After a Year-Long Debate, Landmarks Preservation Commission Votes in Favor of Rules Changes

Houses in the Crown Heights North Historic District

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    Just shy of a year after it was first announced, commissioners at the Landmarks Preservation Commission this morning unanimously voted in favor of a controversial proposal to change the rules under which the agency operates.

    “This process and the result is an example of good government and seeing the forest from the trees,” said Commissioner Michael Goldblum.

    The rules changes, which LPC Chair Sarah Carroll said would not go into effect until after a period of 40 days, include the elimination of a provision for removal of cast-iron vault lights, strengthening the prioritization of repair over replacement materials and narrowing the eligibility of substitute materials based on original material type. Proposed rooftop and rear yard additions, as well as excavations, will continue to be heard publicly by the commission and will not be moved to the staff level, as was suggested in the original draft of the rules changes.

    Renovation in the Crown Heights North Historic District

    First announced in January, the proposed adjustments will codify, consolidate, alter and add to the commission’s existing rules — changes the agency argues will streamline the application process. At the first go-round, critics said the changes would decrease transparency, allow alterations that were previously prohibited and pave the way for development at the expense of historic preservation.

    The commission altered its proposal in May following a contentious public hearing in March. At that time, Meenakshi Srinivasan was the chair of the commission before resigning in June. At the end of September, Sarah Carroll was appointed as the new chair.

    At a second public hearing, held in October, those who testified were generally in favor of the rules changes as they were currently presented, especially their move toward greater transparency and clarity.

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