Step5: Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP)

The New York City Charter requires certain actions that are reviewed by the City Planning Commission to undergo a Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP). ULURP is 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, Community Boards, the Borough Presidents, the Borough Boards, the City Council and the Mayor.

ULURP Process

Upon filing, 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.

DCP is responsible for certifying that the application is complete, and ready for public review through the ULURP process.

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, 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 City Planning Commission for certification after six months from the date of application submission.

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.

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 City Planning Commission, 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.

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 City Planning Commission. If the Borough President fails to act within the time limit, the application proceeds to City Planning Commission.

City Planning Commission 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 the lower concourse of 120 Broadway. Adoption of a City Planning Commission 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. City Planning Commission then files copies of its decision with the City Council. In most cases, disapproval of an application by City Planning Commission 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).

The City Council does not automatically review all ULURP actions that are approved by City Planning Commission. 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 actions.

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 City Planning Commission files its report (Council "call-up"):

  • City Map changes;
  • maps of subdivisions or plattings;
  • zoning special permits;
  • revocable consents, franchise RFP’s, and major concessions;
  • 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.
Applications disapproved by the Community Board and Borough President (Triple no):

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 City Planning Commission approval with the Council and City Planning Commission within 5 days of receipt of City Planning Commission's approval.

Within 50 days of receipt of the City Planning Commission 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 City Planning Commission. City Planning Commission 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 City Planning Commission 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, City Planning Commission 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 City Planning Commission actions, requires a majority vote of the Council. Urban Renewal Plans that have been disapproved by City Planning Commission 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.

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 City Planning Commission 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 City Planning Commission decision within ten days of the veto.