Bills That Could Severely Damage Landmarks Law to be Introduced in Council Tomorrow


    At a 10 a.m. meeting tomorrow, the City Council’s committee on land use will be considering several bills related to landmarking, including some that have been gathering dust for years and a couple new ones. The Historic Districts Council, which has sent out several emails about the bills, notes two of them as being of particular interest:

    1. “creates a 21/33 month maximum timeline for landmark and historic district designations. These bills would seem to answer the longtime community complaints about lack of attention to community requests. In truth, if these bills are adopted in tandem as written, they would risk overwhelming the LPC scant resources and could result in thousands of potential buildings in dozens of historic districts being rejected out of hand.”

    2. “mandates City Planning Commission to analyze economic impact of designation on the development potential of proposed landmark and instructs City Council to strongly regard this analysis in their deliberations. The bill also requires the LPC to issue very detailed draft designation reports early in the public hearing process and promulgate rules for historic districts immediately after designation. This is a deliberate attack on the Landmarks Law , which was intended by its drafters to “stabilize and improve property value; protect and enhance the city’s attractions to tourists and visitors and the support and stimulus to business and industry thereby provided; and strengthen the economy of the city”. This is how Landmark designation worked in 1965, and it’s how Landmark designation works today.”

    We’ve spoken to a number of preservationists about these bills, and it’s worth noting that concentrated attempts to weaken the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s power come into play every four or five years. Often they go nowhere. It’s also worth noting that about 3 percent of the city is landmarked, and none of these bills offers quid pro quo: If the LPC is going to do more work, it’s not going to be getting any more money to do that work. Landmarking helps keep New York unique, and it brings in tourist revenue by preserving our city’s past. The Landmarks Preservation Commission is not commenting on the matter at present.
    What the City Council Proposals Really Mean [HDC]

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