Monday, May 09, 2011

Prompt but not so forthcoming: City Planning comes up empty when asked about in-house debate re Atlantic Yards and ULURP

So, did any city planners object to the fact that Atlantic Yards bypassed all city review, with the city ceding its Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) to the less stringent state process?

It's one of those lingering questions in the Atlantic Yards saga, given that even former Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff, in hindsight, agreed that was a mistake.

In March, I filed a Freedom of Information Law request with the Department of City Planning and the City Planning Commission, during the years 2002-2006:
Specifically, I request documents, including correspondence, from or to DCP staff/officials and CPC staff/officials, regarding whether and why the Atlantic Yards project should go through ULURP or not. (It did not go through ULURP; the Empire State Development Corporation overrode zoning.)
I thought I might get something substantive; surely someone within the city's planning firmament might have been slightly peeved that such a major project bypassed any city review.

Request granted, response empty

Recently, my request was granted, and I was sent a PDF file containing 30 pages.

However, that file consisted of two documents I've long seen: the 2005 Memoranda of Understanding between the city, state, and Forest City Ratner regarding the initital Atlantic Yards site and the addition of Site 5 (MOU 1, MOU 2).

Only the first MOU was initially made public; the second was made available after Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn filed a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request.

The documents contain no discussion of whether or why the project should go through ULURP, only an explanation of the process involving the Empire State Development Corporation, which would consult with the city regarding its power to override local zoning and other local regulation.

I bet there was some internal discussion at DCP and CPC; it either was deemed not subject to FOIL, or was never put on paper.

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