Historically, development projects spearheaded by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), on MTA-owned property, have been exempt from local zoning ordinances if pursued for “transportation purposes” (e.g., train and bus infrastructure). However, in April 2016, the definition of “transportation purposes” was expanded to include revenue-generating projects that help to cover development costs.
On November 21, 2016, the Municipal Arts Society of New York (MAS NYC) summoned the public to express support for a piece of legislation that would temper the scope of MTA development—Senate Bill 8037 (Assembly Bill 10421). This legislation aimed to repeal the “transportation purposes” definition and, thereby, prevent unrestricted development on MTA-owned land throughout New York City. According to MAS NYC, the MTA owns approximately 656 sites (221 are zoned residential), which encompass 41 million square feet of land.
Governor Cuomo had until 12 midnight on November 28th to sign the bill into law. We have since learned that he vetoed this valuable legislation. The accompanying image illustrates the kind of out-of-scale monstrosity that may now sprout before our eyes.