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Projects & Proposals > Citywide > Community Facilities Zoning Printer Friendly Version
Community Facilities Zoning Text Proposal - Approved!
Introduction & Public Review
Introduction & Public Review | Proposed Zoning Changes

On March 8, the City Planning Commission referred out a set of proposed text amendment changes on community facilities. This application, jointly sponsored by the Department of City Planning and the New York City Council's Land Use Committee, has been referred to each of the city's 59 community boards for comment.

The applicants are proposing to modify and replace existing text, add new text, and reorganize and renumber various sections of the Zoning Resolution regarding community facilities. The proposal would affect zoning regulations on a citywide basis, and would result in changes to the use, bulk and parking regulations for community facilities. The proposal involves changes affecting: (a) use regulations for houses of worship, ambulatory health care facilities, and college or school dormitories; (b) special provisions for adult use establishments in manufacturing districts; (c) rear yard obstructions for community facilities; (d) community facility floor area ratios in certain local retail and service commercial overlay districts; (e) off-street parking requirements for houses of worship and ambulatory health care facilities; and (f) parking lot screening for community facilities.

Community facility zoning regulations in New York City permit a wide range of educational, health care, religious and not-for-profit institutions to locate in residence districts in New York City. These regulations are intended to accommodate the need for these institutions to locate near the populations they serve, and to recognize the special legal protections that federal and state law accord to houses of worship and schools.

In the past two decades, as community facilities have grown in number and size, and in many cases have served regional rather than neighborhood populations, land use conflicts have developed in which local residents, community groups and elected officials have asked that zoning for community facilities lessen their impacts in residential areas. The Department of City Planning’s studies of these issues have highlighted the difficulty of reconciling the needs, and legal rights, of community facility providers with the important planning goal of preserving the character of residential neighborhoods.

Working with the City Council’s Land Use Committee, the Department has identified a number of text changes that can be implemented to reduce land use conflicts while respecting the needs and legal rights of community facility providers. By carefully crafting new regulations that are more restrictive, where appropriate, and in some cases more permissive, the proposal would limit the land use impacts of some types of community facilities while allowing them opportunities to locate in a manner that is less problematic for residential communities.

The proposal would affect health care facilities, houses of worship, the maximum permitted community facility floor area ratio (FAR) in certain local commercial districts, construction in required rear yards and screening for off-street parking facilities. The proposal would also modify the zoning text definition of college or school dormitory or fraternity or sorority houses to clarify that these community facility uses are student accommodations. The changes are intended primarily to limit the size of certain community facilities, and their related parking and traffic impacts, in the city's lowest density neighborhoods. Most community facilities in the city are located in other types of zoning districts, which are widely mapped, and would not be affected by the proposal.


Public Review

On March 8, 2004, the City Planning Commission referred the proposed zoning text amendment (N 040202 ZRY) for public review and comment. The comment period lasted 60 days. In addition, a Draft Environmental Impact Statement was prepared for the application. A public hearing on the application and the DEIS was held by the City Planning Commission on June 9, 2004.

For detailed information on the proposal, download copies of the pdf document Draft Scope document, which sets forth the analyses and methodologies proposed for the project Environmental Impact Statement, and the pdf document Environmental Assessment Statement (1.6 mb).

On July 28, 2004, the City Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve the proposed zoning text amendments, with modifications (pdf document Read the CPC report). At the request of the applicants and in response to issues raised during the public review process, the Commission modified the proposal to provide a ministerial process for locally oriented houses of worship to waive required parking, and to add clarification to a proposed new special permit of the Board of Standards and Appeals to waive or reduce required parking for houses of worship based upon their operation or utilization. It also modified the proposal to leave intact current zoning rules that prohibit the location of adult establishments within 500 feet of houses of worship.

On September 9, 2004, the full City Council approved the application with one additional modification. The modification limits the proposed increase in the maximum permitted floor area ratio for community facilities located within commercial strips in R3-2 districts. (The maximum permitted FAR would increase from 1.0 to 1.6 instead of 2.0, still offering an incentive principally for ambulatory health care facilities to locate in commercial rather than residence districts). View the PDF icon adopted zoning text amendment.

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Brief explanations of terms in green italics can be viewed by clicking on the term. Words and phrases followed by an asterisk (*) are defined terms in the Zoning Resolution, primarily in Section 12-10. Consult the Zoning Resolution for the official and legally binding definitions of these words and phrases.
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