Monday, July 12, 2010

CB 8 Chairperson to Charter Commission: "Too often developers seek loopholes to avoid the input of the community they are attempting to infiltrate"

In the Charter Revision Commission hearing June 24 on Land Use, Nizjoni Granville, Chairperson of Brooklyn Community Board 8, was the second public speaker after the expert panel (covered here), appearing at about the 2:20 mark (webcast).

Like some other commentators, she asked for Community Boards to have more than advisory power in the city's Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP).

And while Granville didn't name any names, and some of her testimony referenced supportive housing projects, her statements that "developers seek loopholes to avoid the input of the community they are attempting to infiltrate" and "developers are able to circumvent the process if they receive government funds that are not obtained from New York City" sure sound to me like references to Atlantic Yards.

As I wrote 10/1/06, Community Board 8 (map), which takes in part of the planned Atlantic Yards footprint at its northwestern border, didn't take a harsh official stance toward the project as did Community Board 6, but it did submit numerous letters of concern from Executive Committee members and area residents to the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC).

Granville, who is something of a skeptic regarding Atlantic Yards, was elected Chairperson in June 2009 over a project supporter, though it can't be said AY was the deciding issue.

Her statement

At the hearing, Granville said:
We ask the Charter Revision Commission to strengthen Community Board roles in ULURP to ensure that our residents’ desires are not brushed aside and discounted as irrelevant. Too often developers seek loopholes to avoid the input of the community they are attempting to infiltrate.

Currently, ULURP is not being optimally utilized as developers are able to circumvent the process if they receive government funds that are not obtained from New York City. This opens the door for damaging construction and development projects, as well as an oversaturation of social service facilities, with little or no community input, no disclosure information for residents, and culminates in a haphazard approach for sustaining amicable community relations.

Ideally Community Boards should be able to review and approve any and all government-funded use of real property within the respective Community District, regardless of purview. While we realize this lofty goal may not be sustainable based on the small stature of Community Boards, we would request that, at the very least, the ULURP be expanded to require Community Board approval and review of all projects and all contracts designed to provide residential and supportive services, and also those projects designed to provide affordable housing with or without residential supportive services, where the funding source for either is a governmental or quasi-governmental entities or a not-for-profit corporation dispensing funds from governmental or quasi-governmental sources.

It is unfortunate that quality of life in Community Boards of New York City’s residents is being stifled or even ignored. The benefits of a Community Board’s presence far outweigh the operating costs. Subsequently, we strongly encourage you to maintain our presence and enhance the role of ULURP and our role in the ULURP process in the City Charter.
The official summary

The Commission's summary of testimony cited Granville:
- Strengthen Community Board roles in ULURP
- review and approve all government funded use of real property, regardless of purview
- Required Community Board approval and review of all contracts for residential and supportive services
I think a little of the nuance was lost.

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