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Land Use, Housing & Zoning

Resolution on the Zoning for Quality & Affordability Text Amendment.

WHEREAS, The Department of City Planning proposes a text change to the Zoning Resolution that seeks to improve the quality and affordability of new buildings; and

WHEREAS, DCP seeks to make it easier to provide the range of affordable senior housing and care facilities needed to meet the varied needs of an aging population, and to help seniors remain in their communities; and

WHEREAS, DCP wants to enable Inclusionary Housing buildings, which provide mixed-income housing, to construct quality buildings that fit the full amount of housing they are allowed under zoning today; and

WHEREAS, DCP would like to reduce unnecessarily high costs of building transit-accessible affordable housing, and make taxpayer dollars go further toward meeting our affordable housing goals; and

WHEREAS, DCP wants to change rules that lead to flat, dull apartment buildings, to accommodate and encourage façade articulation, courtyards, and other elements that provide visual variety and make the pedestrian experience more interesting; and

WHEREAS, DCP believes these changes would encourage better ground-floor retail spaces and residential units with adequate ceiling heights; and

WHEREAS, CB5 believes that if DCP seeks a greater amount of ground floor retail, the department should consider requiring ground floor retail for properties on wide streets taking advantage of the increased height allowed under ZQA; and 

WHEREAS, There are many positive policy changes within ZQA including elimination of a special permit for nursing homes, elimination of the 400 sq ft minimum unit size for residences and the modifications; and

WHEREAS, By designating all R10 Program areas as Inclusionary Housing Designated Areas (in Appendix F of the Zoning Resolution), there would be greater affordable housing production in Manhattan Community District 5 and a greater share of the affordable units subsidized by the 421-a tax exemption would be permanently affordable (as opposed to the current situation where many publicly subsidized units will revert to market-rate after 35 years); and

WHEREAS, Though CB5 in its comments on the draft scope of work for the EIS and in subsequent discussions with DCP has expressed its position that all R10 program areas in Manhattan Community District 5 should become Inclusionary Housing Designated Areas, DCP has declined to modify the voluntary inclusionary housing program through ZQA which unfortunately will leave many permanently affordable units on the table; and

WHEREAS, The proposed Zoning Text Amendment would bring the maximum as-of-right height in the Ladies Miles Historic District from 185 feet to 225 feet, a drastic height increase that may encourage development proposals that are not historically contextual; and

WHEREAS, The current height, setback, rear yard rules were revised recently (2004) and allow a flexible enough building envelope to generate affordable housing especially in conjunction with the 74-711 special permit; and

WHEREAS, Changing the height limits could have a detrimental impact on the historic district and its scale; and

WHEREAS, Because inclusionary housing development in the Ladies Mile Historic District oftentimes now seeks a special permit which affords CB5 and the City Council the opportunity to negotiate such terms as affordable access for low-income tenants to such building spaces as a children's play room or roof common space, the proposed changes could make it more likely that new developments exclude low-income tenants from being full members of their building which would not further goal of integration; and  

WHEREAS, The ZQA should leave the height regulations of the Ladies Mile Historic district unchanged; and 

WHEREAS, While "Affordable Independent Residence for Seniors" would be entitled to build to 12 FAR, we are concerned that these residences for seniors may not be permanently affordable (and that the time line for affordability would only be subject to negotiations with the NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development, the results of which community boards would have no opportunity to comment)

RESOLVED, Manhattan Community Board Five recommends denial unless the following conditions are met:

1)      The R10 program areas in Manhattan Community District 5 are designated as Inclusionary Housing Designated Areas pursuant to Appendix F of the Zoning Resolution; and

2)      The existing height maximums should remain in the Ladies Mile Historic District

3)      For a developer to build "Affordable Independent Residence for Seniors," the zoning text must require that the site be permanently affordable for the life of the building

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