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NYC officials seek more community engagement in big developments

A new plan seeks to get locals and developers to the table before a ULURP

Time and again, when a new skyscraper is proposed in NYC, local residents complain that they were informed too late in the process and have very little say in what gets built in the neighborhood. Two elected officials are now looking to change that.

City Councilman Antonio Reynoso, who represents parts of Bushwick, Williamsburg, and Ridgewood, and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer have teamed up to create a new process whereby the local community can get involved before the city begins its official land-use review procedure, Crain’s reports.

The plan is only in the preliminary stages right now, and would require a change to the City Charter, but Reynoso and Brewer feel it will be an affective way to ensure that the community gets involved at an early stage, and in turn benefits the developer as well.

At present, most local residents only become aware of a new project at their community board meetings. By then the developers have finalized a lot of details and are already on their way through the official review process—often times local residents don’t even have enough time to study the proposals.

Nowhere perhaps has this been felt more acutely in the recent past than on the Lower East Side where a spate of proposed skyscrapers have frustrated locals. Developers behind three skyscrapers in the Two Bridges area declined to delay their projects despite requests from the local community, but have agreed to meet with local residents with more frequency to update them on the projects.

In some cases, like in Sunnyside and Inwood, projects were abandoned by developers after a pushback from the community. This new plan put forth by Brewer and Reynoso is looking to mitigate the frustration on both sides.

Reynoso made the announcement at a meeting Friday that included about a 100 community board members, housing advocates, and planners, according to Crain’s. The meeting on Friday acted as the first step towards creating a concrete plan to move forward.