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Projects & Proposals > Staten Island> LDGMA Printer Friendly Version
LDGMA Text Amendment and Commercial Corridor Rezoning - Approved!
Proposed Medical Offices and Day Care Centers Text Amendment
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The Department of City Planning is proposing a text amendment to tackle the issue of over-sized and under-parked Medical Offices and Day Care Centers in lower-density Residential Districts on Staten Island and in Bronx Community District 10. The proposal is to limit the size of future buildings with medical offices and day care centers to the same rules as any residential building surrounding it. The proposal will also require a minimum zoning lot area and lot width in order to accommodate new parking requirements.

At the same time it is important to maintain the opportunity to meet the need for health care services and day care providers in these areas. The Department is proposing to modify rules in Commercial Districts which are more appropriate locations for Medical Offices and Day Care Centers.

PDF DocumentView the adopted 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 affected Community Boards for discussion and to encourage public input.

The proposal was presented on the following dates:
Thursday, April 22 – Staten Island Community Board 3 Land Use Committee
Monday, May 3 – Staten Island Community Board 1 Land Use Committee
Tuesday, May 4 – Staten Island Community Board 2 Land Use Committee
Tuesday, May 4 – Bronx Community Board 10 Land Use Committee

Medical Offices in a Low Density Residential Districts - Note, for the purposes of this presentation the terms Medical Offices and Medical Facilities is used; however the defined term in zoning is “ambulatory diagnostic or treatment health care facilities.
  • Maximum Size of Facility
    Medical offices are limited to 1,500 square feet of floor area in a residential building. However, since cellar space (below the ground floor) is not counted as floor area , it allows larger than anticipated medical offices.

    Proposal
    The proposed text amendment would limit medical offices to 1,500 square feet for the entire residential building, including cellar space.

  • Maximum Floor Area Ratio (FAR)
    Buildings with residences are limited to a floor area ratio (FAR) but oftentimes, a building using only community facility uses can utilize a much higher community facility FAR. For example in R3 districts, the residential FAR is 0.6, while the community facility FAR is 1.0. This can result in a medical facility out of scale with the surrounding neighborhood.

    Proposal
    The proposed text amendment would limit buildings that include medical offices to the residential Floor Area Ratio (FAR).

  • Bulk Envelope Regulations
    Residential buildings in low density districts have defined building heights, i.e. in R3 districts the perimeter wall height is limited to 26 feet with an overall height limit of 35 feet for the peak of the roof. However, in several districts, buildings that include only community facility uses, such as medical offices, can use a sky exposure plane instead of fixed height limits. This can create much taller buildings which dwarf their residential neighbors.

    Proposal
    The proposed text amendment would limit buildings with Medical offices to the residential bulk envelope rules: i.e. for R3 a maximum 26 foot perimeter wall height and a 35 foot peak.

  • Parking Requirements and Waivers
    Medical offices located in an R3 Residential District require parking spaces to be provided at a ratio of 1 space per 400 square feet. A 1,500 square foot medical office would require four parking spaces to be provided. However, an existing waiver for non-residential parking spaces allows up to 10 parking spaces in R1-R5 Districts to be waived. Therefore, medical offices are not required to provide the parking spaces. In addition, residential buildings with medical offices limit the amount of paving allowed for driveways and parking lots which makes it difficult to provide parking lots. Additionally, community facility buildings have no limits on the amount of paving which could allow an entire site to be paved which would be out of context with the residential neighborhood context.

    Proposal
    The proposed text amendment will remove the parking waiver, so medical offices will require parking spaces to be provided. Site plans will have to be filed at DOB demonstrating that new parking lots meet the Commercial Parking Lot maneuverability standards. Additionally a limit on the amount of paving for driveways and parking would be established. Any new paving cannot exceed 66% of open space on the zoning lot.

  • Yards Requirements
    The current yards requirements for community facility buildings with medical offices are more lenient. Oftentimes, neither the residential front wall line-up rules nor the residential planting requirements apply to a building which has only community facility uses, such as a medical office. In addition, there are no rules for parking lots, so the neighborhood character can be disrupted by parking lots in front yards.

    Proposal
    The proposed text amendment will require that all buildings with medical offices meet all Residential yard requirements, including line-up rules and planting requirements. In addition parking lots will not be permitted in front yards and must be screened from adjacent zoning lots with a 4’ planting strip. However existing Community Facility side yard requirements would remain to provide more open space between these uses in residential districts.  

  • Minimum Zoning Lot Width and Area
    All Residential Districts require a minimum lot widths and minimum lot area for residential buildings to preserve and maintain a low density character.  In Lower Density Growth Management Area, when multiple residential buildings are located on the same zoning lot, each building must meet the minimum lot width and lot area. However, community facility buildings with medical offices are often not required to meet the minimum lot width or minimum lot area, allowing them to be built on small lots which are not large enough to accommodate off-street parking spaces.

    Proposal
    The proposed text amendment would create new zoning lot requirements for all buildings with medical offices that would be large enough to accommodate parking lots. All zoning lots with a medical office will require a minimum lot width of 60 feet and a minimum lot area of 5,700 square feet. For zoning lots with multiple buildings, each building must meet the respective lot area requirement.

Day Care Centers in a Low Density Residential Districts: Group Child Care centers are currently classified as schools within the Zoning Resolution. The Department of City Planning proposes to create more appropriate zoning rules for this use. Group Child Care centers are licensed and regulated by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), as provided for in the New York City Health Code, Article 47.  Alternatives to Group Child Care centers include Group Family Day Care (up to 12 children) and Family Day Care (up to 6 children).  These services are located in the day care provider’s homes, and are registered with DOHMH.  These alternatives do not create the parking and congestion problems that larger group child care centers often present. These smaller group family or family day care services are critical options for providing day care close to family homes/neighborhoods and are not subject to the proposed zoning changes.

Note, for the purposes of this presentation the term "Day Care Centers" is used; however the defined term in zoning is "child care services".

  • Maximum Floor Area Ratio (FAR)
    Buildings with residences are limited to a floor area ratio (FAR) but oftentimes a building using only community facility uses can utilize a much higher community facility FAR. For example in R3 districts, the residential FAR is 0.6, while the community facility FAR is 1.0. This can result in a medical facility out of scale with the surrounding neighborhood.

    Proposal
    The proposed text amendment would limit all buildings with day care centers to the residential Floor Area Ratio (FAR).

  • Bulk Envelope Regulations
    Residential buildings in low density districts have defined building heights, i.e. in R3 districts the perimeter wall height is limited to 26 feet with an overall height limit of 35 feet for the peak of the roof. However, oftentimes, community facility buildings such as a day care center can use a sky exposure plane instead of fixed height limits to create a bulk envelope. This can create much taller which dwarf their residential neighbors.

    Proposal
    The proposed text amendment would limit all buildings with day care centers to the residential bulk envelope rules: i.e. for R3 districts, a maximum 26 foot perimeter wall height and a 35 foot peak. 

  • Parking Regulations and Drop-off and Pick-up Areas
    There are currently no parking requirements for day care centers, creating an undesired parking situation and traffic congestion in Residential Districts. Limited on-street parking is used by employees and safety hazards arise when parents are dropping-off and picking-up children in the street. In addition, residential buildings with day care centers limit the amount of paving allowed for driveways and parking lots (if they are provided), while community facility buildings have no limits on the amount of paving. This could allow an entire site to be paved, which would be out of context with the residential neighborhood context.

    Proposal
    The proposed text amendment will establish a parking requirement of 1 space per every 1,000 square feet of floor area for day care centers located in Lower Density Growth Management Areas. This parking ratio is derived from the average number of employees mandated by state licensing requirements, which differs based upon the age of the children served. No waiver of spaces will be permitted. An off-street circular drop-off and pick-up driveway will be required for all buildings with day care centers. Site plans will have to be filed at DOB demonstrating that new parking lots meet the commercial parking lot maneuverability standards. Additionally a limit on the amount of paving for driveways and parking would be established. Any new paving cannot exceed 50% of open space on the zoning lot.

  • Yards Requirements
    The current yards requirements for community facility buildings with day care centers are often more lenient than residential buildings. Neither the residential front wall line-up rules nor the residential planting requirements would apply to a community facility building. In addition, if parking is provided, there are no rules for parking lots, so the neighborhood character can be disrupted by parking lots in front yards.

    Proposal
    The proposed text amendment will require that all buildings with day care centers meet all residential yard requirements, including line-up rules and planting requirements. However, in order to accommodate circular drop-off and pick-up areas, these rules can be relaxed for narrow zoning lots.  In addition parking lots will not be permitted in front yards and must be screened from adjacent zoning lots with a 4’ planting strip.However existing Community Facility side yard requirements would remain to provide more open space between these uses in residential districts.

  • Minimum Zoning Lot Width and Area
    All Residential Districts require a minimum lot width and minimum lot area for residential buildings to preserve and maintain a low density character.  In lower density growth management areas, when multiple residential buildings are located on the same zoning lot, each building must meet the minimum lot width and lot area. However, community facility buildings, such as day care centers are not required to meet the minimum lot width or minimum lot area, allowing them to be built on small lots with limited outdoor play areas and no parking spaces.

    Proposal
    The proposed text amendment would create new zoning lot requirements for day care centers that would be large enough to accommodate parking lots, a drop-off and pick-up area, and open space for children play areas. All zoning lots with a day care will require a minimum lot width of 60 feet and a minimum lot area of 10,000 square feet. For zoning lots with multiple buildings, each building must meet the respective lot area requirement.

Medical Offices and Day Care Center Conversions in Low Density Residential Districts
Existing rules do not permit conversions on non-complying zoning lots. No additional parking is required, except for enlargements or new construction.

Proposal
Conversions would have to meet all the proposed rules for new construction related to residential bulk, minimum lot area, lot width and parking requirements. However, conversions located in R3-2 districts would not be required to meet the minimum lot area and lot width requirements as these are areas where these services are needed. A new Chair Certification is proposed to allow the minimum modification of parking requirements due to the location of an existing building.


Medical Offices and Day Care Centers on Shared Sites in Low Density Residential Districts
The proposed new rules would limit the size of these facilities in residential districts, however when these uses are co-located with other community facilities it may be appropriate to allow more flexibility so that the other uses are not also limited.

Proposal
Existing Community Facility rules would continue to apply when a Day Care Center shares a zoning lot with a House of Worship or a Medical Office shares a zoning lot with a nursing home or hospital. Any off street parking provided for Houses of Worship can be used to meet the parking requirement for Day Care Centers. When Day Care Centers share a zoning lot with other community facilities then residential bulk regulations must apply, unless the Day Care Center is less than 25% of the Community Facility FAR permitted on the zoning lot.


Medical Offices and Day Care Centers in Commercial Districts (C1 and C2 Districts): These services are vital to residents and as restrictions are increased in lower density Residential Districts, appropriate locations should be encouraged elsewhere. In many Commercial Districts in Staten Island and Bronx Community District 10, a restrictive bulk envelope, limited allowable floor area and high parking requirements make it costly and often inefficient to build modern medical offices or day care centers in appropriate commercial corridors. The Department of City Planning recommends the following changes to encourage these uses in Commercial Districts where larger buildings are more appropriate and can serve more customers.

  • Bulk Envelope Regulations
    The bulk envelope for a building providing day care centers or medical offices is defined by the sky exposure plane. In C1 and C2 Districts mapped within R1-R3 Districts, the front wall of a building may rise to a height of 30’ or two stories, whichever is less, before the sky exposure plane begins.

    The front wall height restriction creates challenges to constructing modern, large medical offices or day care centers. Oftentimes for economic reasons this difficulty is circumvented by sacrificing large amounts of potential floor area to build a smaller building, without differing floor plates. This limits the amount of day care and health care services provided in appropriate commercial areas.


    Proposal
    The proposed text amendment will raise the maximum front wall height for C1 or C2 Districts mapped within R1-R3 Districts to a height of 35’ or three stories. The overall building height will still be determined by the sky exposure plane. That portion of a day care center or medical office located within 20 feet of a Residential District will be limited to the current front wall height of 30 feet or two stories, whichever is less to allow a transition to the adjacent residential buildings.

  • Maximum Floor Area Ratio
    Day care centers and medical offices are limited to a maximum floor area ratio of 1.0 in C1 or C2 Districts mapped within R3-1, R3A and R3X Districts,, providing no incentive to provide these needed services as opposed to more retail or commercial uses.  

    Proposal
    The proposed text amendment will increase the allowable floor area ratio to 1.2 for buildings providing day care centers or medical offices in C1 or C2 Districts mapped within R3-1, R3A and R3X Districts.

  • Parking Requirements
    Currently day care centers are not required to provide parking spaces. This often results in employees and parents parking in adjacent commercial parking lots causing problems for those businesses and their customers.

    The existing parking requirements for medical facilities in Commercial Districts are oftentimes very stringent in C1, C2 and C4 Commercial Districts with requirements of either 1 space per 150 sq. ft. of floor area or 1 per 300 sq. ft. of floor area.  In a survey of suburban medical offices across the country, these requirements exceeded the average peak parking demands. These requirements can become a significant barrier to providing larger, modern medical offices to serve local health care needs.


    Proposal
    The proposed text amendment will establish a parking requirement for day care centers located in C1, C2, and C4 Commercial Districts of 1 space per every 1000 square feet of floor area. This parking ratio is derived from the average number of employees mandated by state licensing requirements, which differs based upon the age of the children served.

    The proposed text amendment will modify the stringent 1 per 150 and 1 per 300 sq. ft. of floor area parking requirements for medical offices located in C1, C2, and C4 Commercial Districts to 1 space per 400 square feet. This reflects the national average for suburban medical offices to meet peak parking demands.

    The current parking waiver for small pre-existing commercial zoning lots which is applicable throughout most of the Borough will be extended to buildings with medical offices and day care centers. On pre-existing small commercial lots of less than 4,000 square feet parking can be waived to allow these uses to be constructed in smaller buildings. Zoning lots will not be permitted to be subdivided after the date of adoption in order to waive the parking requirements.

    In order to avoid future conversions to commercial/retail uses with limited parking, any building that includes both commercial/retail uses and medical offices or day care centers on the ground floor must use the higher commercial parking requirements for the entire ground floor.


  • Parking Garage Regulations
    The city adopted parking lot maneuverability standards and landscaping requirements, however they do not apply to enclosed parking structures. Since these rules may encourage parking garages, it is important to ensure that they meet appropriate screening standards with landscaping. It is also important that the need for parking can be balanced with open space for children in day care centers.

    Proposal
    The proposed text amendment would require that enclosed parking areas provide screening and apply the existing maneuverability standards to parking spaces used for day care centers and medical offices in C1, C2, and C4 Districts. The amendment will also provide an incentive for day care centers to provide play space by waiving perimeter landscaping requirements for parking areas which are enclosed by a roof which serves as a children’s play space.




Prior Staten Island Task Force Initiatives
Overview
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



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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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