The relevant ULURP rule is here (Section 2-05).
As we interpret it, the first sentence sets forth two clear alternatives: "… an affected borough board may conduct a public hearing on an application AND submit a written recommendation on such application or any community board recommendations" OR "waive the right to submit a recommendation to the Commission" (emphases added). The presence of the word "and" in the first quoted section indicates that the two actions (conducting a public hearing AND submitting a written recommendation) go together. There is no authorization to submit a recommendation without holding the public hearing.
Via telephone last Friday, staff of the Office of the Queens Borough President stated that it is not required that the Borough Board hold a public hearing -- that the Borough Board "may" do so, but is not obligated. It was then pointed out that the very same text that says that they "may" hold a hearing continues "and submit a recommendation" to CPC -- in other words, that both events (the hearing and the recommendation) are connected. The word "AND" means that you do one, AND the other. You cannot split off the recommendation from the hearing (e.g., do the former but not the latter). They responded that it's always done this way, and that we should speak w/counsel to QBP, Hugh Weinberg.
That Council members who are on the Borough Board have heard nothing whatsoever directly from the public, and there is NO RECORD within the Borough Board -- other than USTA's presentation -- is a basis for any Borough Board vote. Even if the ULURP rules do not require a public hearing (and we believe they obviously do), there is no dispute that the rules allow the Borough Board to hold a public hearing -- and the Borough Board is not doing so. That amounts to a pointless exclusion of the public from Borough Board decision-making.
We are aware that, when a Borough Board authorizes disposition of City-owner property under City Charter section 384(b)(4), there is no requirement for a public hearing. But what is happening in the case of USTA is different, as the Borough Board is getting involved under the ULURP process -- and the ULURP rules, unlike 384(b)(4), apparently require a public hearing prior to any recommendation. The Office of the Queens Borough President may be confusing the circumstances of 384(b)(4) with those of ULURP, to which different rules apply.