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CurbedWire: Oro Seeks Penpals, DOB Enlists NIMBYs

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DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN?It's been a tough go lately for the newish Oro condo building on Gold Street and Flatbush Avenue, which was singled out as visual proof of New York's incoming Ghost Towers epidemic. Perhaps to get people thinking happy thoughts about the building again, the Oro's reps sent out an e-mail blast chirping about prices from the low $400s, 15-year tax abatements and immediate occupancy. Plenty of immediate occupancy. At least this picture is still pretty. [CurbedWire Inbox]

NEW YORK CITY?Just in time for the end of the building boom, the Department of Buildings is set to institute its "New Development Challenge Process" on Monday, July 13. For better or worse, the new policy will force architects and engineers to make diagrams of any new proposed building or major enlargement available for the public to peruse and/or bitch about. Most of all, it will allow concerned citizens to do the DOB's job by analyzing the plans for zoning violations. Complete details about this crazy scheme in the press release pasted after the jump. [CurbedWire Inbox]

Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri today announced the new development challenge process will take effect on Monday, July 13, and the initial public challenge period for zoning approvals has been extended from 30 to 45 days. The new process is a component of the development reforms announced by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in February. The reforms will give New Yorkers a stronger voice in the development of neighborhoods, create greater transparency and clarify the process for the public and for developers. Under the development reforms, architects and engineers will be required to submit a diagram of any new proposed building or major enlargement so the public can view the size and scale of any proposed development online before construction begins. New York City is the first city in the country to put zoning diagrams online, giving greater transparency to the building process and providing more clarity about how and when a construction project can move forward. These diagrams will be posted online once the Department determines that an application for a new building or major enlargement complies with zoning regulations. Following a thorough review of public comments on the new process, the Department extended the initial public challenge period for zoning approvals from 30 to 45 days to ensure all New Yorkers have adequate time to review these new diagrams. A notice of adoption of a rule regarding the new process was published in the City Record today.

“New Yorkers have a right to know what’s being built in their neighborhood, and now they can easily find out by visiting our website,” said Commissioner LiMandri. “This new, easy-to-read diagram opens the doors to the construction process like never before and will give more certainty to the community and developers on the future of any project in the City.”

The diagrams, which will be available at under the My Community section, will present critical information that can be used by the public to confirm whether a project complies with zoning regulations. The diagrams will include the size of the project, drawn to scale, and where a building will sit in relation to the street.

The 45-day public-challenge process establishes an organized procedure to challenge the Department’s zoning decisions, and the Department’s responses to those challenges will be posted online for the first time. The current process, which has no formal timeframe, often produces confusion and unnecessary and unintended costs for development. The online diagrams and new challenge process will streamline the review of the thousands of challenges the Department receives each year – at no additional cost to the City.

New Formal Public Challenge Process

* Initial Public Challenge Period: When the Department approves zoning plans for any new building or major enlargement, the building diagrams, called ZD1 forms, and other associated documents will be uploaded to the Department’s website. New Yorkers will then have 45 calendar days to review and challenge the zoning approval. In addition, once a permit is issued builders will be required to post the permit at the project location within three days of its issuance so the public is aware of the proposed development.

* Initial Zoning Challenge Review: After the initial public challenge period ends, the 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 may be taken, including issuing Stop Work Orders, revocation 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 City’s Board of Standards and Appeals.