In a significant pushback against New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ ambitious plan to expedite casino approvals in New York City, Community Board 4‘s land use committee unanimously rejected the proposed amendment on December 13.
Community Boards Challenge City Officials Over Casino Proposal Bypass
Community boards, such as CB4 representing Hell’s Kitchen and Chelsea, play a crucial role in ULURP, offering advisory opinions on land use plans. Delores Rubin, an outspoken board member, expressed criticism toward the city officials, stating that they had been shaming city planning for relinquishing all responsibilities to the state. She underscored the significance of community input in the decision-making process, reported The City, a non-profit digital news organization.
Hell’s Kitchen resident David Korman echoed these sentiments, condemning the proposed amendment during a video conference, asserting that ULURP was designed to democratize the planning process. Korman argued that the amendment would exclude both the community and city planning professionals from the decision-making table.
The Planning Department justifies the removal of ULURP for casino proposals, citing the duplication of the state’s review process. Under the proposed changes, each casino proposal would be subject to scrutiny by a newly established Community Advisory Committee (CAC). This committee, composed of six members, including the Mayor, Governor, borough president, and local state representatives, aims to conduct public meetings and approve casino applications before reaching the state’s Gaming Facility Location Board.
Officials Defend Casino Proposal Amid Community Concerns
City Planning spokesperson Casey Berkovitz defended the amendment, stating it is a more effective utilization of time and resources within the city. The goal is to create a level playing field for New York City applicants to compete with proposals elsewhere in the state, according to Dan Garodnick, director of the city planning agency.
However, concerns about the potential impact of gaming facilities on local communities have surfaced. Critics argue that the amendment may allow for large hotels without city planning oversight and could be detrimental to neighborhoods.
Despite these concerns, Mayor Adams, supported by City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, emphasized the economic opportunities associated with casinos, citing a potential annual revenue of $5.3 billion.
While approximately a dozen casino proposals are in the pipeline, only nine are specific to New York City, including locations in Midtown Manhattan, Coney Island, The Bronx, and Queens. Notably, some proposals, like the one near Citi Field, may still require state legislature approval due to parkland considerations.
The fate of the amendment now rests with the City Planning Commission, where questions about its potential drawbacks and the necessity of ULURP for certain cases have already been raised. If approved, the proposal will proceed to the City Council and Mayor Adams for final consideration.