NY – Challenging Approved Construction Plans
In April 2009, rules 105-04 and 105-03 of the NYC Charter will impose a 30 day public challenge period for NYC Dept. of Buildings approved construction plans. Missing the 30 day deadline does not preclude the public from challenging approved construction plans before the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA).
The challenge period allows developers and owners the chance to address potential community problems in advance of approval and permit. Projects that are challenged will be delayed for permit but without the challenge period, the same project might have faced a stop work order and possibly even required redesign.
In an effort to make information and resources more available and transparent to members of the public, as of March 9, 2009, the New York City Dept. of Buildings has required that zoning attributes of proposed new building and enlargement projects be submitted with new building and major alteration job permit applications. These forms are scanned in and available to view online through the NYC Dept. of Buildings “Building Information System”.
One in about four professionally certified applications get audited and roughly 20% that are audited fail the review. By making the information available and easily accessible to the public, the Dept. of Buildings and community work as partners in zoning resolution compliance and overall neighborhood preservation.
Using the “My Community” feature on the NYC Department of Buildings website, members of the public can search by community board or address to find all jobs filed in any neighborhood in the city. Individuals wishing to submit a challenge to a project can use the Zoning Challenge and Appeal form.
While neighborhood residents may not be technically versed in the zoning resolution or building codes, they know their neighborhoods and can instinctually understand that a project won’t belong. Not all challenges will present a problem to developers and builders. There is potential for abuse of the feature from citizens who’s lot line windows or view of the east river will be obstructed. This possibility will have to be accounted for from a planning and scheduling perspective.
Again, once a job is approved, the public will have 30 calendar days to review and challenge the department’s approval. After 30 days, any objections can be raised with the Board of Standards and Appeals.