UWS City Council candidates take anti-development stance

June 28, 2013 11:00AM

Candidates vying to represent the Upper West Side on City Council expressed their misgivings about the area’s rapid development, at a panel discussion at the New York Society for Ethical Culture attended by the New York Observer.

By and large, the candidates felt that current regulations in the area were too favorable to developers, and should be modified to increase preservation. 

Noah Gotbaum, one of the candidates, said that in exchange for a few concessions such as a new school and affordable housing, Extell Development was able to secure half a million square feet of additional development rights for its residential project.

“Mel talks about being proud of what happened at Riverside Center,” Gotbaum said, referring to fellow candidate Mel Wymore’s role in the Extell deal. “Well, Extell is laughing all the way to the bank!”

Wymore had his own ax to grind against developers, saying that the city should “modify” as-of-right development rules that allow construction that is within zoning code parameters to go ahead without need for public review or a further approval process.

“Increasing bulk by 20 percent should trigger public review,” Wymore said.

Wymore’s sentiments were taken further by candidate Debra Cooper, who said she’d like to eliminate developers’ right to build. “Most of the Upper West Side is littered with buildings that have been built as-of-right,” Cooper said. [NYO]  – Hiten Samtani