NEW YORK CITY — A new City Council bill is putting pressure on developers behind noisy construction sites by making information about their mitigation plans more accessible to neighbors.
Councilman Dan Garodnick, who represents much of the east side of Manhattan, introduced on Thursday a bill that would require the Department of Environmental Protection to post noise mitigation plans for construction sites on its website, and would require developers to post the plans on construction fences in clear view.
Every construction site in the city is required to develop a noise mitigation plan, or a strategy to reduce the impact of noise on its surroundings. Methods of noise mitigation include the use of quieter jackhammers and muffling equipment, and the plans also detail the expected time frame of a construction project.
But the plans are not easily found by neighbors, according to Garodnick and residents. The DEP is in charge of signing off on mitigation plans, so the only way to get a copy is for neighbors to contact the agency or the onsite contractor directly — which Garodnick calls an unnecessary barrier for residents most affected by the noise.
“We constantly have construction running up against the demands of residents, so we’re trying to strike a balance that allows work to proceed but also doesn't ruin people’s lives in the process,” he said. “If the public is in the dark about what is required, they have less of a basis to complain.”
The bill was welcome news to resident Scott Rifkin, whose building overlooks the entrance plaza to the Queens Midtown Tunnel, where neighbors have complained repeatedly about construction noise from the work there.
In August, Rifkin asked an MTA official to provide the noise mitigation plan for the site, but was told the contractor would first have to waterproof its copy before posting the plan in plain view, according to emails forwarded to DNAinfo.
To Rifkin, that was evidence enough that the city has to do more to make the plans accessible to neighbors.
“I think that would be phenomenal, because we’d see that the plan exists and they’re not just saying it’s there,” he said. “I think it would make them more accountable. If we can get it all in one place, the mitigation plan, the timeframe for the work, that would give us more of an ETA for the project.”