New Process rules
City Planning has adopted new agency rules to establish submission and meeting participation requirements prior to the filing of a land use or environmental review application. The new rules formalize the pre-filing components of the newly improved BluePrint pre-certification application review process and provide a clear roadmap for applicants and the Department to follow as a project moves from conception to filing. Current applicants as of October 31, 2013, may be grandfathered from certain process steps and should review the rules and consult with their lead planner. To access the new rules, go to DCP rules.
City Planning holds information sessions for practitioners to learn more about the changes to the application process. If you are interested in participating to a session, please email InfoSession@planning.nyc.gov.
BluePRint, City Planning's Business Process Reform effort, is a major business change initiative launched by the Department of City Planning in January 2011 to reform City Planning's core land use and environmental application review processes. BluePRint affects projects requiring discretionary approval by the City Planning Commission and City Council and focuses on the pre-certification review period – the time between an applicant's first contact with DCP to the start of the formal public review of an application, known as the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure or ULURP. During the pre-certification period, DCP works with developers and property owners to develop the land use proposal and engages in extensive environmental and technical analysis of the applications required for ULURP review. Blueprint's goal is to reduce the time most projects spend in pre-certification by having a clear and predictable review process for both the applicants and agency staff.
What are the BluePRint's goals?
Our ambition is for City Planning to become a more effective economic development agent for the city. For the last 10 years, we have done this successfully by strategically planning for the city's growth and vitality. But we know we are not as effective in our review of applications that seek discretionary approvals for both public and private projects, and we know that these projects are key to the economy of the city as well.
Reforming the review process for applications is a priority for the Department and the agency has dedicated staff time to redesign the pre-certification process. We used the temporary drop in applications due to the economic slowdown to make the changes that are needed to help achieve our ambition of creating a clear, predictable land use and environmental review process to help the agency better support the economy of the city.
What is the pre-certification process?
BluePRint affects projects requiring discretionary approval by the City Planning Commission and City Council and focus on the pre-certification review period – the time between an applicant's first contact with DCP to the start of the formal public review of an application, known as the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure or ULURP. During the pre-certification period, DCP works with developers and property owners to develop the land use proposal and engages in extensive environmental and technical analysis of the applications required for ULURP review.
How will BluePRint benefit applicants?
When implementation is complete, City Planning will be able to complete pre-certification review for two-thirds of all application types within fifteen months, saving up to 100 millions of dollars in soft and carrying costs property owners who seek to improve or develop their property every year.
Having a clear and predictable review process will help property owners better time their projects with economic cycles. These process improvements will also benefit other city agencies who regularly apply for discretionary actions, speeding up the creation of affordable housing, economic development projects and open space. Projects will enter ULURP sooner and may happen sooner, benefiting neighborhood residents and bringing in tax revenues for the city.
By making it easier to do business with the city, BluePRint will directly benefit the economy of the city.
How is BluePRint changing the review process?
We have mapped out a new review process that is more predictable and more efficient by reducing review cycles and revisions. The improved process facilitates coordinated review among divisions from the moment an applicant walks in the door with an idea for their property.
The new agency rules formalize a new pre-filing process. The rules provide a clear roadmap for applicants and the Department to follow as a project moves from conception to filing, serving to better coordinate the land use and environmental issues that have implications for one another and on the final application that will ultimately be filed with the Department. For those applications subject to the ULURP rules, the post-filing process is covered by existing rules governing ULURP. All other applications are subject to established department procedures for the processing of non ULURP land use applications.
The major goal of the new submission and meeting participation requirements is to gather basic information about the project site and the proposed development, so that the Department can advise potential applicants on the nature and content of the required land use applications and the level of environmental analysis that may be required. Since November 1, 2013, all potential applicants are required to adhere to the submission requirements and meeting requirements prior to the formal filing of any land use or environmental review application. Application types that are exceptions will be listed on the Applicant Portal.
To support this new process, we have developed new tools. The Applicant Portal on our website offers a user-friendly guide to the application process for applicants both experienced and new. The Portal provides access to the application standards, templates and samples which are necessary to making the application process easier.
With critical input from practitioners, we have developed 90 application standards in use, including core application standards that affect all application types. By the end of 2013, we will have standards in place to improve the processing of two-thirds of all applications types received by DCP every year. To support the management of applications by our planners, we have launched an internal project management system to coordinate and track a project from the moment an applicant walks in the door. By the end of 2013, we will have started building a new system that will permit electronic filing and review of applications. We expect the system to go live in early 2015.
With the BluePRint process, it is clear to the applicant from the start what is required, what type of professionals are needed to produce application materials, and how long it should take to put the application together.
How do you know the new process is working?
Between July 2012 when the new process was first offered and November 2013 when the new process was adopted with the new rules in effect, more than a hundred applicants voluntarily participated in this process. Through regular and anonymous customer surveys, we have found that the majority of applicants reported being satisfied or very satisfied with the predictability and clarity of the new Pre-Application Process and the ease of doing business with City Planning.
On March 18, 2013, the Department certified the St. Francis Preparatory School Rezoning. St. Francis agreed to pilot the improved review process developed under BluePRint. In January 2012, St. Francis Prep submitted a Pre-Application Statement to launch the process, and on March 18, 15 months later, the Department certified the application to initiate public review, a process that is estimated to have taken 30 months before BluePRint. St. Francis is the first pilot to be certified under the improved review process, and the Department is pleased that the process brought the application to certification with greater efficiency, speed, and predictability.
Will BluePRint change review standards?
City Planning's mission is to plan for the sustainable growth of our great city. Private and public applications that seek discretionary approvals are an integral part of this effort, and we are committed to ensure that each project reviewed by the Department meets the highest planning and technical standards. BluePRint supports this commitment.
Will BluePRint affect the ULURP process?
No. BluePRint is focused on the period before applications enter the ULURP process. The ULURP clock and procedures are not being modified by BluePRint. Community Boards, Borough Presidents and City Council members will continue to review applications as they do today.
Who is responsible for implementing this new process?
Implementation is being led by Carol Samol, Director of the Bronx Borough office, and executed by a team of City Planning professionals with assistance from consultants. Three new positions have also been created to both support implementation and manage the improved process:
- Pre-Certification Manager dedicated to monitoring and managing the application pipeline and addressing issues that may arise within the pre-certification process;
- a Standards Coordinator to lead the coordination of the design and implementation of the standard application material templates, guidelines, manuals, samples and instructions; and
- a Training and Development Manager to ensure that DCP staff to ensure that DCP staff performs in the new process and that resources are allocated efficiently.
Will the applicants be involved and if so, how?
Consultation with professional practitioners who represent property owners as applicants has been part of BluePRint from the start when City Planning surveyed practitioners to understand their perspective on pre-certification review. We are continuing this collaboration into BluePRint implementation.
DCP has committed to hosting regular Standards Forums, tentatively scheduled on a quarterly basis, in order to give practitioners a venue for critical perspective and constructive feedback on proposed application standards. This group has been meeting regularly to review and comment on proposed application standards since early 2012. The Standards Forum plays an important role in ensuring that the proposed standards are clear and achievable by firms of all sizes. Continued involvement with practitioners and other stakeholders is essential for achieving our goals or a clear and predictable application process.
When will BluePRint be fully implemented?
Applicants have been able to take advantage of new process since July 2012. The new pre-filing process rules took effect on November 1, requiring all potential applicants to adhere to the submission requirements and meeting requirements prior to the formal filing of any land use or environmental review application. Application types that are exceptions are listed on the Applicant Portal. In addition, by the end of 2013, we will have standards in place to improve the processing of two-thirds of all applications types received by DCP every year.
The final component of BluePRint is the creation of an internal project management system to coordinate and track a project from the moment an applicant walks in the door and permit electronic filing and review of applications. We expect the system to go live in early 2015
How can I get started with the new process?
By visiting the Applicant Portal. The applicant portal is a simple, user-friendly guide to the new pre-certification process, where property owners will easily access information and standards.
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I am already in the process; do I need to start with the new process?
If you are already discussing your project with City Planning and want to better understand how the new process rules affects you, please contact your Borough office liaison. Your Borough Office liaison will be able to advise you so that City Planning can better serve you. The pre-filing process rules
contain grandfathering provisions for applicants already engaged with the Department.
How can learn more about the new process?
City Planning holds information sessions for practitioners to learn more about the new rules. If you are interested in participating to a session, please email InfoSession@planning.nyc.gov