A History of Tenement House Legislation in New York 1852-1900 Part VI
 

By Lawrence Veiller
 
 
(1862) — Chapter 356, Section 36.

"The department created under this act (the department for the survey and insertion of buildings) shall have full power in passing upon any question relative to the mode, manner of construction or materials to be used in the erection, alteration, or repair of any building in the city of New York, where the same is not specially provided for herein to make the same conform to the true intent, meaning and spirit of the several provisions thereof; and shall also have discretionary power upon application therefore to modify or vary any of the several provisions of this act to meet the requirements of special cases, where the same do not conflict with public safety and the public good, so that substantial justice may be done; but no such deviation shall be permitted except a record of the same shall be kept by said department, and a certificate be first issued to the party applying for the same, such certificate shall be issued only upon an order first being obtained therefore upon a sworn petition setting forth the facts upon application to a special term of the supreme court in the city of New York, said supreme court hereby being authorized to grant such order in its discretion."

(1866) — Chapter 873, Section 33. —Continued.

(1871) —Chapter 625, Section 31. — Continued.

(1874) — Chapter 547, Section 8.


Provisions of previous laws amended as follows: The provision giving to the Department of Buildings the power to modify the law reenacted, down to the words " applying for the same," ' the rest of this section is very materially changed, the supreme court no longer being the body to grant such changes in the law. The following section is all new matter:

"Such certificates shall be issued only upon an application setting forth the facts sworn to by the applicant, and after said application shall have been passed upon favorably by a board of examiners consisting of the superintendent of buildings, a member of the examining committee of the New York Chapter of American Institute of Architects, one of the ex-presidents of the New York Board of Underwriters, and two members of the Mechanics & Traders' Exchange of said city, one of the latter of whom shall be a master carpenter and one a master mason; all of whom, except said superintendent shall be selected by their respective organizations, and so certified by the proper officers to the said superintendent; no application shall be considered as passed by said board unless the same receive three affirmative votes; no member of said board shall pass upon any question in which he is pecuniarily interested. The said board shall meet upon notice from the said superintendent who shall be chairman of the board, and shall keep the record of its proceedings, which shall be filed in the office of the said department. The members of said board, excepting the said superintendent, shall each be entitled to and shall receive $10 for each attendance at a meeting of said board to be paid by the comptroller of the city of New York from the contingent fund of said department upon the voucher of said superintendent, but in no case shall they be entitled to receive compensation for more than two meetings in any one month."

(1882) — Chapter 410, Section 504.

Provisions of the law of 1874 continued with the following slight changes: Wherever the word "superintendent" occurs, substitute the word " inspector," and wherever the words " building department" occur substitute the words "bureau of buildings of the fire department;" also, instead of the Superintendent of Buildings being required to act as clerk of the Board of Examiners it is provided that the Chief Clerk of the Bureau of Buildings shall act as clerk of the said Board and keep the record of its proceedings.

(1885) —Chapter 456, Section 31.

"The superintendent of buildings shall have full power (except as herein otherwise provided for) in passing upon any question relative to the mode, manner of construction, or materials to be used in the erection or alteration of any building or other structure provided for in this title, in any part of the city of New York, to make the same to conform to the true intent and meaning of the several provisions thereof. He shall also have power to vary or modify the provisions of this title, upon application therefore in writing, only in case of alteration of old buildings, or the use of party walls belonging to different owners, where the same cannot be taken down, and where there are practical difficulties in the way of carrying out the strict letter of this law, so that the spirit of the law is observed, the public safety secured, and substantial justice done; but no such deviation shall be permitted except a record of the same shall be kept by the said superintendent of buildings, and a certificate be first issued to the party applying for the same; such certificate shall not be issued until a board of examiners consisting of a member of the New York chapter of American Institute of Architects, one member of the New York Board of Underwriters, two members of the Mechanics and Traders' Exchange of said city, one member of the Society of Architectural Iron Manufacturers of said city, and one member of the Real Estate Owners and Builders' Association of said city, who shall be an architect or builder, all of whom shall be appointed by their respective organizations (and so certified to annually to said superintendent of buildings) shall also approve the proposed modifications of the law. The said examiners shall each take the usual oath of office before entering upon the performance of their duties.

The superintendent shall be ex-officio a member of said board and be chairman thereof. No vote of concurrence shall be passed by said board unless the same shall receive four affirmative votes. In cases in which it is claimed by an owner, in person or by his representative, that the provisions of this title do not directly apply, or that an equally good and more desirable form of construction can be, employed in any specific case than that required by this title, then such person shall have the right to present a petition to the board of examiners, and may appear before said board and be heard; and said board shall consider such petition in its regular order of business, and as soon as practicable render a decision thereon. The said board of examiners are hereby authorized and empowered to grant or reject such petition, and their decision shall be final. If such decision is favorable to said petitioner a certificate shall be issued by the superintendent of buildings in accordance therewith. No member of said board shall pass upon any question in which he is pecuniarily interested. The said board shall meet once in each week upon notice from the superintendent of buildings. The chief clerk in the office of the superintendent of buildings shall be clerk of said board, and shall keep a record of its proceedings, which shall be kept in the office of the superintendent of buildings. The members of said board, excepting the superintendent, shall each be entitled to and shall receive ten dollars for each attendance of a meeting of said board, to be paid by the comptroller from the contingent fund upon the voucher of the superintendent of buildings, certified to by the board of fire commissioners."

(1892) — Chapter 275. Section 4O.

Provisions of the law of 1885 amended as follows: After the words " he shall also have power to vary or modify the provisions of this title upon application therefore in writing," the following clause in the law of 1885 has been omitted, " only in case of alteration of old buildings, or the use of party walls belonging to different owners, where the same cannot be taken down "; also, the new law requires that such application shall be made by an owner of the building or structure or his representative. The law of 1892 also provides that of the two members of the Mechanics and Traders' Exchange on the Board of Examiners one shall be a master mason and one a master carpenter, and also the Chief of the Fire Department is added to the members of the board. Five affirmative votes in the new law are considered necessary to the granting of an application instead of four; also in the new law the Superintendent of Buildings is to receive compensation at the rate of ten dollars a day for each meeting that he may attend, as is also the chief clerk of the Building Department. The other provisions of the law are continued without change.

(1897)— Chapter 378, Greater New York Charter, Chapter 12, Sections 649-650.

Each commissioner shall have power and it shall be his duty, subject to the provisions of law and the ordinances of the municipal assembly and the general rules and regulations established by the board, to pass upon any question relative to the mode, manner of construction or materials to be used in the erection or alteration of any building or other structure erected or to be erected within the borough or boroughs under his jurisdiction which is included within the provisions of this chapter or of any existing law applicable to such borough or boroughs relating to the construction, alteration or removal of buildings or other structures, and to require that such mode, manner of construction, or materials shall conform to the true intent and meaning of the several provisions of this chapter and of the laws and ordinances aforesaid and the rules and regulations established by the board. Whenever a commissioner to whom such question has been submitted shall reject or refuse to approve the mode, manner of construction or materials proposed to be followed or used in the erection or alteration of any such building or structure, or when it is claimed that the rules and regulations of the board or the provisions of law or of said ordinances do not apply or that an equally good and more desirable form of construction can be employed in any specific case, the owner of such building or structure, or his duly authorized agent, may appeal from the decision of such commissioner to the board in any case where the amount involved by such decision shall exceed the sum of one thousand dollars; provided, however, that in the boroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx such appeal shall be taken to the board of examiners, established by chapter 456 of the laws of 1885 and the several acts amendatory thereof or supplemental thereto. The commissioner for the boroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx shall be ex-officio a member and the chairman of said board of examiners. The other members of said board of examiners shall be the persons mentioned and described in section 31 of said chapter 456 of the laws of 1885 and the several acts amendatory thereof or supplemental thereto. The appeal authorized by this section may be taken within ten days from the entry of a decision upon the records of the commissioner by filing with the commissioner rendering such decision and with the secretary of the board established by this act or with the clerk of the board of examiners, as the case may be, a notice of appeal stating specifically the questions which the appellant desires to have passed upon by the board of buildings or by the board of examiners, as the case may be, and by filing with the secretary of the board of buildings or the clerk of the board of examiners, as the case may be, copies of all papers required by law or by the rules and regulations of the board of buildings to be submitted to the commissioner upon an application for a building permit, and the board of buildings or the board of examiners, as the case may be, shall thereafter fix a day within a reasonable time for the hearing of such appeal, and upon such hearing the appellant may be represented either in person or by his agent or attorney. The decision of the board of buildings or the board of examiners, as the case may be, upon such appeal, shall be rendered without unnecessary delay and such decision shall be final."

Section 650.

Each commissioner shall have power with the approval of the board, to vary or modify any rule or regulation of the board or the provisions of this chapter or of any existing law or ordinance relating to the construction, alteration or removal of any building or structure erected or to be erected within his jurisdiction upon an application to him therefore in writing by the owner of such building or structure or his duly authorized agent, where there are practical difficulties in the way of carrying out the strict letter of the law, so that the spirit of the law shall be observed and public safety secured and substantial justice done; but no such variation or modification shall be granted or allowed except by a vote of a majority of the board. Where such application has been filed with a commissioner the owner of such building or structure or his duly authorized agent shall have the right to present a petition to such commissioner and the board, setting forth the grounds for the desired variation or modification, and may appear before said board and be heard. The board shall fix a date within a reasonable time for a hearing upon such application and shall as soon as practicable render a decision thereon, which decision shall be final. The particulars of each such application and of the decision of the board thereon shall be entered upon the records of the board, and if the application is granted a certificate therefore shall be issued by the commissioner to whom the application is made and shall be countersigned by the secretary of the board.

 

Website: The History Box.com
Article Name: A History of Tenement House Legislation in New York 1852-1900 Part VI
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina

Source:

BIBLIOGRAPHY: The Tenement House Problem; Including the Report of the New York State Tenement House Commission of 1900. By Various Writers; The MacMillan Company-New York 1903
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