Some builders upset as voters add red tape to projects

Measure gives community boards more time to review ULURP applications

New York /
Nov.November 07, 2019 04:15 PM
(Credit: iStock)

(Credit: iStock)

Much of the excitement around New York’s election Tuesday centered on the approval of ranked choice voting, but passage of a down-ballot question affecting projects has drawn the ire of some developers.

The measure requires the Department of City Planning to give the relevant borough president, borough board and community board a detailed summary of projects subject to the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure at least 30 days before the ULURP application is certified for public review. It also added 15 or 30 days to the time that community boards have to review such applications during the summer.

Some developers criticized it for adding more time and red tape to an already lengthy process but others said it will not have a big impact on their projects.

“Extra time is not the end of the world,” said Eli Weiss of Joy Construction, which is currently working on projects in neighborhoods including the South Bronx and Inwood. “Especially if it’s 15 days.”

“It’s a minimal change,” Weiss continued. “Certainly, I don’t view it as damage, and I think that community board members are not [real estate] professionals, so an extra 30 days, it’s understandable. These are volunteers.”

G&M Realty founder Jerry Wolkoff was more upset about the measure. He stressed that developers usually already need multiple attempts to get through the ULURP process, and these added steps will make that process even longer.

“It doesn’t happen on the first go around,” Wolkoff said of getting ULURP approval from a community board. “They have other questions. The five months will turn into a year, so there’s nothing new for New York.”

Another developer, who asked not to be named, echoed these comments, arguing that the changes will make real estate investors more inclined to build outside of New York City.

But attorney Ray Levin, part of the land use and zoning group at the law firm Herrick Feinstein, downplayed the impact of the ballot measure. He acknowledged that the city’s review process was already very long — seven months — and maintained that the updated process would not drag out projects any more than it already does.

“I assume certification will still be generally when they were targeting it in any case,” he said, “so, no, I don’t think it’s going to extend an already lengthy process.”

He added, “It would have been nice to see things that would shorten the process.”


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