NEWS AND ISSUES
Testimony of State Senator Thomas K. Duane Before the New York City Board of Standarads and Appeals Regarding the Application of the Multiple Dwelling Law at 514-516 East 6 Street (Calendar Number 217-09-A)
September 22, 2009
My name is Thomas K. Duane and I represent New York Statefs 29th Senate District, which includes part of the East Village. Although my current districtfs boundaries lie several blocks away from the properties in question, I represented the locations in the New York State Senate prior to the 2002 redistricting. Furthermore, the application of New York Statefs Multiple Dwelling Law (MDL), which is at stake in this appeal, is relevant for my current constituents as well as all New Yorkers. I appreciate the New York City Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) giving me the opportunity to testify on this matter.
I was pleased that the BSA ruled last November that the vertical extensions at 515 East 5 Street and 514-516 East 6 Street violated the MDL, and therefore revoked the New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) permits on these extensions. As I argued in my testimony before you last October, Section 211 of Article 7 of the MDL is very clear: the enlargement of old law tenements is prohibited unless they are brought up to all applicable code requirements governing new construction. The owner of the buildings in question has still not fulfilled these statutory requirements regarding fire protection, egress and other measures. Thus, I am strongly opposed to the appeal being heard today for ten variances to legalize the existing vertical extensions at 514-516 East 6 Street.
The variances that the owner seeks in this appeal undermine the very purpose of the MDL, which is to protect the health and safety of current and future tenants of this property. Granting these variances would set a dangerous precedent and signal to old law tenement owners that they may increase the height of their buildings without complying with strict fire safety and egress requirements. This would not only unacceptably weaken current standards of safety but also circumvent the authority of the New York State Legislature.
For these as well as other reasons you will no doubt hear today, I urge the BSA to deny the appellantfs request for ten variances to allow the enlargement of non-fireproof tenement buildings.