By Gina Martinez
City Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest) is making a final push for curb height legislation.
The bill would require the Department of Transportation to maintain curb heights following street construction. The push comes right before the current session of the City Council concludes, and one month after a Jamaica Estates homeowner was reimbursed by DOT for a damaged curb.
Lancman first introduced the legislation in February after several constituents raised concerns about declining curb heights following DOT street construction and repaving. The councilman pointed out a curb that is level with the street can leave homes prone to flooding conditions and can result in fines from the city for having standing water on the property. Lancman’s bill was formally considered by the Transportation Committee in September.
To highlight the importance of the bill, Lancman drew attention to Jamaica Estates resident Michael Hannibal. In 2015 DOT resurfaced the street in front of Hannibal’s house as part of a citywide initiative, but according to Lancman, DOT’s work was done without considering the proper curb height and the newly raised street and curb are now level.
In November, the Queens County Civil Court found DOT responsible for the damages to Hannibal’s sidewalk and he was awarded a judgment of $7,334.03.
Lancman said he is urging the Council to vote on his common-sense legislation before the end of the current session in order to protect homeowners from the hassle and litigation Hannibal was forced to go through.
“What the court’s decision affirms is that the city is responsible for curb heights altered by DOT construction,” he said. “While I am pleased the court ruled in Michael’s favor, we shouldn’t be making homeowners take the city to court for DOT to fulfill its basic responsibility.”
Hannibal said he wholeheartedly supports the councilman’s effort to pass the bill.
“While we are pleased with the recent judgment, for many others the fight continues,” he said. “This bill will bring some relief moving forward.”
If the curb height bill is not passed at the Council’s Dec.19 meeting, it will have to be reintroduced next year and receive a new hearing in the Transportation Committee.
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart