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Zoning Districts
Introduction to Zoning Districts

Zoning Text | Zoning Maps | Zoning Districts | Zoning Tools | About Zoning | Glossary

Introduction | Residence Districts | Commercial Districts | Mfg. Districts | Special Purpose Districts

Introduction to Zoning Districts

New York City’s Zoning Resolution has two parts: zoning text and zoning maps. The text establishes zoning districts and sets forth regulations governing their land use and development. The maps show the locations and boundaries of the zoning districts.

The city is divided into three basic zoning districts: residential (R), commercial (C) and manufacturing (M).1 The three basic districts are further divided into a range of lower-, medium- and higher-density residential, commercial and manufacturing districts.

Any of these districts may in turn be overlaid by special purpose zoning districts tailored to the unique characteristics of certain neighborhoods. Some blockfronts in residential districts may have a commercial overlay district as well in order to provide neighborhood retail stores and services. Limited Height Districts, another type of overlay district, impose height limits on new buildings in certain historic districts designated by the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission. These overlay districts modify and supplement the controls of the underlying zoning districts.

The residential, commercial and manufacturing chapters summarize the regulations for each zoning district and illustrate the typical building forms they are likely to produce.

Each zoning district regulates:
• permitted uses listed in one or more of 18 use groups;
• the size of the building in relation to the size of the zoning lot, known as the floor area ratio or FAR;
• for residential uses, the number of dwelling units permitted, the amount of open space and plantings required on the zoning lot and the maximum amount of the lot that can be covered by a building;
• the distance between the building and the front, side and rear lot lines;
• the amount of required or permitted parking; and
• other features applicable to specific residential, commercial or manufacturing districts.

1Residential, commercial, industrial/transportation, and public facility uses currently occupy about 65 percent of the city’s total lot area. Another 10 percent is vacant or occupied by parking or miscellaneous uses. The remaining lot area, about 25 percent, is parkland or other open space, most of which is not subject to zoning regulations. (Lot area is exclusive of streets, which comprise about 21 percent of the city’s gross land area.)

Zoning Text | Zoning Maps | Zoning Districts | Zoning Tools | About Zoning | Glossary

Introduction | Residence Districts | Commercial Districts | Mfg. Districts | Special Purpose Districts

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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