Prior to 1976, the City Planning Commission reviewed
only applications related to zoning, the city map and
urban renewal and housing. In 1976, the list of applications
subject to Commission review was enlarged and now includes,
pursuant to the City Charter enacted in 1989, those
below. The Charter's intent in requiring ULURP was
to establish a standardized procedure whereby applications
affecting the land use of the city would be publicly
reviewed. The Charter also established mandated time
frames within which application review must take place.
Key participants in the ULURP process are now the Department
of City Planning (DCP) and the City
Planning Commission (CPC), Community Boards, the
Borough Presidents, the Borough Boards, the City Council
and the Mayor.
of the process
Evolution of ULURP
Rules: as adopted by the City Planning Commission
on June 27, 1990, as amended
Use Review Applications: Instructions and forms
for applications to the NYC Department of City Planning
for approval of land use actions
Evolution of ULURP
On November 4, 1975, the city's voters approved a new
City Charter. Section 197-c of the new charter stated
that "applications by any person or agency respecting
the use, development, or improvement of real property
subject to city regulation shall be reviewed pursuant
to a uniform review procedure." That section further
required the City Planning Commission to establish procedures
for such review by June 1, 1976. On June 1, 1976, after
a public review process, the Commission adopted these
procedures, commonly known as ULURP. The procedures
became applicable to applications filed with the City
Planning Commission starting on July 1, 1976. Subsequent
charter changes in 1989 (and consequent ULURP Rules
changes) continued this process with changes to reflect
the dissolution of the Board of Estimate and the assumption
of land use powers by the City Council.
The establishment of ULURP reflected two trends underway
in the 1950s and 1960s: the increasing involvement
of the city's Community Boards in the development of
the city and a substantial increase in community participation
in many aspects of government. The boards originated
in Manhattan in 1951, when Manhattan Borough President
Robert F. Wagner established 12 Community Planning Councils,
later known as Community Planning Boards. These boards
were the city's first formal participatory vehicles
for neighborhood groups. The planning councils were
designed to advise the Borough President on local planning
and budgetary matters. The other borough presidents
created similar groups.
In the late 1960's, there was a significant upsurge
in community participation, aided in part by a requirement
of community participation in Federal programs such
as Model Cities. In 1968, as required by the City Charter
of 1963, the city was divided into 62 community districts
and the role of community boards as advisors to the
city government was statutorily established. Each board
was given the responsibility for advising the City Planning
Commission on "any matter relating to the development
or welfare of its district." In 1968, Section 84
of the City Charter which established Community Planning
Boards, was repealed and reenacted under Local Law 39.
The law spelled out in greater detail the structure
and power of the now renamed Community Boards. Local
Law 39 required that city departments shall:
- refer to the community boards all matters
requiring public hearings by furnishing their calendars
or notices of meeting to the board chairman.
- note in their records the recommendations
of community boards made at public hearings and the
failure of community boards to make recommendations.
- notify the community boards of actions
taken subsequent to public hearings.
- give the community boards such information
necessary for their work which they shall require.
During the next decade, the boards gained stature as
effective vehicles for the expression of local views
on a wide variety of public issues, especially those
related to land use.
The State Charter Revision Commission for New York
City, established by legislation in 1972, viewed the
boards as appropriate recipients of new responsibilities
and duties in relation to land use and development and
these were included in the new City Charter adopted
by the voters on November 4, 1975. The city is now divided
into 59 community districts, each represented by a Community
Board with up to 50 members who live or work within
the district. Board members, who serve without pay,
are appointed by the Borough President, half on the
recommendation of local City Council members.
Section 197-c, subsection a of the City Charter makes
the following actions subject to ULURP:
- Changes to the City Map. The City Map is
the official adopted map of the city. It shows the
location, dimension and grades of streets, parks,
public places and certain public easements. The Director
of City Planning is the custodian of the City Map.
Mapping of subdivisions or platting of land into
streets, avenues or Public Places. This section
has not been used since 1976.
change of zoning districts. The
Zoning Resolution guides the development of the
city and includes regulations dealing with use, bulk
and parking. Zoning districts and boundaries are shown
on the zoning maps and identify the permitted use,
density, height, setback, yard and other bulk regulations
and parking requirements for development on individual
sites. Changes to the zoning maps, including district
designations and boundaries are subject to ULURP.
Amendments to the Zoning Resolution are not subject
to ULURP but go through a similar public review process.
within the Zoning Resolution requiring approval of
the City Planning Commission (CPC). Special
permits are discretionary approvals that can modify
zoning controls such as use, bulk and parking. (Note:
CPC authorizations pursuant to the Zoning Resolution
are not subject to ULURP. Variances and Special Permits
reviewed by the Board of Standards and Appeals are
also not subject to ULURP.)
Site selection for capital projects. This
includes the selection of sites for new city facilities
such as sanitation garages, fire houses, libraries
and sewage treatment plants. A capital project is
the construction or acquisition of a public improvement
classified as a capital asset of the City.
requests for proposals and other solicitations or
franchises, and major concessions. A franchise is a grant by an agency of a right to occupy or use
the inalienable property of the city to provide a
public service such as a private bus line or bus stop
shelters. A revocable
consent is a grant by the city, revocable at
will, for private use on, over or under city property
such as bridges over streets or street furniture.
Revocable consents that the Department of City Planning
has determined do not have land use impacts or implications
are not subject to ULURP. (Note:
sidewalk cafes are revocable consents that are reviewed
pursuant to a process established in the city's Administrative
Code. The City Planning Commission does not review
such applications). A major
concession is a grant made by an agency for
the private use of city-owned property, and which
has significant land use impacts and implications
or which requires the preparation of an environmental
impact statement. The City Planning Commission has
established rules for determining if a concession is major and requires
Improvements in real property the costs of which
are payable other than by the City. Applications
for such non-city improvements are rarely made.
Housing and urban renewal plans and project pursuant
to city, state and federal laws. Urban Renewal
Plans developed pursuant to the General Municipal
Law (Article 15) are required to be reviewed by the
Charter and State Law.
Sanitary or waterfront landfills.
Disposition of city owned property. This
includes sale, lease or exchange of real property.
Acquisition of real property by the city. Office space acquisition is excluded and subject to
a separate review pursuant to Section 195 of the City
of Application. An applicant must file a
Use Review Application and all required accompanying
documentation with the Department of City Planning (DCP).
Copies of all applications and accompanying material
are sent to the affected Borough President, Community
Board and the City Council within five business days
of receipt. If the application involves land in more
than one community district it is also sent to the appropriate
borough board. The Borough Board is comprised of the
Borough President, all Community Board chairs and City
Council members within the affected borough.
Certification. DCP is responsible for certifying that the application
is complete, and ready for public review through the
An application cannot be certified until DCP determines
that the application includes all forms, plans and supporting
documents that are necessary to address all issues related
to the application. If the particular application is
subject to environmental review, a negative declaration
or a conditional negative declaration or a notice of
completion of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement
must be issued before an application can be certified.
There is no mandated time by which this pre-certification
review must be completed. The Charter permits applicants
or the affected Borough President to appeal to CPC for
certification after six months from the date of application
Certified applications are sent within nine days to
the affected Community Board, Borough President and
the City Council and if appropriate, to the Borough
Board Review. Within sixty (60) days of receiving
the certified application, the Community Board is required
to hold a public hearing and adopt and submit a written
recommendation to CPC, the applicant, the Borough President
and when appropriate, the Borough Board. The ULURP rules
include provisions relating to the notice and conduct
of a Community Board public hearing. ULURP provisions
also govern the quorum, vote and content for a Community
Board recommendation. If a Community Board fails to
act within its time limit or waives its right to act,
the application proceeds to the next level of review.
President Review. Within thirty (30) days
of receipt of a Community Board recommendation, or if
the Community Board fails to act, within thirty (30)
days of the expiration of the Community Board's review
period, the Borough President shall submit a written
recommendation to the City Planning Commission. If an
application involves land in more than one community
district, the Borough Board may (within the Borough
President's review period) also review and submit a
recommendation to CPC. If the Borough President fails
to act within the time limit, the application proceeds
Planning Commission Review. CPC must hold a public
hearing and approve, approve with modifications or disapprove
the application within 60 days of the expiration of
the Borough President's review period. City
Planning Commission hearings are generally held
twice a month on Wednesdays in Spector Hall at 22 Reade
Street. Adoption of a CPC report approving, modifying
or disapproving an application requires an affirmative
vote of seven commissioners. If the Borough President
has recommended against an application for site selection,
disposition of city owned property or acquisition and
has recommended an alternative site pursuant to the
fair share provisions of the Charter (section 204),
then nine affirmative votes are required. CPC then files
copies of its decision with the City Council. In most
cases, disapproval of an application by CPC is final
and terminates ULURP. Disapproved applications for urban
renewal plans are subject to Council review. In addition,
disapproved applications for special permits, zoning
text changes and zoning map changes that the Mayor has
certified as necessary are subject to review by the
City Council. (Note:
No "certificate of necessity" has been issued
by any mayor since ULURP went into effect).
Council Review. The City Council does not
automatically review all ULURP actions that are approved
by CPC. The Charter requires the Council to review certain
actions, some only under special circumstances, and
makes provision for the Council to elect to review other
The City Council automatically
reviews (Mandatory Review):
- zoning map changes;
- zoning text changes (not subject to ULURP
but subject to Charter section 200 and 201);
- housing and urban renewal plans;
- disposition of residential buildings,
except to non-profit companies for low-income housing
The Council may elect
to review the following by voting to take jurisdiction
within 20 days after CPC files its report (Council "call-up"):
- - City Map changes;
- - maps of subdivisions or plattings;
- - zoning special permits;
- - revocable consents, franchise RFPs, and
- - non-City public improvements;
- - sanitary and waterfront landfills;
- - disposition of commercial or vacant property;
- - disposition of residential buildings to nonprofit
companies for low-income housing;
- - acquisition of real property; and
- - site selection.
by the Community Board and Borough President (Triple
- An application which is subject to elective review
by the Council, will be reviewed if that application
was disapproved by the Community Board and Borough
President, was approved or approved with modifications
by the City Planning Commission, and the Borough President
files an objection to CPC approval with the Council
and CPC within 5 days of receipt of CPC's approval.
Within 50 days of receipt of the CPC report on an application
that is either subject to mandatory review, is "called-up"
by the Council, or is a "triple no" application,
the Council must hold a public hearing, and approve,
approve with modifications or disapprove the decision
of the City Planning Commission.
If, during the course of its 50-day review period,
the Council decides it wants to approve an application
with a modification, it can do so only by referring
the proposed modification back to CPC. CPC must then
determine if the modification is of such significance
that additional environmental review is necessary or
that additional review pursuant to ULURP is required.
If CPC determines that additional review is needed,
the Council may not adopt the modification. If no additional
review is needed, the Council can adopt the application
with the modification. When the Council proposes a modification,
CPC has 15 days to make its determination and during
that period the City Council's 50-day clock is stopped.
A City Council action approving, approving with modifications
or disapproving most CPC actions, requires a majority
vote of the Council. Urban Renewal Plans that have been
disapproved by CPC can only be approved by a 3/4 vote
of the Council.
If the Council fails to act within its review period,
the Council shall be deemed to have approved the decision
of the City Planning Commission.
Review. Mayoral approval is not required. A decision by the City Council to approve or disapprove a land use application is considered to be final unless the Mayor elects to veto a Council action within 5 days of the vote. The Council, by a 2/3 vote, can override a Mayor's veto of its decision within 10 days of the veto.
Applications approved by CPC that the Council did not assume jurisdiction or act on within its 50 day review can also be vetoed by the Mayor within 5 days of the expired Council time period. The Council , by a 2/3 vote, can override a Mayor's veto of the CPC decision within ten days of the veto.
ULURP process is graphically
shown in a diagram in PDF format (22K).
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