Proposed Zoning Changes – Zoning for Quality and Affordability
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
There has been much discussion recently surrounding the large number of luxury apartments being built in Manhattan and the loss of affordable housing and retail business spaces. We see these issues in Murray Hill. While changes to zoning laws have been proposed that may address some of these issues, there may also be unintended side effects, including the provision that allows for extra height. On September 21, 2015, the New York City Planning Commission referred the Zoning for Quality and Affordability text amendment for public review. Liz Krueger, New York State Senator, has brought some issues with the proposed changes to our attention in her Fall 2015 Neighborhood Update newsletter.
In medium and high density zoning districts, key changes under the proposal would:
- Allow residential buildings limited additional height – no more than five feet, in over 95% of cases – if they provide a taller ground floor
- Allow limited additional height – no more than one or two stories, in over 95% of cases – to fit the additional floor area allowed for buildings providing affordable senior housing or Inclusionary Housing, in areas that have been designated for it
- Introduce a limit on the number of stories for buildings, to ensure that additional stories cannot be squeezed in within these heights
- Allow buildings a few feet of room to set back from the sidewalk and provide garden areas in front of the building
- Allow a spectrum of affordable senior housing and care facilities – ranging from independent living to State-licensed facilities like assisted living and nursing care – alone or in combination
- Make parking optional for new affordable housing units in transit-accessible areas
Through zoning actions a second proposal for a Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program would require a share of new housing to be permanently affordable.
The proposed changes are expected to go through the City’s environmental and land use review process, the ULURP, starting in September 2015, for approximately six months, completing the process with a City Council Review in early 2016. During this process there will be public hearings and opportunities for recommendations from all Community Boards and the five Borough Presidents.
While we recognize that there are strong forces for change in Murray Hill, it is important also to protect neighborhood integrity. Liz Krueger has noted that by increasing height limits across the board, the administration is undermining agreements made between previous administrations and neighborhood residents. She has urged the Mayor to ensure a robust public review process with ample opportunity for community boards and the public to weigh in on these proposals.
You can express your opinions on the plan and contact the New York City Department of City Planning through their website form. Comments received via this form will be considered as part of the public outreach efforts. They may also be included, as appropriate, on the Department of City Planning's project website.