Stricter Lower Density Growth Management Area commercial rules were adopted in October and December 2005 to preclude the inappropriate development of townhouses in commercial areas. These rules restricted ground floor uses in C1, C2 and C4 Commercial Districts to commercial uses and community facility uses only. Residential uses would only be permitted above the ground floor to allow buildings with residential units above retail as is often found in many of the borough’s town centers. Since then, implementation and practice of those rules have identified several unanticipated challenges that have hampered appropriate development and should be corrected.
View the proposed text amendment.
Task Force Presentations
On April 8, 2010 the Department of City Planning presented this proposal to the Mayor’s Staten Island Growth Management Task Force. The Task Force recommended that the proposal be presented to all three Community Boards for discussion and to encourage public input.
The proposal was presented on the following dates:
Thursday, April 22 – Community Board 3 Land Use Committee
Monday, May 3 – Community Board 1 Land Use Committee
Tuesday, May 4 – Community Board 2 Land Use Committee
Proposed Text Amendment
- Existing Non-conforming Buildings
Many commercial overlays are mapped at 100 feet or 150 feet depth from the main commercial street. This depth often captures existing residential homes, making them non-conforming uses and limits their ability to enlarge the residential use on the ground floor should they wish to add or expand a room.
The proposed text amendment would permit existing non-conforming residential buildings in Commercial Districts to enlarge their non-conforming use on the ground floor as long as the enlargement complies with all the underlying residential regulations for bulk and parking. New construction would have to meet all of the current LDGMA commercial rules.
- Narrow Commercial Lots in in R4, R5, and R6 Districts mapped in Commercial Overlays
To allow development on small lots, a citywide rule (applicable on most of Staten Island) allows small commercial parking requirements to be waived. However, there is no parking waiver for required residential parking, even if it is an extremely low requirement. The existing mandatory non-residential ground floor use rules permit a portion of the building to have residential lobbies and entrances to parking spaces, but this is limited at 25% of the building’s façade. This restriction makes it difficult for zoning lots with narrow lot widths hoping to build residences on the second floor to comply with this restriction, as providing a driveway and lobby in this small of a percentage of a façade is nearly impossible.
Combined, these current rules result in one-story commercial buildings on narrow lots. They inhibit residential development where transit infrastructure already exists and inhibit reinvestment in town centers, where the historic pattern of development was mixed buildings with residential units located above retail stores.
The proposed text amendment would allow required parking spaces to be waived in C1 and C2 overlays mapped over R4, R5 and R6 Districts on zoning lots of 4,000 square feet or less. Zoning lots will not be permitted to be subdivided after the date of adoption in order to waive the parking requirements.
On zoning lots of 60 feet width or less, the proposed text amendment would increase the percentage of street frontage that residential lobbies and driveways may occupy to 50% of the buildings width or 20 feet, whichever is less.
The combination of these two provisions will encourage reinvestment by allowing the historic development pattern of these town centers to continue.
- Corner Lots in R4 or, R5, R6 Districts mapped in Commercial Overlays
On zoning lots with multiple street frontages, the current regulations require non-residential ground floor uses on all street frontages. In many cases, the Commercial Overlay may extend 100 feet in depth or more. On corner lots the side street often includes residential neighborhoods. While it is appropriate to require these uses on the main commercial street, for corner lots the side street may not be an appropriate location and may result in ground floor spaces that are not marketable and may not be in context with the residential character.
For corner zoning lots in C1 and C2 Districts overlays mapped within over R4 and, R5, and R6 Districts, the proposed text amendment would continue to require commercial or community facility ground floor uses on the primary commercial street. For corner lots, the owner would have the option to provide commercial, community facility or residential uses on the non-primarycommercial street beyond 30 feet of the primary commercial street. This would allow the owner to determine the appropriate transitional use on the side street.
- Conflict with Special Hillsides Preservation District Rules
LDGMA commercial rules require commercial or community facility uses on the ground floor on zoning lots located in Commercial Districts. However, the Special Hillsides Preservation District in Staten Island requires an authorization from the City Planning Commission for commercial or community facility uses. This creates a conflict in which there is no as-of-right development option for the owners of these properties. In many cases, this authorization can trigger an environmental review for a use that zoning requires. These rules inhibit appropriate reinvestment in these commercial areas.
The proposed text amendment would remove the CPC authorization for commercial and community facility uses in the Special Hillsides Preservation District in C1, C2, and C4 Districts. All other rules protecting natural features in the Special Hillsides Preservation District would be applicable. The proposed result is that zoning lots located on predominantly flat site in Commercial Districts would not require CPC review.
Prior Staten Island Task Force Initiatives
Residential Regulation Changes - Approved August 12th, 2004
Commercial Overlay Boundary Changes/Eliminations - Approved October 11th, 2005
LDGMA Follow-Up Text Amendments - Approved December 8th, 2005
Commercial Regulation Changes - Approved December 21st, 2005
Commercial Rezonings - Approved December 21st, 2005
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.