Public comments for: Fees for Certain Services

Comments

Comment:
I believe that additional fees associated with interpreting code are not necessary. I believe that additional fees would increase costs and delays to crucial building projects (affordable housing, energy-efficient buildings, etc.) where innovative design solutions and new technologies are often developed before they are incorporated into building code rules and zoning regulations, requiring more interpretation. In addition, the proposed fees would be devastating to small building and home owners who face unique circumstances or constraints not anticipated by current codes, like those impacted by Hurricane Sandy.
Agency: DOB
Comment:
As a practicing architect I think these fees are punitive. They would punish applicants for the codes' lack of transparency and for the Department's inconsistent enforcement and review processes. The code is Byzantine and intricate - to penalize homeowners for the unusual complexity of our code is bad governance.
Agency: DOB
Comment:
Code determinations are required to be listed individually for each Plan examiner objection. Typically a small residential project has 2 or 3 minor objections that need clarification by a Borough Commissioner does this mean according to the proposed rule the cost is upwards of $6000 for a homeowner to burden? I also believe a nominal fee of $250 should be charged to cover cost of DOB since some of these issues are resolved within 15 minutes and do not warrant exorbitant fees.
Agency: DOB
Comment:
The codes and zoning resolution are complex and updated on a regular basis. At times because of these updates there are conflicting requirements. In addition, even though the plan reviewers are trained, they are not perfect and at time misinterpret or incorrectly raise an objection. Charging a fee to resolve an objection that was incorrectly raised opens the door for plan examiners to make many "incorrect" objections in order to raise money for the City. There should be a stipulation that if the appeal or determination is granted and that the objection is over ridden that the fee is refunded. This would prevent abuse of the new fee charges. The above refund should only for incorrect or misinterpreted objections. True variance requests that result in an alteration of the code are justified. However, variances to the zoning resolution are performed by the Board of Standards and Appeals, that already charge a fee, not the DOB. A zoning determination is not a variance, it's a correction of a misinterpretation. If the ZDR is accepted then that fee should also be waived or refunded.
Agency: DOB
Comment:
Providing access to the DOB for clarification of the application of Codes and for appeals to objections is part-and-parcel of the services to be provided by the DOB to the public that it serves. The fees that are paid as part of the process produce revenue in excess of DOB expenses to the City of tens of millions of dollars per year. These proposed fees create an obstacle to obtaining guidance and for seeking relief within the Agency, especially for non-profit users and for people who are other-than-rich. In my opinion, access to the services for which new fees are proposed should not have a fee associated with them. While I suggest that there be no fees for these services, if fees are to be charged, they should be much more modest. I'd suggest a maximum of $250 per application for predetermination or for appeal.
Agency: DOB