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Zoning Update
BY BRUCE A. SILBERBLATT

Trump Decision
After a wait of more than four months, the New York State Appellate Court unanimously ruled in favor of the Trump World Tower. In substance, it endorsed the decision made by lower court Judge Figueroa that the New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) had acted reasonably in granting approval to this megalith.

According to the courts, the zoning law is so arcane and convoluted that it must be delegated exclusively to the so-called "experts," a self-appointed group of elitists to whom the people of New York, not to mention the court system, must kowtow. This is dangerous precedent indeed.

While the Coalition for Responsible Development intends to pursue the issue to the highest judicial body in the state, the Court of Appeals, its chances of even being heard there are dim. The Court of Appeals seldom will consider a case in which the Appellate Division has ruled, as it has here, unanimously.

In the meantime, Trump World Tower has "topped out" at 861 feet; its dreary shrouding is more than 50 floors high. It is visible from a distance of 15 miles, lording it over the East Side skyline and humbling the United Nations and Turtle Bay. Trump expects the first occupants to take up residency in January 2001.

Unified Bulk Zoning
The process of approval for the Unified Bulk Zoning, which is intended to prevent a repetition of Trump World Tower, has been delayed a month; it is not expected to reach the City Council until September. It still includes a section allowing zoning restrictions to be waived for so-called "outstanding architecture." This is an opportunity for great mischief to be wrought.

Architectural esthetics are highly subjective whereas zoning supposedly is objective; the two do not mix. Who is to determine what is good architecture? Certainly not the New York City architectural community, which has produced an abundance of meretricious buildings. Only a precious few of the past generation of new buildings might in anybody's mind be deemed "great." Architects utter fancy words with little sub-stance. As a case in point, one architect has proclaimed his work to be of cinnamon color and inspired by the great Seagram Building. That worthy is the man who designed Trump World Tower. So much for the idea of architects evaluating their own colleagues' work. Should we defer to these so-called "experts," as the Appellate Court would wish us to do, given their dubious track record here in New York? TBA says NO!

Unified Bulk is, in general, good for the city; the waiver for good design must be stricken from it forthwith. Turtle Bay members are urged, even exhorted, to write their councilmembers (Moskowitz and Miller) to make their views known. (Eva Moskowitz: 370 Lexington Ave., Suite 2001A, NYC 10017; Gifford Miller: 336 East 73rd St., Suite C, NYC 10021.)

Plans for the United Nations
The United Nations has announced its intent, should it raise the money ($1,000,000,000) to so do, to thoroughly rebuild its headquarters. Proposals include a six-story building at the north end of the gardens, an addition atop the library near 42nd Street, and placing 10 or so floors atop the Secretariat (this latter would, ironically, block some of the views from the reviled Trump World Tower).

Since it is in international territory, the United Nations is not required to comply with zoning regulations. Whether it will heed, let alone hear, some input from the community (such as the Turtle Bay Association) remains to be seen.

Additionally, the United States Department of State has announced it will replace the existing U. S. Mission to the United Nations (the only such facility on American soil!) with a newer and, presumably, taller building.
The Turtle Bay Association will monitor both developments closely.

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The Turtle Bay Association is a nonprofit (501c3) community organization.

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