Local Law No. 4, the proposed law that would waive the offstreet parking requirement for apartments in basements and accessory buildings and would allow buildings in residential districts that were formerly used for commercial purposes to be used for commercial purposes again, didn't fare well in the public hearing about it on November 13. At the end of the hearing, Council president Claudia DeStefano indicated that she thought the proposed law needed some work.
At tonight's Common Council meeting, there was no mention of the proposed Local Law No. 4 until Steve Dunn, who it seems drafted the law, asked why the Council was taking no action on it. DeStefano told him she was sending it back to the Legal Committee for further consideration based on the input from the public hearing. Michael O'Hara (First Ward), who chairs the Legal Committee, said he didn't think anything could be done in the Legal Committee. He then launched into a defense of the proposed legislation, responding specifically to objections raised by Kristal Heinz in the public hearing. He dismissed the objections made by code enforcement officer Craig Haigh, saying they were "misplaced." He asserted that the proposed legislation was meant to codify what is now common practice by the Planning Board and the Zoning Board of Appeals regarding offstreet parking requirements.
After some discussion, it was decided, given that the proposed legislation has been on the aldermen's desks since August, that the Council would vote on whether or not to enact the legislation. In a roll call vote, Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward), Abdus Miah (Second Ward), Shershah Mizan (Third Ward), and Michael O'Hara (First Ward) voted in aye; DeStefano, Henry Haddad (Third Ward), Alexis Keith (Fourth Ward), Priscilla Moore (Fifth Ward), and Rick Rector (First Ward) voted no. Robert "Doc" Donahue (Fifth Ward) abstained, saying that he didn't understand either the proposed law or the objections to it.
After the vote was taken and the law failed to be enacted, Dunn lamented that people hoping to establish commercial enterprises in buildings that formerly had commercial uses would be inconvenienced. It was then suggested by an audience member (truth be told, it was Gossips) that the law should go back to the Legal Committee to be bifurcated, to separate that part of the proposed law that deals with nonconforming commercial uses from the part that deals with dwelling units in basements and accessory buildings. It was agreed that should happen.
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