City Council plans two hearings before Willets Point vote

UPDATE #2: Tentative appears to be the operative word here.  The second of two hearings on extending term limits has now been scheduled for the same time as the Oct. 17 Willets Point hearing.  No word yet on how the two are going to be juggled, but I’d use pencil on that calendar, not pen.  I’ll post an update once things are settled.

The City Council has announced a tentative schedule for hearings leading up to the Nov. 12 full Council vote on the proposed redevelopment of Willets Point.

The schedule is subject to change, but as of now the legislative body will convene one meeting of the Zoning and Planning, Dispositions & Concessions subcommittees on Oct. 17 followed by one meeting of the Land Use Committee, which will hear and discuss the subcommittee’s recommendation on Oct. 20. These are the only two scheduled public meetings on the topic prior to the full Council’s scheduled vote on Nov. 12.

Here are the details:

  • Friday, October 17, 9:30 AM
    Planning, Dispositions & Concessions Subcommittee;
    Zoning and Franchises Subcommittee
    Dispositions Chair: Daniel R. Garodnick (D-Manhattan)
    Zoning Chair: Tony Avella (D-Bayside)
    Council Chambers – City Hall
  • Monday, Oct. 20, 10 a.m.
    Land Use Committee
    Chair: Melinda Katz (D-Forest Hills)
    Committee Room, City Hall

The October meetings will test the mettle of arguments from both sides of the Willets Point debate and could set the tone for what is expected to be a contentious and controversial City Council vote on Nov. 12.

Melinda Katz is the chair of the City Council Land Use Committee

Melinda Katz is the chair of the City Council's Land Use Committee.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration and its allies will have to change the opinions of some City Council members in order to secure favorable votes from both the Zoning Subcommittee and the Land Use Committee. Of the 31 members of the Council who signed a letter opposing the plan in August, 13 of them serve on the 25-member Land Use Committee while six serve on the 11-member Zoning Subcommittee.

Zoning Subcommittee Chairman Tony Avella has been a leader in the fight against the city plan, blasting the Economic Development Corporation for its negotiating tactics with property owners at Willets Point and the potential use of eminent domain. Land Use Committee Chair Melinda Katz, who did not sign the letter, expressed serious concerns about the city’s wresting power away from the Council when the plan was initially proposed to them in 2007.

The chairman of the Planning, Dispositions & Concessions subcommittee, Councilman Daniel R. Garodnick (D-Manhattan), also signed the letter in opposition of the proposed project.

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