A bill making its way through the City Council would impose deadlines on the 50-year-old Landmarks Preservation Commission in regards to designating landmarks and historic districts. While its sponsor says the bill is supposed to make things more efficient and help the commission deal with its backlog, advocates are concerned that it would hamstring the LPC, and eliminate dozens of items that are being considered as landmarks.
Intro. 775, authored by Queens Councilman Member Peter Koo and Brooklyn Councilman David Greenfield, would impose deadlines on this process. For individual and interior landmarks, the commission would have 180 days to hold a public hearing once an item is calendared and then another 180 days to take action (vote to designate or vote not to designate) once the public hearing is held. For historic districts, it would be one year from calendaring to public hearing and then another year from hearing to designation vote.
The bill, which goes before the council on September 9, also aims to deal with the nearly 100 items (94 buildings and two districts) backlogged at the LPC. Eighty-five percent of these items have been calendared for more than 20 years. Earlier this year, the LPC had proposed de-calendaring all of the backlogged items, but, unsurprisingly, that was met with much public disdain. Instead, the commission backed off and devised a schedule to deal with those items at public hearings organized by borough. The bill would give the LPC 18 months to deal with the entire backlog, but any backlogged items not addressed during that time period would be automatically de-calendared.
There's one more provision in the bill. If the commission fails to designate an item, be it a landmark or a historic district, the property in question would be barred from reconsideration for five years.