Word straight from BermanWire—Andrew Berman, that is, of the GVSHP on the subject of the MeatBoard: "We have just received news that the City has ruled that the controversial 8-story high billboards at the Hotel Gansevoort in the Meatpacking District are in violation of zoning rules. The owner of the Hotel Gansevoort can now take down the signs, as we and many area business and community leaders have been calling for, or he can try to correct them and keep them up. Because the owner has said publicly that putting up the billboards were a mistake he would change if he could, now is his chance to do so. There is also still the possibility that the City will find the signs in violation in several additional respects which he could not so easily correct."
Here's where it gets really good. The zoning violation is that the MeatBoard stands at less than a 90 degree angle to Hudson Street, as required by law. To fix the problem, the hotel would have to re-angle the MeatBoard towards the hotel (exactly how far is yet unclear). For Gansevoort Hotel owner Michael Achenbaum, it's a Hobson's Choice of epic proportions. Developing, etc.
March 23,2007 Hon. Patricia Lancaster
Commissioner, NYC Department of Buildings
New York, NY 10007
Re: 352 West 13th Street Billboards, Hotel Gansevoort, Manhattan
Dear Commissioner Lancaster:
I am very pleased to learn that the Department has investigated the issues the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation has raised regarding the enornous and controversial billboards erected by the Hotel Gansevoort, and found that they do in fact violate zoningregulations for the site. I was also very pleased to learn that the Department has issued violations against at least five other illegal signs in the immediate vicinity which we brought to the Department's attention - 807 Washington Street, 30 Gansevoort Street, 675 Hudson Street, 350 West 14th Street, and 59 Greenwich Street - and that in response at least one has already been removed.
It is my understanding that the Department has determined that, as we contended, the Hotel Gansevoort's billboards stand at less than a 90 degree angle to Hudson Street, as required by law. While the Hotel may seek to correct this by turning the sign several degrees away from Hudson Street, this would of course turn the signs towards the windows of the Hotel, and we hope that the Hotel will choose not to do so and to instead simply remove the signs. However, there are issues we have raised regarding the Hotel Gansevoort's billboards' violation of zoning regulations which have not yet been resolved by the Department, violations which the Hotel could not address by simply moving the angle of the signs. We continue to contend that, according to zoning regulations, the lower sign must be at a greater than 90 degree angle from the nearby C6-2Aand R8B zoning district boundaries, which would not be possible on this particular site.
Section 42-562 of the zoning text states that in Ml districts (such as these signs are located in), "within 500 feet of the boundary of a Residence District or Commercial District, any illuminated portion of any signs shall face at an angle of more than 90 degrees away from such boundary line." The signs are clearly at less than a 90 degree angle from the boundary line between the neighboring R8B zone and C6-2Azone, and from the neighboringC6-2A and Cl-6 zone (see attached map, [above]), and such a discrepancy could not be resolved by turning the signs. It is my understanding that the Department has taken a cursory measure of the distance from the signs to the R8B district boundary and found it to be just over 500 feet; however, we have also measured the distance using maps available to us and found the distance to be just under 500 feet. In light of this, I urge the Department to measure againwith absolute certainty, and to keep in mind that the zoning text prohibits"any (emphasis added) illuminated portion of any signs" from facing at less than a 90 degree angle, meaning the Department should measure the closest portion of the sign to the closest point on the district boundary line.
The signs are indisputably within 500 feet of the boundary between the neighboring C6-2Aand C I -6 zones, and face it almost directly, at considerably less than tlle 90 degree angle required by zoning regulations. I understand that the Department has taken a cursory look at this issue and has questioned the applicability of this district boundary line in this case. From reading the regulations, however, it is clear that this boundary line is applicable and that the sign must face it at an angle of greater than 90 degrees, which it does not and cannot. The zoning text's only qualification regarding when an illuminated sign such as this in an Ml zone such as this must face at an angle of more than 90 degrees from "the boundary of Residence District or a Commercial District" (such as in this case) is that it must be "within 500 feet of the boundary." Thus it would seem clear that on this basis the zoning text prohibits the placement of this sign at this location.
While I thank the Department for the considerable attention it has paid to this case and for the action it has taken in ruling the signs in violation regarding the angle to Hudson Street, I urge you to continue to examine these issues and make a ditermination [sic] regarding the signs' conformance with all applicable aspects of the zoning text, such as the proximity and angle to the zoning district boundary lines previously mentioned. I believe you will find that they are in fact in violation of several requirements, which would require at least one of them to be removed.
Cc: DOB Manhattan Borough Commissioner Christopher Santulli
DOB Assistant Commissioner Robert Iulo
DOB Padlock/Sign Enforcement Unit Director Edward Fortier
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer
State Senator Tom Duane
Assemblymember Deborah Glick
Community Board #2, Manhattart
Municipal Art Society
Meatpacking District Initiative