BATTERY PARK CITY — The owners of Gateway Plaza have backed off a controversial plan to charge dog and cat owners a $250 annual pet fee following an outcry from the community.
Residents of the 1,712-unit Battery Park City complex, along with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, had slammed the fee as unfairly burdening responsible pet owners. He also said the charge violated hundreds of tenants' rent-stabilized leases.
On Tuesday, Greg Tumminia, Gateway's general manager, wrote a letter to residents addressing the widespread concerns with the pet fee and other parts of Gateway's strict new 19-point pet policy, which was quietly unveiled earlier this month.
Tumminia said in the letter that the $250 pet fee would no longer apply, that Gateway would not require cats to be declawed or neutered, and that all tenants would be able to keep their current pets as long as the animals do not "constitute…a nuisance or create…a situation which disturbs or annoys any other tenant or lawful occupant."
"We appreciate your feedback and are confident that these changes will assuage any pending concerns regarding our building's pet policies," Tumminia wrote in the letter, obtained by DNAinfo.com New York.
A spokeswoman for The LeFrak Organization, which owns Gateway, confirmed the decision to drop the pet fee.
In a letter to The LeFrak Organization last Friday, Silver had argued that the pet fee violated a 2009 deal that was supposed to keep Gateway residents' apartments affordable by giving them rent-stabilized leases through 2020.
Glenn Plaskin, president of the Gateway Plaza Tenants Association, said Wednesday that he was glad pet owners would no longer have to pay a fee, but he is still concerned about other pieces of the new pet plan, which would limit tenants to one pet per apartment and ban more than a dozen dog breeds — including pit bulls, German shepherds, Great Danes and Doberman Pinschers — along with any dogs over 40 pounds.
"We're very grateful that they backed down on the $250 fee," said Plaskin, who wrote an acclaimed book about his cocker spaniel, Katie, and her adventures at Gateway. "But they are attempting to prevent any other dogs entering community that don't fit these specifications."
The dog breed and size restrictions will only apply to dogs entering Gateway after the beginning of August, Tumminia said in his letter.
Still, Plaskin and other Gateway dog owners oppose any breed or weight restrictions, because they believe pets should not be banned unless they are causing specific problems.
"That is discriminatory and biased," Plaskin said of the new rules. "This is not a prison camp. It is not a communist state. It is a free dog-loving community."
Plaskin said the tenant association and the Battery Park City Dog Association have requested a meeting with Gateway's management to discuss the new rules but have not received a response.