Q & A with Leroy Comrie, the new chair of the City Council’s Land Use Committee

By Adam Pincus | January 27, 2010 09:37AM

On the eve of his first meeting as chair of the City Council’s Land Use Committee, southeast Queens Council member Leroy Comrie spoke with The Real Deal about how he will judge success, whether he has laid out specific goals and which upcoming land use projects could be the most controversial.
Comrie was voted in as chairman last Thursday and is scheduled to call his first committee meeting to order today at 10 a.m. with three rezonings and 11 landmarkings to consider.

How will you determine if you are doing a good job as Land Use chair?

If at the end of the day all sides can be clear on the fact that they have articulated their ideas, expressed their passion for the project, and have been able to understand why whatever decision was rendered, was rendered. I would consider that success.

Have you set any specific goals for your tenure, in terms of affordable housing units, projects passed or jobs created?

No. given all the variables that are going on in today’s economy and all the difficulty people are having with financing, etc., it would not be wise to try and set or dictate any type of goals in that manner.

What can you do as land use chair outside of the committee meetings, as a sort of power broker?

If there is a way to bring people together during a discussion on a specific project to have a ‘meeting of the minds’ on a decision… as a — hopefully — catalyst i can bring people to the table. The prime part of the job is to make sure all the land use questions are resolved. Part of the job is to bring the parties together.

Is there anything that you as land use chair can do to spur development?

I think development will happen in its own course and time. Development will happen when they have the ability to create the financing, and the property vision. The council can try outside the committee to create legislation, [but] there is nothing that we can do other than be a bully pulpit.

You met with City Planning Commission Chair Amanda Burden shortly after being named chair last week. What did you discuss?

I just sat down with commissioner Burden… I am still going over that. She has about 40 different zonings and rezonings that we have to work through.

Which ones will be the most difficult?
None of them are easy.

Which will be the most controversial?

That I don’t know yet. I don’t know which ones are going be the most controversial. In fact when we spoke with [Burden] she didn’t feel that there were going to be any that were that difficult. The 15 Penn [Plaza] building maybe. The Northern Tribeca rezoning. Those might be more challenging, but she did not think there were any that would be a major…anything that would give us major headaches, no.