Language adopted in the 2016-2017 New York State budget would grant the Metropolitan Transportation Authority broad powers to override local regulations on land it owns. Prior to the new language, the MTA had to abide by local zoning regulations on its properties unless a “true transportation use” necessitated an override. New language adopted this spring that uses a broader “transportation purpose” standard implies the MTA will be able to override local regulations whenever there is a purpose deemed to support the agency’s mission. Such purposes may include large revenue-generating development projects to cross-subsidize the MTA.
The broad “transportation purpose” standard could give the MTA nearly unilateral land use control of its sites. Local input is critical to the success of communities, and substantially better scopes for development projects often result from robust community processes. That is why Regional Plan Association is urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign Assembly Bill A10421/Senate Bill 8037 to repeal the “transportation purpose” language that would allow the MTA to ignore local zoning regulations when developing land under its control.
Pierina Sanchez, New York director of Regional Plan Association, said of the bill: “We understand the desire to promote more density at transit stations, as this is where more people and more activity belongs. We also understand the need to generate additional revenue streams for the MTA. But the best way to accomplish this is through collaboration by government agencies, elected officials and communities.”