Height of absurdity
Daily News editorial
Whatever possessed Mayor Bloomberg to send Prof. Irwin Corey to testify before the City Council on Thursday about the fatal midtown crane collapse?
What? He didn't send that old master of gobbledegook, double-talk and nonsense?
What? That was Buildings Commissioner Patricia Lancaster who talked in unintelligible circles about the construction project where the accident happened? Sure fooled us.
After stunning the hearing with the statement that the high-rise, designed to have 43 stories, should never have gotten a permit because it did not comply with zoning rules, Lancaster said that, actually, maybe, there were only technical violations.
And then she spewed the thickest of fogs as to what those might be.
Yesterday, it became clear why.
Pressed for explanations, the department fessed up to enormous screwups that may have given the developer the green light to build far higher than he is rightfully entitled to.
The tower, located on E. 51st St. near Second Ave., may be as many as 10 stories too tall for the zoning.
Whoops. Big, big whoops.
It turns out that the structure, much opposed in the neighborhood as an outsized monster, may be on a lot that's too close to Second Ave. to go up 43 stories.
And it turns out that a slice of the property is actually zoned for low-rise construction, not a skyscraper - perhaps barring a tower of this height.
And it turns out, according to the department, that the developer put terraces on the building that extend impermissibly over the adjoining lot.
The result is that the Buildings Department is staring at a whole lot of steel, concrete and glass that likely doesn't belong on E. 51st St. But it's there anyway because the agency gave the okay.
That has put officials in a position of trying to find a way to squeeze the building in under the zoning rules - rather than order the developer to tear some of it down. And risk having the developer file a claim against the city for his losses.
To describe Lancaster as embattled is to put things mildly. She inherited a mess of an agency and, despite some significant reforms, it remains a mess of an agency. Its many deficiencies are thrown into the spotlight every time there's a construction accident. Of which there have been far too many.
And now this.
Here's a humorous fictitious scenario courtesy of Lost City.