From the Times Newsweekly:
Legislation to allow developers to quickly restart stalled construction sites by agreeing to increased safety standards while construction is suspended is on the way, announced Mayor Michael Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri.
As noted, the legislation would create a new program within the Department of Buildings where participating builders will be required to notify the Buildings Department when work has stalled and to develop and submit a detailed safety monitoring and inspection plan to ensure the site is secure.
Developers participating in the new program would be allowed to renew building permits at stalled sites for up to four years, as long as the program's safety requirements are met, providing a significant incentive to participate in the program and increase safety at stalled sites.
Permits at stalled sites often expire, forcing developers to start the permitting process from the beginning after new financing is secured, which delays restarting construction and depresses economic activity.
Under the legislation, the safety monitoring plan—required for developers to participate in the program— must include: proposed measures for preventing access by unauthorized persons and monitoring such measures, schedules for inspecting the job site, details for implementation of fire and building safety measures required to protect New Yorkers and first responders and any other provisions the DOB deems necessary to ensure safety at the stalled site.
Currently, construction permits expire and become invalid if the work authorized by the permit has not begun within 12 months of permit issuance or if work is suspended or abandoned for a period of 12 months. Further, if work is suspended for a period exceeding two years, a developer may not be able to achieve any reinstatement of the permit. By agreeing to the increased safety standards, developers would avoid the delays and negative consequences of permit expiration. Participating developers can have permits renewed for two two-year cycles.
Inspectors from the Department of Buildings have identified more than 138 construction sites across the five boroughs that are inactive. The Buildings Department regularly inspects the stalled sites and developers are required to immediately address any safety issues that arise from the lack of activity, such as deteriorated fences, damaged safety netting or loose construction debris. Developers who fail to maintain safe conditions on their job site are subject to violations carrying penalties as high as $25,000.