Setting the CB8 record straight on SNAD


(re: “CB8 bulldozes through SNAD-destroying plans,” Aug. 17)

In his inaccurately headlined Point of View piece, John Benfatti addresses two Special Natural Area District-related items noticed to be heard at a July 27 Community Board 8 land use committee special meeting.

The first involved a tree removal to make way for a swimming pool. The land use committee had unanimously opposed that application in June, but such opposition required board ratification. 

The second involved the construction of two houses on property adjacent to Fieldston Road. 

In June, the land use committee had directed the owners to meet with the Fieldston Property Owners Association (which opposed the application) and adjacent property owners prior to a final vote. The representative of the Bronx city planning department had advised CB8 that these matters would be addressed by the commission at an August meeting.

Because CB8, like most community boards, does not officially meet in July and August, land use is empowered to act in its stead. To meet the city planning deadline, a special land use meeting was called on the required 10-day notice for July 27 to act on these two SNAD matters, and others that might arise between the mandatory notice date and the meeting date.

On the morning of the July 27 land use meeting, the board office learned — unofficially — that the city planning commission may have on July 25 or July 26 approved both SNAD applications, notwithstanding the unanimous opposition of land use in one case, and its timely scheduled vote on the other. That information was not confirmed by city planning until the beginning of the July 27 meeting, thereby mooting the issue.

To the extent, therefore, that there was “bulldozing,” it was not by CB8.

CB8 has been, and continues to be, a stalwart supporter of SNAD. It is a matter of great pride that Rosemary Ginty, the new chair of CB8 and a recognized planning expert, was an author of SNAD. Indeed, last year, CB8 formed a special committee, chaired by Ms. Ginty, upon hearing that city planning was contemplating a massive (and potentially destructive) overhaul of SNAD.

Ostensibly, city planning was moved, in part at least, by a stated need to make adjustments to address developer and builder concerns, and its own asserted workload, particularly on Staten Island.

Incongruously, SNAD joins Riverdale and Staten Island in a single measure.

Attempts to press either city planning or the city council to separate the two (to eliminate this excuse for destructive action) have thus far been met by resistance by one, and inaction by the other.

CB8 and its special committee continue to be willing to review and discuss with city planning its SNAD proposals. However, CB8 has long been on record as supporting SNAD and its vigorous enforcement.

That will again be addressed at a forthcoming land use meeting.

The author is a member of Community Board 8, and is chair of the board’s land use committee.