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City Council Bill Seeks to Exempt Garden Apartments from Local Law 97

New York City

Local Law 97, exemption for garden apartments, Intro. 1037, co-op and condo boards.
May 16, 2023

City Council Member Linda Lee, a Democrat whose northeast Queens district is sprinkled with garden apartments, has introduced a bill that would exempt those campus-like co-ops from Local Law 97. That law, which goes into effect next year, will require many large buildings to reduce their carbon emissions under set caps, or face stiff fines.

“Local Law 97 covers 50,000 buildings across our entire city, many of them the high-rise buildings that were originally intended," Lee tells Habitat. "However, also caught in its scope are garden apartments with large open spaces and green space across multiple low-rise buildings. Many of these buildings are in my district and their residents are middle-income, working class, retirees on fixed incomes. The law was not intended to cover these types of buildings."

As written, Local Law 97 exempts buildings that are "not more than three stories, consisting of a series of attached, detached or semi-detached dwellings, for which ownership and the responsibility for maintenance of the HVAC systems and hot water heating systems is held by each individual dwelling unit-owner." Lee's bill, Intro. 1037, would instead exempt properties that consist of "a series of attached, detached, or semi-detached dwelling units, not more than three stories above grade, which are provided collectively with essential services."

Geoffrey Mazel, a partner at the law firm Hankin & Mazel, and counsel for the pro-Intro. 1037 Presidents Co-op and Condo Council, says that the lawmakers who drafted Local Law 97 had promised that garden apartment complexes would be exempt from the law. "Ironically," Mazel adds "the language that's now in the law helps high-end developments but not the middle-class garden apartments it was intended to help."

A similar bill was introduced last year by Lee's predecessor in District 23, Barry Grodenchik.

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