Department of City Planning will be working with the boards to assist with training needs.
“With our city beginning to reopen and work underway to help the economy recover, resuming New York City’s public land use review process is vital to creating the affordable homes and job opportunities New Yorkers need in their neighborhoods,” said Deputy Mayor Vicki Been.
The CPC’s resumption of meetings comes alongside the launch of a web portal to connect New Yorkers with remote public meetings held by City agencies. NYC Engage will provide information about upcoming meetings and how anyone can participate online or by phone, as well as general guidance to acclimate New Yorkers to remote public engagement. Events will be added to NYC Engage in the coming months from the CPC and other agencies. CPC meetings will take place remotely for the foreseeable future.
“Manhattan’s community boards have done a great job at holding remote meetings – some have seen much more public comment compared to in-person meetings,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer.
“I believe that these boards will be ready to take part in the ULURP process and I am eager to see that happen. Getting these projects into the public review process not only ensures that our City can be on track to a steady recovery from COVID-19 and all its effects, but also helps to get public benefits–including housing, community and open space–to our neighborhoods.”
“Unfortunately, the suspension of City Planning Commission meetings was necessary due to public safety concerns,” said Council Member Adrienne Adams, Chair of the Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Sitings and Dispositions. “I am thrilled that the land use review process will resume ensuring public input and expeditious evaluation for the benefit of all New York City communities.”
The first remote CPC meetings will be a Review Session on August 3, followed by a Public Meeting on August 5. During Review Sessions, the CPC discusses new applications that are about to commence public review, holds post-CPC-hearing discussions on applications and votes on City Council modifications. For Public Meetings, the CPC typically holds public hearings and votes on applications.
Following normal protocol, the public draft agendas for upcoming CPC meetings will be posted on the Department of City Planning website in the days before the meetings take place. While held remotely, CPC meetings will follow the same rules as they did pre-pandemic with regards to format, the need for a quorum, scheduling, sign-up for members of the public wishing to testify at a public hearing, testimony length and more.
Information about how to participate in public hearings is available at NYC Engage.