Will there be another time when the developers themselves field questions from the public directly?
The development teams will respond directly to comments at the Community Board’s hearing on the project. In addition, the development teams will prepare written responses to questions asked at the next community engagement meeting. In the meantime, you can submit questions by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why is the Department of Education not involved in the process?
If significant adverse impacts on schools are identified, the Department of City Planning will consult with the School Construction Authority and the Department of Education regarding appropriate mitigation measures.
Is there a time by which EIS must be completed? Can the public get some slightly more specific dates soon?
The Draft EIS must be completed before the projects are referred from the City Planning Commission to the Community Board, and then the Final EIS will need to be completed before the City Planning Commission votes on the project. There is no deadline for these actions to occur, but we anticipate that the Draft EIS will be completed late this summer and the Final EIS will be completed by the end of the year.
What’s the “minor modification” of the “Large-scale Development Plan” that required the EIS process?
A “minor modification” to an existing special permit is needed when changes to an approved site plan or other conditions of a development are required, but the development would comply with the underlying zoning. “Minor modifications” are not subject to the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP). Here, development of the proposed projects would require changes to the amount of floor area, lot area, number of dwelling units and other features of the special permit, but all of the projects would comply with and not require any waivers or modifications of underlying zoning. Accordingly, they require “minor modifications” to the existing Large Scale Development Plan.
Concerns about having enough time for the public to review the DEIS: 1 month is not enough, hopefully this can be at least 60 to 90 days. Please confirm.
At a minimum, the public will have 45-60 days to review and comment on the Draft EIS (“DEIS”) at the Community Board stage of the review process. Thereafter, the public will have additional opportunities to comment at a public hearing held by the City Planning Commission and to submit written comments as well. The overall public review period for the Draft EIS can be expected to last approximately three to four months.
Is the post scoping session open to the public?
Yes, the community engagement meeting after scoping will be open to the public.
Is there going to be a written report on EIS?
The EIS is a written document that will be available to the public on the DCP website.
How is the EIS going to be discussed at a public meeting?
A public hearing on the Draft EIS will be held by the Department of City Planning after the Draft EIS is published. Members of the public will have an opportunity to speak at the public hearing, and written comments will be accepted for a period of at least 10 days after the hearing.
Once the EIS is complete, when will the results be available?
Once the Department of City Planning (City Planning) is satisfied that the EIS is complete, it will be posted on City Planning’s website within 24 hours.
How do we enforce the mitigation?
Mitigation measures are typically enforced using a binding legal instrument, known as a ‘Restrictive Declaration’ that is signed by an applicant if the City Planning Commission (CPC) approves a project. Declarations require mitigation measures to be implemented before building permits are issued, before the buildings can be occupied, or before certain other milestones, as appropriate. Declarations are publicly recorded and will be a requirement of any future development regardless of the owner.
Pratt did an environmental impact study - why not use that?
The Pratt Center/Collective Partnership prepared the Plan for Chinatown and Surrounding Areas for the Chinatown Working Group in 2013. The Pratt study analyzes urban planning topics throughout a broad geography spanning from Lower Manhattan to 14th Street, and does not specifically study environmental impacts. Moreover, the Pratt study does not consider the potential impacts of the three proposed projects, and therefore does not meet the requirements of an EIS that can be used by the CPC under the City and State environmental quality review regulations.
What is a minor vs. major modification?
These are two types of approvals that City Planning can grant when there are already special permits in place. A major modification is needed when a proposed building requires changes to or waivers of the underlying zoning district regulations. A minor modification is needed when a proposed building complies with the underlying zoning, and only needs to change an approved site plan or other special permit requirements. Major modifications require ULURP, and minor modifications do not. In this case, each of the proposed developments would comply with the underlying C6-4 (R-10 equivalent) zoning regulations which govern the sites. The modifications needed to facilitate the projects relate to site plan and other controls of the Two Bridges Large Scale Development Plan special permit, but do not relate to underlying zoning regulations. Accordingly, the projects require minor modifications. The minor modification process involves community board review, followed by review by the City Planning Commission.
It is unclear to most residents what the starting point for the cumulative effects of the impact study is; does the EIS take into account the Extell building? Does the EIS assume that each building is built?
The Extell building will be considered in the EIS as it is likely be occupied before completion and occupancy the three proposed projects. The EIS will, therefore, study the cumulative impacts of the three proposed projects, taking into account both existing conditions and the anticipated effects of the Extell building. For example, in the case of traffic analysis, the EIS will consider whether the traffic generated by the three proposed projects, when layered on top of the traffic that will be generated by the Extell building and other area buildings, has the potential to generate traffic impacts. This is an appropriate way of taking the Extell building and its residents into account, since the Extell Building is not itself the subject of the EIS.
How are the draft scope and EIS being released to public? How will they be made aware of the documents?
The Draft Scope of Work, the Scoping Meeting Notice, the Final Scope of Work, the Draft EIS, and the Final EIS all will be posted on the Department of City Planning’s website at http://www1.nyc.gov/site/planning/applicants/scoping-documents.page and http://www1.nyc.gov/site/planning/applicants/eis-documents.page. The Scoping Meeting Notice also will be published in local newspapers. We will advise the community on the EIS website (http://www.twobridgeseis.com/) once these documents are posted and will inform the elected officials.
What is most important about this EIS and what is prioritized?
In this EIS, the potential effects of the three independent projects will be studied cumulatively (i.e., together) to identify the potential for significant adverse impacts and to determine appropriate mitigation measures. By analyzing the potential of the effects of the three projects together, rather than through separate environmental reviews for each project, the EIS will provide a more complete picture of the potential for impacts.
The full range of potential environmental impacts will be considered, consistent with the City’s guidelines for all environmental reviews (i.e., the CEQR Technical Manual). The EIS will cover the potential impacts relating, for example, to air quality, traffic, noise, schools and socioeconomic conditions. While no single category is prioritized over others, any area where the potential for significant adverse impacts is identified will receive additional scrutiny in the EIS. This work, in conjunction with input that we receive from the community, will help ensure that appropriate mitigation measures are identified.
What is the timeline? How can community voices be heard?
The community will have the following opportunities to comment on the projects and the EIS:
At the remaining community engagement meetings to be held this spring.
At the Scoping Meeting and in written comments to the Department of City Planning on the Draft Scope of Work. The Draft Scope will be published and made available for community review in advance of the Scoping Meeting. The Scoping Meeting is expected to occur in April.
At the Community Board meeting on the projects. The timing of this meeting is presently unknown and it will be scheduled by the Community Board.
At the City Planning Commission Public Hearing on the Draft EIS, and in written comments to City Planning on the Draft EIS. The hearing on the Draft EIS will be scheduled at the time that the Draft EIS is published. We anticipate this happening in the fall of 2017.
How will the EIS define the study area? Some topics are subjective (e.g. socioeconomic conditions, transportation, etc.).
The EIS will follow the guidelines of the CEQR Technical Manual, which provides the methodologies that are used for all New York City environmental reviews. The Draft Scope of Work will identify the study areas, which may differ according to the technical areas to be studied in the EIS. For example, the study area for analysis of open space may differ from the study area for traffic analysis. The Draft Scope of Work will be subject to public comment and the study areas may then be adjusted in the Final Scope of Work.
Why doesn't the EIS study take place before the buildings are designed, and then the results can be brought to the public for review and additional feedback?
In order to provide a meaningful study of the potential for impacts, the EIS must consider the potential effects of specific proposals. The analysis could not be done without knowing the location, massing, height, approximate unit count and other aspects of the proposed projects.
Is there a specific deadline for the submission of the EIS draft to the City Planning Department? The Draft EIS is in preparation.
There is no specific deadline for submission of a completed EIS draft to the Department of City Planning (DCP or City Planning).
When the EIS will be drafted, what is the purpose for us to participate the next meetings? Is it meaningful?
The public will have an opportunity to comment on the Draft EIS at a public hearing to be held by the City Planning Commission. Comments can address the contents of the analyses, the potential impacts of the proposed projects, and the mitigations being considered. The Final EIS will include responses to these public comments, together with any modifications to the EIS that the lead agency (City Planning) determines are necessary as a result.
What is the difference between a Restrictive Declaration and a Community Benefits Agreement?
A Restrictive Declaration is a legal instrument that imposes restrictions on the use and development of land. As a condition to its approval, the City Planning Commission may require a developer to enter into a Restrictive Declaration as a means to ensure, for example, that development occurs in accordance with approved site plans and mitigation measures are implemented. It is recorded in the City’s land records and therefore binds present and future property owners. A Community Benefits Agreement is a private agreement between a developer and community groups, whereby a developer agrees to provide certain benefits or amenities to the community or these groups in conjunction with its project. Community Benefits Agreements are not required as part of New York City’s land use process.
Do we have CBA in this process?
A Restrictive Declaration will be prepared for this project, but Community Benefits Agreements are not required as part of New York City’s land use process.
Is the EIS a public document afterwards?
The Draft EIS will be published online when DCP has determined that it is complete.
What is a mitigation?
A mitigation is a measure that may be required in order to eliminate or minimize a significant environmental impact.
Is it possible that the impacts from the projects will be so big that the developers will be unwilling to pay the costs of mitigation? What happens then?
The determination of what mitigations are feasible is made by the lead agency (City Planning), not the applicants.
Who pays for mitigations? What if the developers don’t want to pay for it?
Developers are generally responsible for the costs of mitigation measures that are required in order to minimize or eliminate the significant impacts of their projects. Typically, such mitigation measures must be implemented during construction or prior to occupancy of a new building. Developers cannot choose whether to implement mitigations that the lead agency determines are both feasible and necessary to address impacts.
What happens if impacts are identified and the City has no money or plan to address them?
The City is required to develop a plan to address impacts but may conclude that there are certain significant adverse impacts for which there are no practicable mitigation measures. Developers are generally responsible to pay for the costs of mitigation measures. See responses to #7 and #8, above.
Can the developers decide which mitigations they are willing to pay for?
Lead agencies, in consultation with the expert agencies, decide which mitigation measures are required.
When are mitigations implemented?
Mitigation measures are generally implemented during construction or before certificates of occupancy are issued for a building.
How does the City make sure that mitigations get implemented?
Restrictive Declarations and other legal controls (e.g., E Designations for noise, stationary air quality and hazardous materials) are used to ensure that mitigation measures are implemented, for example, before a temporary certificate of occupancy is issued.
What happens if mitigations like transit improvements are implemented, but they don’t work because of even more development in the future?
Mitigation measures are required in order to address the significant adverse impacts of a project. In determining the potential for a project to have impacts, the EIS takes into account other known developments anticipated to be completed at the time the project is built and becomes operational. However, EIS mitigations are not designed to address the possibility of future development that may occur after a project is built.
Will the developers perform the mitigation work or just pay for them to be performed by an agency?
Depending on the types of impacts and mitigation measures that are required, the City Planning, in consultation with the relevant agencies, will determine whether payment or direct construction is appropriate.