Elevate Transit: Zoning for Accessibility | Kramer Levin Naftalis and Frankel LLP

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and the Department of City Planning have proposed a city-wide zoning text change designed to increase the accessibility of transit stations (Zoning for Accessibility). The text was returned for public review by the Planning Commission (CPC) on April 13. The text provides a framework for coordinating the location and delivery of transit station improvements with new developments and nearby expansions that involve ground-level construction (Development) in all but the most zoning districts. weak of the city. The central element of the proposal is a system-wide easement requirement that would apply to developments on zoning lots of 5,000 square feet or more located within 50 feet of a transit station. . These adjustments would be necessary to determine whether a volume of transit easement is required and, if necessary, provide an easement for that volume. The enactment also includes an expanded transit improvement bonus program and several other means of obtaining zoning relief when volumes or transportation easement improvements are provided.

  • Required transit easement. Development on zoning lots of 5,000 square feet or more located within 50 feet of a transit station in most zoning districts would be required to obtain joint certification from the MTA and CPC President stating if a public transport easement is necessary (Joint Certification) before submitting an application to the Ministry of Buildings for any excavation, foundation, new construction or modification permit. If a transit easement is required, the MTA, in consultation with the owner and CPC chairperson, would determine its size and location (transit volume). A legally enforceable instrument granting an easement for the transit volume is required before the issuance of a building permit. The text provides for targeted zoning relief as of right in order to minimize the potential construction and design challenges caused by a required volume of public transport (zoning changes related to public transport).
  • Optional transportation easement. Developments and conversions on zoning lots of less than 5,000 square feet located within 50 feet of a transit station in most zoning districts may voluntarily offer to provide a volume of transportation easement in common. If an optional transit volume is accepted, the development or conversion is also eligible for transit-related zoning changes.
  • Expanded public transit improvement bonus program. Zoning for accessibility would broaden the scope of the transit floor area bonus program and streamline the process for obtaining a transit bonus. A new CPC (non-ULURP) authorization (proposed ZR 66-51, Public transport bonus authorization) would replace the existing special metro bonus permit (ZR 74-634). The authorization of the public transport bonus would still require a review by the community’s board of directors and the president of the borough before the CPC approves the authorization. Under current zoning controls, the bonus is only available at sites adjacent to subway stations in downtown Brooklyn and high-density shopping districts in Manhattan. The text would extend the bonus to a wider range of zoning districts and to a larger geographic area within those districts. The bonus would be available for sites that provide major transit improvements located up to 500 feet (or 1,500 feet in a central business district) from the outermost extent of a station (which may include buildings that contain transit volume). The transit bonus authorization would allow floor area bonuses of up to 20% of the maximum base DSC. As is the case with transit improvement bonuses today, the amount of the floor area bonus would be determined by CPC under a standard that takes into account the degree to which road improvements. station improve access for transit customers and the station environment.
  • Additional discretionary approvals. An additional exemption (in addition to that authorized as of right by transit-related zoning changes) from the designated volume, parking, streetscape and planting requirements is available by authorization or, if a repair even greater is requested, by a special permit, together with a request. for a public transport premium authorization and for a compulsory or optional transport easement.

In addition to the above, the existing ZR 37-40 subway staircase relocation requirements, which apply in the special districts of Midtown, Lower Manhattan, Downtown Brooklyn, Long Island City, Union Square, and East Harlem Corridors , would be eligible for zoning related to public transport. Amendments.


If accessibility zoning is enacted, 501 transit stations would be located in districts subject to mandatory and optional transit easements, and sites within designated distances of 157 transit stations would be eligible for l public transport premium authorization. The streamlined process for floor area bonuses and zoning changes could potentially provide additional flexibility and opportunities to improve developments, but the broad scope of the proposed text and its lack of specificity raises significant concerns about its impact on the affected properties.

Even the seemingly simple threshold question of whether a lot is located within 50 feet of a transit station will likely require consultation with the MTA to determine from which part of a station the 50 feet should. be measured. Properties subject to the required transportation easement must first obtain joint certification before applying for excavation, foundation, new construction or modification permits, which will lengthen the pre-development process. There is no time limit to finalize a transit volume easement agreement, the signing and registration of which is a prerequisite for the issuance of any foundation, new construction or modification permit. There is also no limitation on the size of a transit volume or any prototype in the text. As proposed, the timing, process and scope of the required transit volume is unpredictable. This will add uncertainty to the appraisal and, therefore, the ability to finance and price properties that are subject to the proposed text, and another layer of complexity to the eligibility process for nearby developments. from the city’s public transport stations.

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