NEWS AND ISSUES
Testimony By New York State Senator Duane before the New York City Board of Standards and Appeals Regarding an Appeal Challenging Department of Buildings' Determination to Deny Reinstatement of Permits that Allowed an Enlargement to an Existing Residential Building at 514-516 East 6 Street
December 6, 2011
My name is Thomas K. Duane and I represent New York State's 29th Senate District, which includes part of the East Village, where 514 and 516 East 6 Street are located. Although my current district's boundaries lie several blocks away from the properties in question, I represented the locations in the New York State Senate prior to the 2002 redistricting. Furthermore, the integrity of New York State's Multiple Dwelling Law (MDL), which is at stake in this hearing, is relevant to my current constituents as well as all New Yorkers. I thank the New York City Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) for giving me the opportunity to testify on the appeal by the owners of the buildings challenging the New York City Department of Buildings' (DOB) determination to deny reinstatement of permits that allowed an illegal enlargement.
As you know, I testified against approval of the vertical extensions at 514-516 East 6 Street at the BSA's October 2008 and September 2009 hearings on this matter. Indeed, my original reasons for opposing the sixth and seventh floor additions – circumvention of crucial State law and failure to comply with fire safety and egress requirements – still stand.
While the BSA ultimately granted variances that would legalize the sixth floor addition, this ruling was contingent upon the owners' installation of all proposed fire safety measures and removal of the seventh floor by February 3 of this year. As of this writing, the owners have neglected to even apply for permits to demolish the seventh floor addition, in contravention of the BSA's stipulation. I believe this disregard for the Board's authority is indicative of their broader disregard for City and State regulations governing the alteration of buildings. Moreover, I am deeply concerned that approval of this appeal – effectively a groundless reversal of the Board's original ruling – would discourage those who would be adversely affected by proposed variances from mounting challenges. As you know, considerable resources are expended by all parties in preparation for these hearings and many residents and neighbors lack the resources to sustain the fight.
For these as well as other reasons you will no doubt hear today, I urge the BSA to uphold its original ruling and deny the applicant's appeal. Again, thank you for allowing me to testify in opposition to this appeal and for your consideration of my comments.