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City Council passes several bills that aim to rein in BSA, claim it’s been granting variances with little regard to public

YMCA site (file photo)

May 29, 2017 By Christian Murray

The city council passed several pieces of legislation last week that aim to rein in the Board of Standards & Appeals after claiming that the city agency grants zoning variances with little regard to the views of the public.

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer was a sponsor of one of the bills that calls for the BSA to directly address the concerns of the public when it renders a decision.

“If the board votes against the apparent wants of a neighborhood, I believe that the members of the community who will ultimately live with the consequences of the Board’s decision deserve to know why,” Van Bramer said in a statement.

Several council members claim that the BSA has become a rubber stamp for developers. They cited a study conducted by Citizens Union in 2012 that found that the BSA ruled in favor of the applicants 97 percent of the time.

Another bill that passed last week, sponsored by Karen Koslowitz (Forest Hills), requires the BSA to provide a written explanation whenever it approves a variance contrary to the recommendations of the community board.

The issue resurfaced in this neighborhood last year when the BSA approved the Long Island City YMCA’s application to modify an existing zoning variance so it could transfer air rights to an adjacent lot thereby allowing a developer to construct a 17-story hotel at 32-45 Queens Blvd.

Community Board 2 rejected the YMCA’s application arguing that the approval would lead to the construction of a much bigger hotel than otherwise permitted—and would add to an area already saturated with such buildings. However, the community board’s recommendation, which is merely advisory, had no impact.

When the matter was heard by the BSA, very little attention appeared to be paid to the Community Board’s decision, based on a March 8, 2016, recording of the testimony. In fact, one of the five BSA board members relied on the lawyer advocating for the YMCA to find out how Community Board 2 ruled on it (see 1 hour and 47 minutes in video)—as opposed to the BSA independently retrieving it ahead of time.

Several legislators are calling for the BSA to be more transparent and accountable.

One of the bills that passed now requires the BSA to list the number of applications it has approved or denied as well as the average length of time until a decision was rendered. Another bill requires the BSA to list all the variances and special applications action upon since 1998 to be available on an interactive map of the city.

Ben Kallos (Manhattan), who sponsored several of the bills, said in a statement: “We are taking away the rubber stamp from a government agency that used it far too often over the objections of residents.”

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Hey, be nice

And no need to rush to sell; real estate bubbles may “burst”, but around here, prices won’t go down much. May even go up, crazy as that seems. I say hold on to what you own- unless you’re leaving NYC altogether.

Changes they are coming

The building is just in the beginning stages. It’s amazing. It started with the citi Corp building and people were saying for years that l.i.c will look like Manhattan soon. That was so long ago. Now after moving to the west coast due to a job ,I’m back in my, and drove down qb and it looks like that building predicted so many years ago is well on its way. At first, it’s scary, almost like a movie, but it looks great. Shame a lot of residents lost the view of the city. Things change with time, some things good, some bad. You have an option, sell and make some nice coin on your property or stay but it coming this way like it or not, it only makes sense. It all about money. People complain about the 7 train, but 12 mins to grand central is valuable. We took it for granted all those years. In 30 years from now sunnyside will be swallowed up too. Cash in If you can . Tough for some to swallow, but make the best out of a bad situation. Cash in. It could be worse, you could live in maspeth which was a nice quiet peaceful safe neighborhood. I drove through maspeth and it’s turning into a slum very fast. Values are dropping on houses. It’s gonna be like bushwick was. Like I say things change

Oil Beef Hooked

Bushwick is up and coming. Prices going up for 100% the last 10 years..

El loco

No matter what Jimmy would do you would criticize. You need to stop watching the Honeymooners and get out a little.

Margery Perlmutter

Hey c’mon, it’s Board of Standards & Appeals not Building Standards & Appeals


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