Board 10 Members Support City Going ‘Green’

February 16, 2012 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Eagle

Bay Ridge — New York City is going green and Community Board 10 likes it!

The board voted to support a proposal by the Department of City Planning (DCP) to change the zoning law to make it easier for property owners to retrofit buildings to make the structures more energy efficient.

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The vote, which took place at last month’s board meeting, is the board’s official response to the DCP. The agency is seeking feedback from each of the city’s 59 community boards.

Ann Falutico, chairman of the board’s Zoning and Land Use Committee, called the DCP proposal “a major change.”

The agency’s goal is to “promote green buildings by removing zoning impediments,” Falutico, an architect, said.

The DCP came out with its proposals in December. If the DCP’s proposals are adopted, property owners will have an easier time installing solar panels, wind turbines, and other alternative energy equipment, officials said.

The proposal has six main components.

The DCP is advocating that property owners be allowed to install solar panel on flat roofs anywhere below the parapet, regardless of the height of the building. The solar panels would still be allowed on sloping roofs, but they would have to be mounted at less than 18 inches high.

Property owners would be permitted to install wind turbines on the roof if the building is higher than 100 feet. The turbines must be set back at least 10 feet.

Property owners would be able to build green roofs, recreational decks and skylights anywhere below the parapet, regardless of the height of the building.

Under the proposal, a greenhouse would be exempt from height limits and regulations on floor area space, provided the greenhouse is located on the top of a building that does not contain residences.

Property owners wishing to insulate their walls to make the building more energy efficient would be permitted to do so, even if it would mean that the walls extend farther out than current zoning laws allow. Insulated walls lower heating costs, Falutico said.

Awnings above the ground floor of a building could project out two to six feet from the building. Awnings are often used as sun control devices, officials noted.

While Board 10 voted to approve the zoning change proposal, members did express concern over the idea of installing wind turbines on roofs. The board will recommend that the city add more restrictions as to the height of the turbines and that property owners seeking to install turbines standing over 35 feet in height be required to apply a special permits.

The proposed zoning change is part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s PlaNYC initiative, a long-term project to make the city into an environmentally-friendly city with cleaner air, more trees, and more energy-efficient buildings.

The DCP proposal is currently under review by the city’s 59 community boards. Each of the five borough presidents will hold public hearings on it and offer their recommendations. After that, the City Planning Commission will hold hearings and vote on it.

The DCP is a city agency that makes recommendations on zoning measures and ways to improve the city. The City Planning Commission an appointed body which has decision making power on the DCP’s recommendations.

The final step in the zoning change process will come when the City Council holds hearings and votes on it.

“The zoning text will give homeowners and building owners more choices to make investments that save money, save energy, and improve the quality of our environment, bringing our aging buildings into the 21st Century,” City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden said.

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