Builders, Advocates Press For Land Use Changes

At its last full meeting on June 9, the New York City Council dealt with legislation on taxi licenses, property taxes and health insurance for spouses of prison guards. But what dominated its agenda was land—deciding what could be built on it and how it could be used.There was an application for a sidewalk café in the west forties, a measure creating an urban development action area in the Bronx’s Belmont section and a special zoning permit on Kosciuszko Street in Brooklyn. With a rapid set of votes, the City Council executed its role in the city’s multilayered land-use process.What’s wrong with that process? A lot, according to both developers and the community advocates—the belligerents in many land use battles. On Thursday evening both sides will pitch their ideas for reform to the city’s Charter Revision Commission, which is considering changes to the city’s 400-page constitution.Thursday’s meeting—to be held at 6 p.m. at the Flushing Branch of the Queens Borough Public Library, located at 41-17 Main Street in Flushing—is the last of five “issues forums” that the commission called to study parts of the charter that might warrant change.

Government Integrity Is Charter Panel's Focus

Mayor Bloomberg, at left, speaks in front of a giant Mayor Bloomberg, at right, during the 2009 campaign. Some public testimony to the Charter Revision Commission held that the mayor's influence looms too large of the Conflict of Interest Board and other entities. Photo by: Jarrett Murphy

The charter commission hears from experts as it considers whether the city's ethics monitors are sufficiently independent. By: Jarrett Murphy

During its first round of public hearings, the city's Charter Revision Commission heard more than one speaker suggest that it was inappropriate for the city's Conflicts of Interest Board—which largely regulates the mayor and his appointees—to be composed entirely of mayoral appointees. On Wednesday evening, the commission will take up that concern, and hear from experts.

Question Facing Beeps, Public Advocate: To Be Or Not To Be

The New York City Charter Revision Commission meets Thursday night to hear testimony about whether borough presidents and the public advocate should vanish or get more power.The hearing at 6 p.m. at Staten Island Technical High School, 485 Clawson Street, is the third in a series of five “issues forums” where the 15 commissioners are hearing from experts on topics where charter changes are possible. Forums on term limits and voter participation have already been held. Sessions on public integrity and land use remain. Testimony on Thursday will be heard from Baruch College Professor Doug Muzzio, Hofstra Law School’s Eric Lane, former chair of Manhattan Community Board 2Manha Brad Hoylman, former deputy mayor and current CUNY official Marc V. Shaw, and Gerald Benjamin of SUNY New Paltz. Public comments will be taken after the experts have testified.