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Proposed Rules: Closed to Comments

Comment By: 
Thursday, April 11, 2019
Proposed Rules Content: 

Statement of Basis and Purpose of Proposed Rule

Background About the Board of Standards and Appeals

Since 1916 the Board of Standards and Appeals (the “Board”) has worked to administer zoning, building, and housing regulations in a fair and just manner to protect the City’s interest in safeguarding the general welfare while balancing private property interests.

Under the New York City Charter, the Board is an independent agency that consists of five full-time commissioners. Three commissioners are required to have experience in architecture, urban planning, and engineering, and at the present time the Board’s two other commissioners have knowledge of real-property feasibility analysis and applicable law. Using their technical expertise and independent judgment, each commissioner scrutinizes every land use application with the utmost of care.

For each application, the Board holds hearings that are open to the general public where applicants and their team of design professionals present proposals to the Board. Other stakeholders, including tenants, members of the community, other government agencies, and elected officials, are also welcome to present additional information that the Board should consider before voting on an application. Commissioners’ reviews frequently require analyzing intricate construction documents, financial statements, testimony from other government agencies, and site conditions observed through visits to the properties and neighborhoods at issue. After considering the record in its entirety and deliberating, the Board votes on an application. A majority of the Board must affirmatively approve an application; otherwise, the application is denied.

Purpose of Proposed Rule

In recent public hearings, it has come to light that many stakeholders are not aware of how the Board’s commissioners review applications, what evidence commissioners consider, and the specific policies the Board has had in place for years to promote the transparency, integrity, and independence of the Board’s rigorous review process.

Accordingly, this rule aims to promote transparency by codifying existing, longstanding policies and practices that the Board has set in place and establishing procedures to ensure adherence to such policies.

To this end, once an application has been filed, the Board’s commissioners do not communicate with applicants, opposing parties or their counsel, elected officials, or other stakeholders regarding the pending application. Moreover, in rendering their decisions, the commissioners do not consider testimony or communications that do not appear in the application record. Because the Board is dedicated to maintaining the transparency of its processes, anyone wishing to view or obtain a copy of the application record—that is, the specific evidence the Board is considering when deliberating on an application and upon which its decision is based—is welcome to do so by contacting the Board’s office or visiting the Board’s website for further instructions.

Finally, the Board is cognizant that its commissioners serve as impartial arbiters, and thus this rule sets forth standards to preserve the integrity of the Board’s decision-making process and to avoid any appearance of impropriety.

The Board of Standards and Appeals’ authority for these rules is found in sections 666 and 1043 of the New York City Charter.


Preventing Conflicts of Interest Among BSA Board Members


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Download Copy of Proposed Rule (.pdf):