| The Department
of City Planning proposes zoning text amendments
to better meet the goals of the Special Natural
the proposed amendments. Following is a summary
of the proposed changes:|
1) Add stronger
steep slope, tree and vegetation preservation measures
adapted from the Special Hillsides Preservation District
mapped in Staten Island (see Article XI, Chapter 9 of the
Zoning Resolution, adopted in 1987, revised 1999), including
lot coverage controls and private road standards.
The SNAD amendment will incorporate standards from the
Hillsides district. The newer Hillsides standards are
more effective than the current SNAD regulations in guiding
development to preserve steep slopes, hillsides, trees
and vegetation and prevent erosion. The text change will:
- a) Incorporate the Hillsides definitions
- i) Tier I (0
to 10% flat topography)
ii) Tier II (10 to 25% hillside topography)
iii) Steep Slope greater than 25%.
The SNAD definition of steep slope will change from 15% or greater, to 25% or
greater slope. All topography between 10 and 25% will become part of the Tier
II category and will continue to require City Planning Commission authorization.
The SNAD steep slope authorization will be changed to match the more effective
Hillsides steep slope authorization.
b) Adopt the Hillsides building lot-coverage controls for hillsides and
steep slopes so that permitted lot coverage decreases as degree of slope increases.
|Tier II |
c) Increase tree preservation and planting requirements to save
the greatest of 51% oftree credits originally on site or 1 tree credit per
1000 square feet of zoning lot.
d) Specify erosion controls and protect the critical root zone of trees
e) Adopt the Hillsides grading controls and site planning standards for
private roads and driveways to fit roads into the landscape and reduce the amount
Replace the grandfather provision with new
standards that apply equally to developed and
vacant lots to preserve significant natural
Over 50% of lots in the SNAD are grandfathered
and do not require preservation of natural
features. When the district was adopted and
mapped in 1975, any
zoning lot of less than 40,000 square feet containing a residential building
was grandfathered to allow site alteration and building enlargement as-of-right.
Currently, only new development on a grandfathered lot requires City Planning
Under the current regulations, natural features
on grandfathered lots are not well protected.
Enlargement of grandfathered residential
buildings and alteration of natural features
on grandfathered sites, which includes site
grading and removal of all trees and other
natural features, are permitted as-of-right.
The district has seen the enlargement of
grandfathered homes to their maximum building
footprint, the cut, fill and paving of natural
topography to the property line and the removal
of all trees on some grandfathered lots.
These changes have a considerable effect
on natural features and neighborhood character.
proposes to replace the grandfather clause
in order to protect significant natural
features on grandfathered lots. As a result,
site alteration and most building enlargement
on formerly grandfathered lots would require
City Planning Commission review. Development
of new buildings on most formerly grandfathered
lots would still require City Planning Commission
review unless they meet new criteria allowing
as-of-right development described below.
a formerly grandfathered lot is Tier I (less
than 10% slope), less than 10,000
sq. ft. lot area, and has no significant
natural features, development or enlargement
up to 2,500 sq. ft. of lot coverage will
be permitted as-of-right subject to performance
3) On small lots with no significant natural
features, allow as-of-right development guided
by performance standards
The Department of City Planning concluded that City Planning Commission review
of small sites with generic natural features such as flat topography and scattered
trees could be made as-of-right as long as performance standards are specified
and followed. The City Planning Commission would focus resources on significant
The new standards will regulate all building enlargement, site
alteration and development based on lot size, topography and presence of natural
Both vacant lots and formerly grandfathered lots will fall into several new
Category - Enlargement or development
of up to 2,500 square feet total footprint
permitted as-of-right if site is 10,000 square
feet or less, Tier I topography and has no
significant natural features. Project must
meet performance standards to save trees.
A site that could be developed as-of-right subject
to performance standards.
All other development, enlargement or site alteration would continue to require
City Planning Commission review for certification or authorization. For example:
- If project meets as-of-right criteria but cannot meet performance standards
If project meets as-of-right criteria but wants to develop more than 2,500
If lot size is greater than 10,000 square feet
If site of any lot size has hillside Tier II or steep slope topography
If site of any size has other significant natural features (forest, rock outcropping,
wetland or water feature, etc.)
4) Add clear performance standards, change some
special permits to authorizations, and add some
certifications for site alteration and enlargement
on formerly grandfathered lots
- a) Change two special permits to authorizations so
that staff and developers have more flexibility in site planning to preserve
natural features. The special permits are:
- (1) modification of yard, height and setback regulations, and parking location
(2) alteration of natural features (rock outcropping, steep
slope in NA-2).
b) Allow in-ground swimming pools as-of-right if
modification of topography at pool edge is no more than 2 feet up or down. This
would apply to formerly grandfathered and vacant flat sites of any lot size,
if no tree removal is required.
c) Performance standards – The
Hillsides performance standards detailed above will provide clear guidelines
to minimize effect of development on hillsides, steep slopes, trees and other
vegetation. Specific performance standards will allow for more predictable review
of applications, which will benefit the applicant-homeowner, the city, and the
the plant list used to identify natural features
and select plants for landscaping. The
existing SNAD plant list is broad and defines
ecosystems, which is helpful for
identifying certain natural features; however,
it is too broad to meet the individual homeowner’s
landscaping needs. The narrower plant list
from the Hillsides District, which was designed
with the home owner in mind, will be adopted
for the SNAD. The existing broad plant list
will remain a part of the SNAD.
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