Koslowitz introduces bill regarding the Board of Standards and Appeals

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Karen Koslowitz is hoping to increase the community’s voice against developers by introducing a bill regarding special permits.

The Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) is a five-member agency that grants variances from the City’s zoning laws. The BSA is proposed for reform by the City Council. In a testimony before the council in 2012, the Citizens’ Union stated that in a twelve month period, the BSA granted 97% of all applications by developers.

When a property owner seeks a “special permit” so that a site can be developed at variance to the existing zoning laws, the initial application goes to the BSA who would then refer the application to the local community board and borough board. After boards give their recommendation, the BSA is left with the ultimate decision. In the past, Koslowitz said that the BSA completely disregarded the recommendations without explanation when it came to making the final decision.

The new bill, Intro 418, would require “any action of the board of standards and appeals made with respect to an application for a special permit that is contrary to the recommendation filed by a community board or borough board shall be accompanied by a written explanation of its reason for such action.”

“Community and borough boards make a serious investment in time and effort in reviewing BSA applications before making a recommendation,” Koslowitz said. “Those recommendations need to be treated by the BSA with the respect that they deserve.”

On December 14, a package of ten bills, including Intro 418, will be heard by the Committee on Government Operations. All ten bills deal with some aspect of the Board of Standards and Appeals not being responsive to community input and concerns.

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