February 2017 Newsletter

February 14, 2017

Author: Equity Environmental Engineering

It's February already! The days move fast but the years move slow or is that the other way around? We're almost out of the woods with repect to winter weather although its had some mood swings recenlty, particularly this past weekend.   

Valentine's Day is right around the corner. Don't forget to treat the ones you love special everyday and a little moreso that day. Chocolate covered anything works really well for women and men!

Planning Services

Equity has long been involved in development projects in New York City that include a component of affordable housing. We have assisted developers on projects that require zoning actions through the New York City Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) or the Board of Standards and Appeals, as well as projects receiving public funding which triggers an environmental review by the funding agency.  Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) has been the law of the land in NYC since March of 2016 and development proposals continue to march forward at a remarkable clip despite the negative press and predictions of doom for the real estate market. Not surprisingly perhaps is that many of the most successful projects have occurred in what were until quite recently areas considered unrealistic and challenging development markets such as Brownsville, Bedford-Stuyvesant, and areas of the South Bronx.

In addition to mastering the financial, engineering, marketing, and architectural challenges of a project, it is obvious that the developer must have a clear understanding of the local community in whose hands the fate of a rezoning or variance may ultimately rest. Understanding the interests of the community and demands likely to be made by its representatives before going through an expensive design and environmental process is money well spent. Simply navigating the Environmental Assessment Statement (EAS) process with NYC Department of Planning's Environmental Division is the least of guarantees for a successful process through to development. Understanding how to work through that process and make it to the next step is critical and that is where Equity provides help to our clients.

Equity is currently engaged in several large-scale 100% affordable housing projects, where our client - "the developer", is basically serving as the contractor for City-financed projects that provide a range of affordable housing options. It is this formula that appears to be the most successful in convincing Community Boards, local elected officials, and land use decision-makers to sign off on increased density or a reduction in parking which is now encouraged by the elimination of parking requirements for new affordable dwellings constructed inside transit zones. Where some Community Boards have said, "not enough affordable housing or that's too much density and out of character with the neighborhood"; the prospect of large numbers of affordable units in quality developments developed on land that is often beset with unpermitted or undesirable uses, has brownfield issues, or is simply underutilized, becomes too attractive to dismiss. Through early outreach, receptiveness to a range of perspectives, and flexibility, a developer can engage local constituencies and their representatives as partners rather than potential adversaries in the land use approval process.

Affordable housing projects are causing some quirks to appear in the already overly quirky world of City Environmental Quality Review (CEQR) which is required for any project seeking discretionary zoning actions. As a testament to this quirkiness, while working on an area rezoning to support a 206 unit, 100% affordable housing project in the Unionville neighborhood of the Bronx, Equity discovered a few new lessons while securing EAS certification in world record time for the developer to complete ULURP and secure financing before a funding deadline. First, Equity learned when it comes to 100% affordable housing projects, you can throw the required Reasonable Worst Case Development Scenario (RWCDS) memorandum out the window or at least place it on the ledge. Normally, this memorandum between DCP and the applicant documents the basis on which a rezoning is evaluated, meaning if we rezone this area to further your project, what is the potential outcome that would maximize the potential for environmental impacts?

Even if your development proposal is one that is 100% affordable, you can expect to modify your RWCDS to reflect development that only provides the amount of affordable housing required under MIH, typically 25 or 30% of residential floor area. However, for some categories of impact analysis the worst case would be a project with 100% affordable and in some cases, it would be a mixed market rate and affordable project. We have been required to alternate between these two scenarios within a single environmental review document depending on the aspect of the environment under consideration. For example, when evaluating community facilities, you must take credit for all those affordable units and factor the children generated by the development into publicly financed child care even though your RWCDS assumed 30% affordable housing.

Another instance of this variable RWCDS analysis is parking. Most projects will have parking waived for affordable housing as most projects will be located in a transit district; however, the City may still require you to account for the potential parking demand from the project, regardless of the zoning requirement that reflects public policy not to provide off-street parking for affordable housing. Meaning, even if you have no parking required by law, you may be required to document that there is parking capacity in the area to accommodate vehicles that might be owned by occupants of the new affordable housing. This means you can be expected to spend some extra money doing a parking demand study for a project that requires no parking as of right.  There are other whacky lessons to be learned in the brave new world of MIH and the NYC CEQR Environmental Assessment process. Look for more in our next newsletter.

If you have development projects and would like information on the breadth of services that Equity provides, please contact James Heineman or Kevin Williams at (973) 527-7451.

Society of American Military Engineers, NJ Post


On August 18th 2016, the Small Business Council of the New Jersey Post hosted an event at Old York Country Club for Small Business members and guests for a program, networking and breakfast. This year's event featured presentations on opportunities for all small businesses to participate in the recently-expanded mentor-protégé program. The U.S. Small Business Administration published the final rule implementing the long-awaited expansion of the mentor-protégé joint venture program. The new program, available to all categories of small businesses, not just 8(a) participants, creates significant opportunities for large and small businesses alike. We have sought out the best speakers to deliver insights, lessons learned, contracting elements and anticipated regulations & requirements.

Tedd Wheeler (O'Brien & Gere) served as Master of Ceremonies and was assisted byPeter Jaran (Equity Environmental) and BV Rao (E G & R Environmental). Speakers delivered information on all aspects of the mentor-protégé process. The program was opened by Mr. Al Titone, District Director for New Jersey, U.S. Small Business Administration. Detailed briefings were presented by: Barbara Forslund, PE, Advanced GeoServices Corporation; Shawn Ralston, Small Business Liaison Officer National Programs, AECOM; Dominick Belfiore, Region II Newark Office, U.S. Small Business Administration and David Rose, Esq., Moser Rose Attorneys.

Ms. Deborah Hemphill of the Small Business Development Program Group at the William J. Hughes Technical Center of the Federal Aviation Administration based in Atlantic City was introduced to the group. She presented an overview of her Small Business program and announced upcoming opportunities.

The event was sold out and our grateful appreciation is extended to the 20 firms who sponsored the activity and make it an affordable event for Small Businesses.

Congratulations to the Post's Small Business Council who worked for numerous months to develop and plan the event, led by Chair B.V. Rao and including: Gordon Araujo, Ed Blanar, Susan Boone, Amy Greene, Richard Grubb, Peter Jaran, Andrew Leung, Marshall Robert, and Tedd Wheeler.

Mark your calendars now for next year's event to be held on Thursday May 4th 2017 during National Small Business Week. 

A 3½ to 4 hour seminar workshop on DCAA accounting practices to be compliant for working on Federal government contracts will be held at the same location. Separate registration fees apply. We expect to be able to award PDH educational credits for this workshop seminar. If you wish to receive the announcement and registration, send an email with 2017 SAME NJ Post SBC event in the subject line toBVRao@egrenvironmental.com and we will add you to our list. Location will be announced shortly.

Source:  SAME Small Business Council Newsletter

Construction Site Safety

Construction jobsite deaths rose in 2015 to their highest level in seven years and the industry's fatality rate also edged up, the Dept. of Labor has reported.

The department's Bureau of Labor Statistics said in its latest annual report on fatal workplace injuries, released on Dec. 16, that private-sector construction deaths climbed 4%, to 937, the most since 2008, when the industry recorded 975 fatalities. BLS also said that construction's 2015 fatality rate increased to 10.1 per 100,000 full-time-equivalent workers, from 9.8 in 2014.

The bureau said that a main factor behind the upturn in construction deaths is an increase in fatalities among specialty trade contractor firms. It notes that fatal injuries to workers in foundation, structure and building-exterior contractors were up 27% last year, to 231.

Greg Sizemore, vice president for health, safety, and environment and workforce development, said via email 'leading indicator" safety programs have been particularly effective. He says that the programs involve employee, subcontractor and supplier participants and include "in-depth new hire orientations, site-specific safety orientations, toolbox talks and site safety committees." Sizemore says a 2016 ABC report showed the programs have reduced recordable incidents by 86%, compared with the BLS industry average.

Source: ENR 12/19/16

New Jersey Industrial Real Estate Market

Industrial leasing in New Jersey kept up its torrid pace through the end of 2016, capping off a year that saw occupancy gains of more than 10 million square feet.

That activity reached a "historic" level, according to researchers with JLL, in that positive net absorption in northern and central New Jersey reached its highest point since 2001. Driven by big-box leases and demand for high-end facilities, industrial vacancy fell to 4.5 percent in the fourth quarter - countering what has been a wave of new construction in the market. That represented only a small decrease from Q3, JLL found. But the mark was down nearly two percentage points from year-end 2015, when vacancy in the region was 6.5 percent.

"New Jersey's primary industrial submarkets have posted swift declines in vacancy rates, fueled by an average of 2.5 million square feet of positive net absorption every quarter of the year," David Knee, senior managing director at JLL, said in a prepared statement. "During the final quarter of 2016, however, vacancy rates were buoyed by an escalation in speculative deliveries, and only ticked down slightly."  Knee added that speculative development is expected to continue into the foreseeable future, tempering expectations about whether vacancy will record any other dramatic decreases.

Still, JLL's Q4 research found that large industrial leases - those of 500,000 square feet or larger - accounted for more than 6.4 million square feet in leasing activity and positive net absorption in 2016. E-commerce companies and so-called last-mile operations represented 51.7 percent of big-box space transactions, a trend it expects to continue through 2017.

And while positive absorption may slow in 2017, the recent demand for new space has led to robust rental growth, JLL said. During the past year, overall asking rental rates have increased "an astonishing 13.6 percent," representing nearly half of the total rental rate growth seen in northern and central New Jersey during the past five years. The sharp spike in asking rental rates is the product of an imbalance in supply and demand levels, as well as an increase in speculative construction, JLL said. Experts with the firm said they expect that to continue in 2017, citing the continued demand and lack of available space.

Meantime, the brokerage tracked nearly 7 million square feet of new construction activity through the end of 2016. Nearly two-thirds of that space was developed on a speculative base, with central New Jersey serving as the focal point of the new activity. The lack of developable land is causing builders to look elsewhere, such as the Exit 8 submarket, where projects totaling more than 900,000 square feet have broken ground recently.

Source: Real Estate NJ, Joshua Burd 1/3/17

New Partner

Equity is proud to annouce that Merry Barrieres has become a Partner in the firm effective immediately. Merry has worked for Equity for over eight years. She is a  program assistant at one of our clients office as well as a certified wetlands delineator. Merry also works within our planning group conducting environmental assessment statements for various development projects in NYC.


Equity Staff willl be at the following events:

Site Remediation Practioners Forum - 2/22/17

Morris County Chamber of Commerce Business Connections Networking 2/17/17; Morris in the Evening 2/28/17

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