A city councilwoman is taking her opposition to residential developments planned for the Lower East Side to a new level. Margaret Chin introduced legislation Thursday that would change the way city government handles rezoning proposals and give elected officials even more power to block new projects. If the law is approved, Chin could use it to try to dictate the size and scale of three long-planned waterfront towers just north of the Manhattan Bridge in the Two Bridges neighborhood.
Typically rezonings must go through a lengthy vetting process with the Department of City Planning before they are made public. In certain cases the bill would allow the mayor, borough presidents and the City Council's Committee on Land Use to skip the so-called preapplication process, which can last up to a year. Such a change would give politicians a huge advantage over private developers.
Chin plans to use the altered rules to immediately introduce a zoning tweak that would force the developers of the three towers to go through the public-review process. That would give Chin the power to kill the proposals unless the developers meet her demands, which would likely entail scaling back the height of the buildings and thus reduce their residential density. Without the legislative tweak, Chin would never get this change approved in time to quash the projects.