Crane collapse site approved 'in error'
BY BRIAN KATES
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Thursday, April 17th 2008, 8:30 PM
The building where seven people were killed in a crane collapse last month should never have gone up, the city buildings commissioner said Thursday.
The 43-story building did not conform to zoning requirements for the mostly low-rise block in Turtle Bay, Lancaster said. She blamed the error on the unnamed plan examiner.
The embattled commissioner made the disclosure at a City Council hearing on crane safety under grilling from Councilwoman Jessica Lappin
, who represents the neighborhood.
Department spokeswoman Kate Lindquist
said the error was discovered before the March 15 crane collapse, which also injured 24 people, flattened a brownstone and forced the evacuation of 18 homes.
Lappin said she was "deeply disturbed" by the revelation.
"If they had not approved this illegal building, they wouldn't have approved the crane and this tragedy would never have happened," she said.
Lappin said the Turtle Bay Association
expressed concerns on Nov. 26 and again on Dec. 5 that the building violated zoning regs.
"The department blew them off," she said.
Five days after the disaster, department inspector Edward Marquette
was arrested after allegedly confessing he failed to examine the doomed crane.
Lancaster, flanked by two department lawyers, said the debacle is under investigation.
She said all 29 tower cranes operating in the city have been reinspected. Stop-work orders were issued for violations at eight sites. They were lifted at all but one after the deficiencies were corrected, she said.
A stop-work order remains in effect at 200 Murray St., the new Goldman Sachs
Lancaster said that since the disaster she has beefed up the six-member crane inspection unit with inpectors and supervisors from other units.
Industry leaders were dubious.
"They do not have the training they need, and the $40,000 to $50,000 they are paid is too low when the decisions they make have multimillion-dollar impacts."