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Talking Points for “Preserving Historic Landmarks” Legislation
Intro 542 Hearing, October 23rd, 11AM
Committee Room, City Hall
click here for LW!'s testimony
  • Intro 542 will change the way the city handles building permits for historic landmarks.
  • Right now, current law allows developers to use previously obtained permits from the Department of Buildings (DOB) to ravage historic buildings even after the structures have been granted landmark status. Too often we have seen unscrupulous owners, who have failed to do the work before landmark status is granted, take advantage of this loophole. Our neighborhoods suffer.
  • This legislation will help preserve the buildings that lend tremendous historic value and character to our neighborhoods. If these buildings are meaningful enough to landmark, then we ought to protect them from owners who intend to destroy them.
  • Under this law, when a building is landmarked, any previous building permit will be suspended unless substantial work or expenditures has previously occurred under that permit.
  • The standard of “substantial expenditures” is well defined in case law, is already used for zoning changes and is not arbitrary. Everything about this process, including the appeals process, is analogous to the standard used to determine if a zoning change would apply to a building where work is already in progress.
  • Once a building is being considered for landmarking, the DOB will review all building plans for the location. This will ensure that all building work is legal and will not jeopardize the building’s safety.
  • The requirement that DOB review plans when Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) is considering a building will neither impose an onerous requirement on owners nor put an undue burden on DOB. For owners, as long as everything is in compliance with the code, work can proceed. For the DOB, only a few hundred buildings are considered by LPC each year and only a portion of these will apply for building permits. At most, there will be an additional 200 set of plans for DOB to review.
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