Inside the LPC: Public Hearings vs. Public Meetings

So, why do we start this blog post with a photo of the Municipal Building located downtown across from City Hall? We thought we would dedicate some time here at Off the Grid to understanding the workings of the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), the city agency charged with the task of safeguarding historic buildings across the five boroughs. The LPC, or simply “Landmarks” as they are also known, is located on the 9th floor of the Municipal Building at 1 Centre Street.

Here at GVSHP we track several sources in order to keep on top of development and construction in our neighborhoods. For proposed construction work to a landmarked property that requires an LPC public hearing – whether it’s an individual landmark or within an historic district – GVSHP is at hand to monitor those that fall within our catchment area. In addition to our neighborhoods’ many individual landmarks, there are 13 local historic districts, both large and small. Read on to see how you can discover which buildings in your neighborhood are up for review at the LPC!

The screenshot above is of our Landmarks Applications Webpage, which you can access here. This page tracks upcoming Certificate of Appropriateness (C of A) applications that will be heard at the local community board and the LPC. As you can see by the table of contents on the right-hand side, you can also see pending applications (proposals that have been heard at the community board and/or the LPC, but have not yet received full approval from the LPC).

You can sign up for e-alerts on both upcoming and pending applications for the address(es) of your choice; by doing so, GVSHP will notify you by email when these applications are slated to be presented at the LPC, or whenever there is a change in status.

For today’s post, we want to clarify the difference between a public hearing and a public meeting. On our Landmarks Applications Webpage, each individual page has information on upcoming community board and LPC public hearings. The location of the community board hearing usually changes each time, so be sure to take a close look at our page for the latest information (though looking at your respective community board’s page is also helpful). The LPC public hearings, however, are always held on select Tuesdays in the public hearing room on the 9th floor of 1 Centre Street. The only time this isn’t the case is if an application draws a lot of interest from the public and more space is required.

So, what’s the difference between an LPC public hearing and public meeting? A public hearing is the first time an application is heard in front of the LPC’s 11 commissioners. At this hearing, the public is welcome to attend AND testify, either in support or in opposition to the proposal. In many cases, the commissioners will approve the project at this hearing and the application is then closed. The applicant obtains the permit he/she needs and is required to post it outside the subject property.

Sometimes, the application does not receive the commissioners’ approval, and they ask the applicant to work with LPC staff to make suggested revisions before returning to a future public meeting. This was the case for the application at 10 Bond Street (pictured above); the left photo shows the proposed design at the public hearing and the right photo shows the approved design at the public meeting, which incorporated feedback from the LPC commissioners.

At these meetings, the public is allowed to attend, but testimony is not taken. The applicant presents changes to their proposal, and the commissioners either approve it or ask that further revisions be made. In some cases, an application is reviewed at a number of public meetings before meeting approval.

There are no more public hearings or public meetings scheduled for the rest of August. The next scheduled public hearing will be held on Tuesday, September 4th. Stay tuned to our Landmarks Applications Webpage to find out what buildings will be heard in your neighborhood this Fall!


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avatar Amanda is GVSHP's Director of Preservation & Research