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Land Use Process > Community-Based Planning Printer Friendly Version
Community-Based Planning
The 197-a Plan
Overview | 197-a Plan | Inter-agency / Community Action Strategy

The 197-a Plan Process Presentation

View a slideshow presentation of the 197-a Plan Process
One of the formal ways to develop a community-based plan is set out in Section 197-a of the City Charter, which 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. Neighborhood or civic groups within the larger community may draft a 197-a plan, but they must be approved, sponsored, and submitted by a community board, borough board, or borough president. A DCP illustrated description of the 197-a plans process explains how this works in simple terms.

DCP provides technical assistance to help 197-a sponsors meet standards for form, content and sound planning policy for proposed 197-a plans (known as "threshold standards") as set out in the Rules for the Processing of Plans Pursuant to Charter Section 197-a. In addition to the threshold standards, the rules outline procedures and a timetable for the 197-a process. DCP's 197-a Plan Technical Guide provides useful "how-to" instructions and a description of the kinds of analyses most relevant to typical planning issues. The guide may also help community boards determine whether a 197-a plan is the most appropriate vehicle for addressing their issues. Both the Rules and the Guide can be purchased at the City Planning Bookstore.

Review of 197-a plans occurs in two stages. The first stage, the threshold review, is conducted by the Department of City Planning and the City Planning Commission to ensure that a plan is complete, coherent and properly documented before it is reviewed on its merits. The second stage, substantive review, allows for community board, borough president, City Planning Commission and City Council consideration of the plan's objectives, policies and proposals. The process may culminate in approval of the plan as submitted, approval as modified by the City Planning Commission and/or the City Council, or disapproval.

Taking a 197-a plan from inception to adoption is a lengthy process and requires the continuing commitment of its sponsors even after adoption to ensure successful implementation. With that commitment, an appropriate set of objectives and a realistic outlook, a community board may find the 197-a process well worth the effort.

To date, thirteen 197-a plans have been adopted: eleven were sponsored by community boards; one by a borough president and one by the Department of City Planning. One plan has been disapproved and one withdrawn.

Status of 197-a Plans*

Status of 197-a Plan Map


Plan

Sponsor

Focus

Current Status

Adopted

Partnership for the Future
More Information & Download plan…

Bronx CB 3

Comprehensive

Adopted: 11/92
(as modified by CPC)

The Chelsea Plan
More Information & Download plan…

Manhattan CB 4

Zoning

Adopted: 5/96
(as modified by CPC)

Red Hook Plan
More Information & Download plan…

Brooklyn CB 6

Comprehensive

Adopted: 9/96
(as modified by CPC)

Stuyvesant Cove Plan
More Information & Download plan…

Manhattan CB 6

Waterfront

Adopted: 3/97
(as modified by CPC)

Comprehensive Manhattan Waterfront Plan
More Information & Download plan…

Manhattan BP

Waterfront

Adopted: 4/97
(as modified by CPC/CC)

New Waterfront Revitalization Program
More Information & Download plan…

DCP

Waterfront

Adopted: 10/99

Williamsburg Waterfront Plan
More Information & Download plan…

Brooklyn CB 1

Waterfront/ Comprehensive

Adopted: 1/02
(as modified by CPC)

Greenpoint Plan
More Information & Download plan…

Brooklyn CB 1

Comprehensive

Adopted: 1/02
(as modified by CPC)

CD 8: River to Reservoir Preservation Strategy
More Information & Download plan…

Bronx CB 8

Comprehensive

Adopted: 11/03

CB 8 197-a Plan for Queensboro Bridge Area
More Information & Download plan…

Manhattan CB 8

Waterfront / Streetscapes

Adopted: 8/06

CB 9 197-a Plan: Hamilton Heights, Manhattanville, Morningside Heights
More Information & Download plan…

Manhattan CB 9

Comprehensive

Adopted: 12/07
(as modified by CPC)

CB 6 197-a Plan for Eastern Section of Community District 6
More Information & Download plan…

Manhattan CB 6 & East Side Rezoning Alliance

Comprehensive with focus on waterfront and open space

Adopted: 3/08
(as modified by CPC/CC)

New Connections/ New Opportunities: Sunset Park 197-a Plan
More Information & Download plan…

Brooklyn CB 7

Comprehensive with focus on the waterfront

Adopted: 12/09
(as modified by CPC)

Other

West Village

Manhattan CB 2

Land Use/Zoning

Withdrawn 8/96

Little Neck/Douglaston

Queens CB 11

Zoning

Disapproved 5/99

* As of May 2010


Implementation of 197-a Plans
Once a 197-a plan is adopted, the sponsor's work is not over!  The sponsor, usually a community board, should work with city agencies to ensure that 197-a plan goals are met. If rezonings are recommended in the plan, the sponsor may encourage the Department of City Planning to initiate a zoning map change application (under Section 197-c of the City Charter). Rezonings based on the recommendations in four 197-a plans have been adopted.

Some 197-a plans have recommendations that focus on issues other than zoning. The first adopted 197-a plan, sponsored by Bronx CB 3, aimed at revitalizing the district and recommended measures to facilitate new mixed income housing development and increase the population. Those goals have been substantially met. The Stuyvesant Cove 197-a Plan envisioned a publicly-accessible waterfront park and pedestrian esplanade. The waterfront park was constructed and opened in 2003. A major recommendation of the Manhattan CB 8 197-a Plan is the transformation of a former heliport site to a waterfront park and esplanade. The City, in consultation with CB 8, is in the planning stage for these waterfront improvements.

If your community is interested in learning more about the 197-a process or alternative approaches to planning, please contact the Department of City Planning's Planning Coordination Division at 212-720-3464.

Integrating Different Visions
Recently the city's growing population and strong real estate market have created interest in private or institutional redevelopment of under-utilized areas. In cases where rezoning is required, these proposals may be in conflict with community plans in various stages of development. Wherever possible,  DCP encourages local stakeholders to find common ground regarding their different visions. In cases where there is a 197-a plan and a conflicting rezoning proposal, DCP seeks to ensure that the competing plans are reviewed in a manner that guarantees equal consideration of each.

Columbia University proposed an expansion of its academic campus and other rezonings for one of the geographic areas covered by the Manhattan Community Board 9 197-a Plan. Public review began in June 2007 for Columbia University's expansion proposal in West Harlem and the 197-a plan proposed by Manhattan Community Board 9. In December 2007, the City Council adopted the CB 9 197-a Plan, as modified by the City Planning Commission, and the Columbia University rezoning proposal, as modified by the City Planning Commission. The recommendations in both plans, as modified, were reconciled.

The East River Realty Company (ERRC) proposed a rezoning for one of the geographic areas covered by the 197-a Plan submitted by Manhattan Community Board 6. Public review began in August  2007 for the East River Realty Company's proposal to redevelop the former Con Edison sites on First Avenue on Manhattan's east side. On January 28, 2008 the City Planning Commission approved the CB 6 197-a Plan with modifications, and the ERRC proposal with modifications.  On March 26, 2008 the City Council adopted the CB 6 197-a Plan with additional modifications, and the ERRC proposal, also with additional modifications.


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