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Protesters want investigation into city planning commissioners' potential conflicts of interests

Community groups call for an investigation into potential

Community groups call for an investigation into potential conflicts of interests at the City Planning Commission. Photo Credit: Liam Quigley

Community groups battling development across the city brought their fight to the doorstep of the Department of City Planning, where they demanded a halt to upzonings — which pave the way for larger buildings than currently permitted — and an investigation into planning commissioners' potential conflicts of interests.

Speakers at Wednesday's rally claimed the 13-member Planning Commission puts the interests of real estate developers over residents. The commission, which votes on variances, special permits and zoning changes, includes five members appointed by the borough presidents, one selected by the public advocate and seven chosen by the mayor.

“They are pushing more developer rezonings, mostly in communities of color,” said Zishun Ning, with the Coalition to Protect Chinatown and the Lower East Side.

Ning’s group celebrated an injunction earlier this month that put a group of four towers on hold in Two Bridges while the court case proceeds. 

“You can see the rising rents; homelessness is rising; and you can see more and more luxury apartments coming into our neighborhood,” Ning said.

The Planning Commission is "comprised of a diverse group of experts, including architects, attorneys, nonprofit leaders and former Community Board members,” according to Joe Marvilli, a spokesman for the Department of City Planning, which provides technical support to the commission.

“They take their role very seriously in how they vote on or modify proposals,” Marvilli said in a statement.

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