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City Council Approves Major Changes to NYC Landmarks Law

Will create deadlines to decide on potential landmarks

Parts of Greenwood Cemetery (pictured here) were recently approved by the Landmarks Commission.
Photo by Rhododendrites via Wikipedia

A measure to introduce deadlines on the public review process for potential New York City landmarks was passed by the City Council Wednesday afternoon, Curbed has learned. On Tuesday, the Council's Land Use Committee had also approved the measures, which include a one year deadline to decide on individual properties, and a two-year deadline to vote on historic districts.

The full Council voted 38-10 in favor of the bill, and the Land Use Committee had earlier voted 12-4 in favor of it, along with one abstention.

Here's a breakdown of some of the other changes introduced by the Council. Members of the Land Use Committee who objected to the measures, including Councilman Ben Kallos, were against the deadlines, particularly for historic districts, and were concerned about the absence of extensions, according to YIMBY. The bill has also been opposed by the Historic Districts Council.

"In its current, Intro. 775-A is unacceptable," Simeon Bankoff, the executive director of the HDC, told YIMBY. "We need a situation where there is the possibility for flexibility for the Landmarks Commission to be nimble and not held to an artificial and false timeline.

The bill is a follow up to a similar contentious initiative introduced by the Council last fall. The current bill is seen as a toned down version of that and already had the support of 30 Council members before the measure went to vote today.

With this new bill, known as Intro 775-A, once a potential landmark is placed on LPC's calendar, it will have to be designated one way or another within a year. A one year extension is permitted on this cap. In regards to Historic Districts, the time limit is two years, but no extension is offered.

"We appreciate that that the City Council has made changes to the legislation based on our testimony and suggestions," a statement issued by the LPC following the vote, read. "We believe the legislation as drafted will provide the flexibility necessary for the Commission to fulfill its mandate."

Curbed will update this post as more information emerges from the meeting this afternoon.