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September 6, 2017
by Justin Pascone
Image courtesy the NYC Department of Buildings

Last month, the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) proposed a new rule that would introduce additional fees for processing variations, pre-determinations, and appeals. According to the DOB, these fees would “cover the administrative costs incurred by the Department in reviewing these requests and appeals.” The proposed additional fees include $1,000 for a variation or pre-determination request and $2,500 for an appeal. Continue to read the full proposed rule.

A coalition of industry organizations, including the New York State, Bronx, Brooklyn, New York, Queens, and Staten Island chapters of the American Institute of Architects, the Society of American Registered Architects – New York Council (SARA|NY), Architects Council of New York (ACNY), American Council of Engineering Companies of New York (ACEC New York), and New York State Society of Professional Engineers (NYSSPE) have joined together to voice concern over these proposed fees.

Given the complex nature of our construction, building, and zoning codes, the need for clarification is both common and necessary to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of the public. The NYC Building Code, for instance, acknowledges that when read in conjunction with the plethora of reference documents, potential conflicts and contradictions often arise, given the varied and unique conditions confronted in New York City. The coalition, representing over 35,000 architects, engineers, construction, and allied professionals, believe that additional fees associated with interpreting code should not be required.

The coalition has recognized that additional fees would increase costs and delays to crucial building projects like affordable housing and energy-efficient buildings, where innovative design solutions and new technologies are often developed before they are incorporated into code and zoning, 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.

AIANY and other groups are continuing dialogue with key stakeholders, including the DOB, to address the concerns of our members. In accordance with the rulemaking process, the DOB will hold a public hearing on the proposed rule on 09.14.17 at 2pm in the 3rd floor conference room at 280 Broadway. Comments may also be submitted by mail through the NYC rules website or by email to dobrules@buildings.nyc.gov.

Pulse Points

  • Registration is open for “Public Spaces, Social Movements,” on 09.29.17. The annual conference, organized by local chapters of the American Planning Association, American Institute of Architects, and American Society of Landscape Architects, will explore contemporary issues associated with the civic commons and discuss the future of spaces for public protest. To learn more and register, continue here.
  • Registration is open for the Hyper-Efficient Building Workshops, AIANY and Urban Green Council’s in-depth training on the design of hyper-efficient buildings and compliance with Local Law 31/32. The two-day workshops are limited to 25 participants and open to all architects, designers, engineers, and construction trade professionals. The next workshops are being held on 11.07.17 – 11.08.17 and 11.28.17 – 11.29.17 at the Center for Architecture. To learn more and register, continue here.
  • In preparation of our municipal elections this fall, AIANY, the Urban Green Council, the Real Estate Board of New York, and 32BJ SEIU have partnered on the 2017 Green Building Roadmap, which recommends critical green-energy policy for New York City.
  • The AIANY Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has released their 2017 Policy Framework. The document outlines a series of policy issues and recommended actions on local and regional issues around mobility, placemaking, sustainability, building smarter, and planning/financing.
  • On 08.24.17, NYC launched the New York Land Opportunity Program (NYLOP), the first-ever program to help nonprofits develop properties for affordable housing and community space.

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