By Mark Hallum
Community Board 11 voted unanimously in favor of a resolution to oppose new rules that no longer require the Landmark Preservation Commission to seek the input of advisory boards within the city before making a decision certain types of work on designated property.
CB11 joins organizations across the city, including Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan), who oppose what the LPC called an overhaul of rules to “increase transparency” in their effort to maintain a public oversight in matters of designation.
Henry Euler, first vice president of the Auburndale Improvement Association, pitched the resolution to the community board at the Monday meeting in which members discussed the advantages of giving input their in these decisions, even as only an advisory board.
“Now the Landmark Preservation Commission has decided they don’t want to have input anymore from community boards and that they want to make all these decisions in-house,” Euler said. “I don’t think that’s correct. I think it’s very important that the community and the community board get an opportunity to weight in on these matter. So I asked [CB11 Chair Christine Haider] if it would be OK to write a resolution calling on the [LPC] to change this new rule [to exclude] the community and the community board to participate in the decision-making”
Johnson issued a letter to LPC Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan praising their efforts to bring changes to comply with other potential needs, such as barrier-free access, energy codes, and resiliency mandates, but asking the city agency to back down from the this rule change.
“The participation of the public adds value to our civic processes and, in the case of LPC, ensures that the commission’s determinations are based upon the best possible information,” Johnson said in the letter. “Contrary to the stated goals of the Statement of Basis and Purpose, the Proposed Rules will not increase transparency, but rather will reduce it. Under the Proposed Rules, there is no provision for any kind of public review of these delegated determinations.”
Part of the LPC’s reasoning for the rule change is to speed up the approval process on work in light of increased number of applications.
The discussion period revolved around the designation of Douglas Manor, which happened in 1966, and was supported by the community, which wanted to preserve their neighborhood’s appeal and protect it from development.
One CB11 member from Douglas Manor said they would like to continue keeping the community board’s involvement in decisions based on the history of neighborhood support for landmarking of the area.
Bayside Historical Society President Paul DiBenedetto pointed out that even though the community board may have a voice in the matter, it is only an advisory board with no real stake in the decision, but he voted in favor of the resolution anyhow.
An organization known as Human Scale NYC formed a coalition of groups within the city, with Queens Preservation Council among the 24, and expressed doubts about the need for the rule change. But it said if there must be a rule change, the LPC should involve preservation organizations in the best alternative to seeking community support as it currently is.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall