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Land Use, Housing & Zoning

Application by DCP to amend the city's zoning text to establish a special permit for new hotel development in Light Manufacturing (M1) districts

WHEREAS, The Department of City Planning (DCP) proposes a citywide zoning text amendment to introduce a special permit under the jurisdiction of the City Planning Commission (CPC) for new hotels in light manufacturing (M1) districts (the Proposed Action); and

WHEREAS, The stated purpose and goal of the proposal is to support the Mayor’s Housing New York Plan, released in 2014, that emphasizes the demand for additional housing to meet the needs of a growing population; and

WHEREAS, According to the City Environmental Quality Review (CEQR) ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT STATEMENT (EAS) 18DCP042Y, Manufacturing (M) districts present an area of opportunity to accommodate increasing growth; and

WHEREAS, Hotel use is currently permitted as-of-right; and

WHEREAS, Under the Proposed Action, such uses in M1 districts would require a special permit; and

WHEREAS, CB5 has a large number of blocks that are zoned M1 and therefore will be significantly impacted by the proposed zoning text amendment; and

WHEREAS, M1 districts were designed to support light manufacturing and have recently seen a proliferation of as-of-right hotels that present as one of the most competitive uses allowed in M1 districts and;

WHEREAS, Other M districts (M2 & M3) were, in 1974, amended to require certain non-manufacturing uses such as hotels to apply for special permit; and

WHEREAS, Hotels planned for M1 districts remained as-of-right; and

WHEREAS, DCP states that the largest increase in hotel construction has been in areas other than Manhattan in the past ten years, the bulk of the increase in hotel development within the borough of Manhattan has been in Midtown; and

WHEREAS, M1 districts, particularly those within the boundaries of Manhattan Community Board Five, are especially attractive to hotel developers; and

WHEREAS, CB5 is not in favor of the proliferation of hotels, which brings higher FAR and less parking to our M1 districts, but is concerned with the anticipated and highly likely outcome of the ease in the ability for developers to make hardship cases, which in all probability will bring more residential buildings; and

WHEREAS, Currently the hotel as-of-right use has been an important factor when CB5 recommends denial of BSA variances to allow residential development; and

WHEREAS, CB5 believes if a hotel use is no longer as-of-right, hardship cases may be easier to get approved, dangerously depriving the community of an opportunity to mitigate impact of residential development; and

WHEREAS, Community Board Five is concerned with the unintended consequence of the BSA issuing hardship variances for residential development, which would place an undue burden on our district, including our school system as well as our transit system; and

WHEREAS, CB5 is concerned with the impact to the Garment District, that is in large part in an M1 District, particularly the loss of manufacturing (as is evident in CB5’s position regarding the City’s current proposal to rezone the Garment District); and

WHEREAS, If the proposed zoning text amendment is adopted, an applicant filing for hardship with the BSA may have a stronger chance to succeed because a zoning-compliant use such as hotel would no longer have to be studied to make the case for hardship, leading to a potential increase of approvals for residential buildings by way of BSA variance, which would equate to hugely detrimental spot zoning; and

WHEREAS, Community Board Five believes that this unintended consequence of requiring special permits for hotels in the Midtown corridor could generate a new set of concerns and problems for businesses and residents of this neighborhood; therefore be it

RESOLVED, Community Board Five recommends denial of the application proposing a zoning text amendment to require a City Planning Commission special permit for new hotels in M1 districts unless:

  1. Manhattan CB5 is excluded from the proposed zoning text amendment and/or
  2. DCP determines a fool-proof protocol for closing the hardship loophole, which would prevent the development of residential buildings in M1 districts.

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