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Land Use, Housing & Zoning

Presentation from NYC Department for City Planning (DCP) on Zoning for Accessibility, a transit-related citywide text amendment

At the regularly scheduled monthly Community Board Five meeting on Thursday, May 13, 2021, the following resolution passed with a vote of 39 in favor; 0 opposed; 1 abstaining:

WHEREAS, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and the New York City Department of City Planning (DCP) (the “Applicants”) are proposing a citywide zoning text amendment to the New York City Zoning Resolution (ZR) to establish a framework for coordinating the siting and provision of transit station improvements with new developments on adjacent sites via a system-wide easement requirement (the “Easement Requirement”) and an expanded transit improvement bonus program (the “Bonus Program”); and

WHEREAS, The Easement Requirement and Bonus Program would provide targeted zoning relief and bonus density for eligible developments in return for transit upgrades; and

WHEREAS, The Easement Requirement would apply to all zoning lots with an area of at least 5,000 square feet that are within 50 feet of a mass transit station in all residence districts at or above R5D as well as R5 districts with a commercial overlay, all commercial districts with a residential equivalent at or above R5 as well as C7 and C8, and all manufacturing districts; and

WHEREAS, Applicable lots affected by the Easement Requirement must obtain a determination from the related agency on whether a transit easement is needed on the site for future station access, and if so, will be provided zoning relief in return for construction challenges created by the easement; and

WHEREAS, Zoning lots within 50 feet of a mass transit station in eligible districts that are under 5,000 square feet may apply for a voluntary provision for an easement in return for zoning relief by Chair Certification; and

WHEREAS, 501 MTA Stations (out of 533) are located within 50 feet of a lots within designated districts; and

WHEREAS, Zoning relief for the Easement Requirement could include temporary use allowances, commercial use allowances, floor area exemptions, permitted obstruction allowances, reduction in lot coverage maximums, height relief, street wall flexibility, required parking deductions, parking waivers, general streetscape provisions, and curb cut relief; and  

WHEREAS, The Bonus Program would grant floor area bonuses to developments in R9 and R10 districts, their commercial and MX district equivalents, M1-6 districts, and developments within 500 feet of a station or 1,500 feet of a station within Central Business Districts, that construct major station improvements; and

WHEREAS, The Bonus Program would grant a floor area bonus of up to 20% of the maximum floor area ratio (FAR) for developments depending on the degree to which improvements enhance transit customer access and station environment; and

WHEREAS, The Applicants contend that expected to produce development where it would not have occurred absent the Easement Requirement and the Bonus Program; and

WHEREAS, The primary purpose of the Easement Requirement and the Bonus Program are to incentivize and streamline the construction of transit accessibility improvements that are urgently needed throughout the city; and

WHEREAS, The amount of relief provided by the Easement Requirement and the Bonus Program would be at the discretion of the DCP and issued on a case-by-case basis by Chair Certification, rather than using a set of clearly-defined rules; and

WHEREAS, The relief provided by the Easement Requirement and the Bonus Program could have unintended consequences of over-incentivizing density and may not be commensurate with the benefits of the transit improvements; and

WHEREAS, The relief provided by the Easement Requirement and the Bonus Program do not take lot mergers into account, which may significantly increase the bonus floor area granted to those developments; and

WHEREAS, The bonus floor area generated through the Bonus Program for lots that are subject to Mandatory Inclusionary Housing or Voluntary Inclusionary Housing rules would not be subject to affordable housing requirements; and

RESOLVED, Community Board Five recommends denial of the zoning text amendment regarding the Easement Requirement and the Bonus Program, unless the Applicants expand the amendment to require that:

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