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2 candidates emerge for Land Use chief.

2 candidates emerge for Land Use chief

Two members of the Land Use Committee of the New York City Council have been confirmed, by a council staffer, to be the leading choices for chairmanship of the powerful body.

A spokesperson for the council said Councilwoman June M. Eisland (D-Bronx) and Councilman Archie Spigner (D-Queens) are the "front runners" for the job.

The $22,500-a-year post was vacated by Councilman Jerry Crispino (D-Bronx) who left the job to be a judge.

The Land Use Committee, with its three subcommittees, was created in response to the revised city charter, which placed the major authority for public and private land use in the hands of the City Council.

The lucky member of the council will first have to be nominated by the Speaker and then voted on by the Rules, Priveledges and Elections Committee. Nominations are expected the first week of January.

In addition to being related to ability and seniority, geography is known to be a factor in the selection. Committees have traditionally been divided between the boroughs. Since the position was previously held by Bronx Councilman Crispino, and the head of the weighty Rules Priveledges and Elections Committee, Morton Povman, is from Queens, geographic elements bode well for Eisland.

If the job is seen as a reward for party loyalty, however, Spigner and Eisland may be tied since he is the Majority Whip and she the Deputy Majority Whip.

Both full-time council members, the candidates are non-attorneys who hold other chairmanships within the council. Eisland is head of the Transportation Committee and Spigner is chair of Housing and Buildings.

REW spoke to Eisland and Spigner about their opinions on development and land use. Both consider themselves "pro-development" favoring balanced, non-speculative projects. Since applications for new construction have been few, the land use committee, since its formation, has been occupied with tax abatements, ULAP, UDAP applications, the alternative management program, and landmarks. Spigner and Eisland both say, however, they would like to see development get rolling again in the city.

Government by Way

of Trade Unions

"I'm pro-development," said Spigner. "I'm for whatever is going to help contribute to the vibrancy and vitality of the city."

Spigner, first elected to the council in 1973, has been head of the Housing and Buildings Committee for four years. The committee oversees the legislation and the rules of the Buildings Department and has some authority over building and construction in the city. He is also a member of the Finance, Consumer Affairs, Standards and Ethics and Rules, Privileges and Elections Committees and the Select Committee on the Homeless.

Spigner represents the 17th Council District in Queens which has approximately 210,000 residents and includes the areas of: St. Albans, Hollis, Jamaica, Laurelton, Rosedale, Rochdale Village, Adisleigh Park, Cambria Heights, Queens Village and South Ozone Park.

The councilman got involved in organized politics through his work with the trade union movement. He held leadership positions in the Transport Workers Union, the Amalgamated Transit Union and the United Shoeworkers of America.

On the subject of landmarks, Spigner said, he realizes the need to preserve certain structures for prosperity can sometimes limit their usefulness.

"Sometimes there are instances where the idealist or the prudent [concerns] of the committee or the committee staff members go beyond the practical and prudent considerations," Spigner said.

If there is an objection by the property owner, Spigner said, he goes to visit those properties.

The councilman said turning down the landmark status for the Antonin Dvorak House, which the council did, was a "responsible" decision. The building will be used by Beth Israel Hospital for an AIDS hospice and it will bear a commemorative plaque to Dvorak.

The Land Use Committee has been busy, Spigner said, working with the Site Selection Subcommittee, chaired by Noach Deer, in finding locations for the homeless shelters the mayor has proposed. Spigner said he supports the fair distribution of "burdens and benefits" outlined by the charter. Before "less expensive areas", he said, often became "dumping grounds" for social services.

For example, he said, Queens Community Board 12, in Spigner's home district, has 50 percent of the homeless population in the borough and they have been slated to get 2 more sites.

Spigner said we must differentiate between the traditional definition of homeless - those displaced by fire or other disaster - and those that suffer from mental illness or alcoholism who need additional services. Once you separate out those with complex problems and put them in a different setting, he said, "The remaining might be more easily placed."

On whether or not he is anxious to head the Land Use Committee, Spigner said: "If nominated, I'll run. If selected, I'll serve."

Eisland Headed Community

Planning Board

"I believe development is the engine that drives this city, but it has to be rational," said Councilwoman Eisland. "You can't do it at the moment. There has to be long-range planning."

A member of the council since 1979, Eisland's district includes: Kingsbridge, Kingsbridge Heights, Fordham Hill, Riverdale, Woodlawn and parts of Bedford Park, Marble Hill and Wakefield. Co-op City was part of her district until the recent redistricting.

The councilwoman arrived at elected office via community board work. Other positions, she was formerly the chair of Community Planning Board 8.

Eisland said she is a proponent of landmarks, but proposed designations, she said, are sometimes "overreaching." While Eisland also voted against the landmarking of the Antonin Dvorak House, she voted in favor of the Tribeca Historic District. She did support, however, excluding some properties that were on the periphery. Eisland said she helped in the effort to create the first historic landmark district in the North Bronx - the Riverdale Historic District. The approximately 100 homeowners there, she said, were in favor of the landmarking, but one owner objected because his house was built later than the others. As a result, Eisland said, they created a two-tier system that created a cutoff date for newer properties. When asked if she supported doing the same for commercial owners, Eisland said, the idea had never been presented to her.

Eisland says she believes in zoning and planning that will prevent residential areas from becoming overbuilt. While chairing Community Planning Board 8, she said, the board created "a master plan" for the Riverdale, Kingsbridge, Kingsbridge Heights, Marble Hill, and Van Cortland Village areas. It was this master plan, she said, that led her to vote against the Tibbetts Gardens project in the Bronx. The area surrounding the project was in need of more schools, she said, and more housing units would have intensified that need.

While Eisland said she would gladly accept the new position, if not chosen, she would continue to enjoy her position at transportation. Eisland said she has been a leader in forging alternate forms of transportation such as water-borne transportation. She also believes transportation should be an integral part of land use planning residential and commercial uses.

On the issue of party loyalty, Eisland acknowledged that she "works well with leadership." She said, however, that she is a moderate.

"That doesn't mean I don't reserve my right to disagree," she said. "I consider myself someone who considers each project on the merits."
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:June M. Eisland and Archie Spigner
Author:Fitzgerald, Therese
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Dec 11, 1991
Words:1200
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