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The City Charter, in Section 197-a, authorizes community boards and borough boards, along with the Mayor, the City Planning Commission (the "Commission"), the Department of City Planning ("DCP"), and any Borough President, to sponsor plans for the development, growth, and improvement of the city, its boroughs and communities. Once approved by the Commission and adopted by the City Council, 197-a plans guide future actions of city agencies in the areas addressed in the plans.
When the Charter was last revised in 1989, it called upon the City Planning Commission to adopt rules establishing minimum standards for the form and content of proposed 197-a plans. The Commission did so in July 1991 with the adoption of Rules for the Processing of Plans Pursuant to Charter Section 197-a. In addition to establishing procedures and a timetable for the 197-a process, the rules include standards for form, content and sound planning policy ("threshold standards").