To the editor:
(re: “New rules are planner’s ‘revenge,’” July 18)
True to its role as the “newspaper of record” for our community, The Riverdale Press has provided timely coverage of the important land use issues that threaten to adversely impact our community, environment, livability and accelerated development activities — specifically city planning’s pending proposed revision of the Special Natural Area District, which it now seeks to call the Special Natural Resources District.
Permit me, however, to refocus your report on testimony presented at the borough president’s public hearing on city’ planning’s SNAD revision (or SNRD proposal).
Following the sound opposition of Staten Island’s community-oriented city council members to city planning’s SNRD proposal (because it was inconsistent with community needs and desires), city planning promptly agreed to gut the proposal’s 200-plus pages of text changes to effectively exclude Staten Island.
What remained was an unintelligible and incoherent jumble, with some textual materials proposed to be deleted, some retained, and overall language generally incomprehensible.
Yet city planning demanded that Community Board 8 discharge its Uniform Land Use Review Procedure responsibilities by voting on that incomprehensible mess. Worse, city planning senior staff refused in writing to meet with the board’s chair and land use chair to provide a measure of clarity, while nonetheless insisting that the full board vote on something that no reasonable volunteer could hope to decipher.
Accordingly, CB8’s members unanimously declined to act as “empty suits” and vote blindly on a proposal that was inaccurate, outdated and unintelligible, adopting instead a detailed resolution making clear that position.
When the issue reached the borough president for review and public hearing, board chair Rosemary Ginty made clear the board’s position. Speaking for myself, I not only enthusiastically endorsed that position, but added my own personal views as to what I sincerely believe is shameful disregard by city planning of its responsibilities to our community.
In my view, it is neither responsible nor proper nor respectful for government to demand that community board volunteers blindly vote on a proposal known by government to be inaccurate, incomplete and unintelligible.
Unfortunately, The Press report — especially the story’s headline — conflated the two statements, warranting this effort at clarification.
The author is chair of Community Board 8’s land use committee.