This glossary provides brief explanations of planning and zoning terminology. Words
and phrases followed by an asterisk (*) are defined terms in the Zoning Resolution
of the City of New York, primarily in Section 12-10. Consult the Zoning Resolution
for the official and legally binding definitions of these words and phrases.
An attached building* abuts two side
lot lines and is one of a row of buildings on adjoining zoning lots. The end buildings
of a row of attached buildings are considered semi-detached buildings if they each
have a side yard.
A detached building* is a freestanding
building that does not abut any other building on an adjoining zoning lot and where
all sides of the building are surrounded by yards or open areas within the zoning
* is a building that abuts or shares one side lot wall with another
building on an adjoining zoning lot and where the remaining sides of the building
are surrounded by open areas or street lines.
A zero lot line building* is a building
that abuts one side lot line of a zoning lot and does not abut any other building
on an adjoining zoning lot.
A building envelope is the maximum three-dimensional space on a zoning lot within
which a structure can be built, as permitted by applicable height, setback and yard
The height of a building is measured from the curb level or base plane to the roof
of the building (except for permitted obstructions).
A building segment is a portion of a building with its own entrance. For example,
a row of attached townhouses on a single zoning lot is one building, but each townhouse
is a building segment.
Bulk regulations are the combination of controls (lot size, floor area ratio, lot
coverage, open space, yards, height and setback) that determine the maximum size
and placement of a building on a zoning lot.
A bulkhead is a roof-top portion of a building that may include mechanical equipment,
water tanks, and roof access from interior stairwells. It is not counted as floor
area and is permitted to exceed zoning height and setback requirements, within limits
specified in the Zoning Resolution.
A cellar is a level of a building that has more than one-half of its floor-to-ceiling
height below curb level or the base plane. By contrast, a basement has less than
one-half of its floor-to-ceiling height below curb level or the base plane.
A certification is a non-discretionary action taken by the City Planning Commission,
or its Chair, informing the Department of Buildings that an as-of-right development
has complied with specific conditions set forth in accordance with provisions of
the Zoning Resolution.
The term also applies to a step in the ULURP process indicating that an application
is complete and ready to begin formal public review.
City Environmental Quality Review (CEQR)
Pursuant to state law, the City Environmental Quality Review (CEQR) process identifies
and assesses the potential environmental impacts of discretionary actions, except
for minor exemptions, that are proposed in New York City by public or private applicants
and funded or approved by a city agency. A discretionary action, such as a zoning
map amendment, cannot begin public review until a “conditional negative declaration”
or “negative declaration” has been issued, stating that no significant environmental
impacts have been identified or, if any potential impacts have been identified,
a draft environmental impact statement has been completed, evaluating the significance
of identified impacts and proposing appropriate mitigation.
A letter “E” on a zoning map indicates a site where environmental requirements must
be satisfied before a building permit may be issued for any development, enlargement
or change of use.
The City Map is a collection of maps that show legal streets, grades, parks and
other public places. It is the official map of New York City and is the base for
the zoning maps in the Zoning Resolution.
City Planning Commission (CPC)
The City Planning Commission, established in 1936, is a 13-member panel that meets
regularly to hold public hearings and vote on applications related to the use and
improvement of land subject to city regulation. The Mayor appoints the Chair, who
is also Director of the Department of City Planning, and six other members; each
Borough President appoints one member and one member is appointed by the Public
Advocate. The Department of City Planning provides technical support for the work
of the Commission.
A commercial building is any building occupied only by commercial uses as listed
in Use Groups 5 through 16.
A commercial district, designated by the letter C (C1-2, C3, C4-7, for example),
is a zoning district in which commercial uses are allowed and residential uses may
also be permitted.
A commercial overlay is a C1 or C2 district usually mapped within residential neighborhoods
to serve local retail needs. Commercial overlay districts, designated by the letters
C1-1 through C1-5 and C2-1 through C2-5, are shown on the zoning maps as a pattern
superimposed on a residential district.
Unless otherwise specified on the zoning maps, the depth of C1 overlay districts,
measured from the nearest street, is 200 feet for C1-1 districts, 150 feet for C1-2
and C1-3 districts, and 100 feet for C1-4 and C1-5 districts. For C2 overlay districts,
the depth of C2-1, C2-2 and C2-3 districts is 150 feet and 100 feet for C2-4 and
C2-5 districts. When mapped on the long dimension of a block, commercial overlays
extend to the midpoint of that block.
A commercial use is any retail, service or office use listed in Use Groups 5 through
Community Facility Building
A community facility building is any building occupied only by a community facility
Community Facility Use
A community facility use provides educational, recreational, religious, health or
other essential services for the community it serves. Use Groups 3 and 4 are classified
as community facility uses.
Contextual zoning districts regulate the height and bulk of new buildings, their
setback from the street line, and their width along the street frontage, to produce
buildings that are consistent with existing neighborhood character. Medium- and
higher-density residential and commercial districts with an A, B, D or X suffix
are contextual districts.
A conversion is a change of a building’s use to another use for which it was not
A court is any open area, other than a yard or a portion of a yard, which is unobstructed
from its lowest level to the sky, and is bounded by building walls, or building
walls and one or more lot lines.
A curb cut is an inclined cut in the edge of a sidewalk to permit vehicular access
to a driveway, garage, parking lot or loading dock. In lower- and medium-density
residential districts, the maximum width for a curb cut is 10 feet; 15 feet for
paired curb cuts. There must be a minimum width of 16 feet between curb cuts to
ensure adequate curbside parking.
Curb level is the mean level of the curb adjoining a zoning lot. In general, it
is the base from which building height and setback computations are made and building
stories counted in medium- and higher-density non-contextual districts and manufacturing
Density refers to the intensity of development within a zoning district. In residence
districts, density is generally measured by the maximum number of dwelling units
permitted on a zoning lot. The maximum number of units is calculated by dividing
the maximum residential floor area permitted on a zoning lot by the applicable factor
for each zoning district. (Fractions equal to at least ¾ are considered one unit.)
The factors for each district are approximations of average unit size plus allowances
for any common areas. Special density regulations apply to mixed buildings that
contain both residential and community facility uses.
A development includes the construction of a new building or other structure on
a zoning lot, the relocation of an existing building to another lot, or the use
of a tract of land for a new use.
Development rights generally refer to the maximum amount of floor area permissible
on a zoning lot. The difference between the maximum permitted floor area and actual
floor area is referred to as “unused development rights.” Unused development rights
are often described as air rights.
A zoning lot merger is the joining
of two or more adjacent zoning lots into one new zoning lot. Unused development
rights may be shifted from one lot to another, as-of-right, only through a zoning
A transfer of development rights (TDR)
allows for the transfer of unused development rights from one zoning lot to another
in special circumstances, usually to promote the preservation of historic buildings,
open space or unique cultural resources. For such purposes, a TDR is permitted where
the transfer could not be accomplished through a zoning lot merger because certain
conditions, such as intervening streets, separate the zoning lots. In the case of
a landmark building, for example, a transfer may be made by CPC special permit from
the zoning lot containing the designated landmark to an adjacent zoning lot or one
that is directly across a street or, if the landmark is on a corner lot, diagonally
across an intersection.
A discretionary action requires the review and approval of the City Planning Commission
or the Board of Standards and Appeals. Zoning amendments, special permits, authorizations
and variances are discretionary actions.
A dwelling unit (d.u.) consists of one or more rooms that contain lawful cooking
and sanitary facilities, inhabited by one or more persons living together and maintaining
a common household, in a residential building or residential portion of a building.
An enlargement is a built addition to an existing building that increases the floor
area of the building.
An extension is an expansion of the existing floor area occupied by an existing
The floor area of a building is the sum of the gross area of each floor of the building,
excluding mechanical space, cellar space, floor space in open balconies, elevators
or stair bulkheads and, in most zoning districts, floor space used for accessory
parking that is located less than 23 feet above curb level.
Group Parking Facility
A group parking facility is a building or lot used for parking more than one vehicle.
The height factor of a building is equal to the total floor area of the building
divided by its lot coverage (in square feet). The height factor is equal to the
number of stories in a building without setbacks.
Height Factor Building
A height factor building is a residential development whose bulk is determined by
a range of height factors, floor area ratios and open space ratios, and is set within
a sky exposure plane. Height factor regulations promote development of tall buildings
surrounded by open space.
A home occupation is a business operated by the occupant(s) of a home, which is
accessory to the residential use. It is generally restricted to no more than 25
percent of the residential floor area (with a cap of 500 square feet). Specific
occupations that may generate excessive noise, odors or pedestrian traffic are not
The Inclusionary Housing Program permits an increase in the floor area of residential
developments in exchange for the provision of below-market-rate housing (known as
affordable housing) for low-, moderate- and middle-income households. The program
is available in R10 and R10-equivalent commercial districts and other designated
medium- and high-density districts, such as portions of Greenpoint-Williamsburg
Infill zoning permits multifamily housing on blocks entirely within R4 or R5 districts
in predominantly built-up areas. Infill housing has higher floor area ratios and
lower parking requirements than would otherwise be applicable in the zoning district.
Joint Living-Work Quarters for Artists*
Joint living-work quarters for artists are spaces in nonresidential buildings used
for living quarters and studio workshops by artists and their households.
Large Scale Development
A large-scale development is a development generally involving several zoning lots
planned as a unit. Special regulations allow for flexibility, particularly in the
distribution of floor area without regard to lot lines, in order to achieve a superior
Limited Height District
A general large-scale development*
is a development or enlargement for any uses permitted by the underlying district
regulations in commercial districts (except C1, C2, C3 and C4-1 districts) and in
all manufacturing districts. The development must be on a tract of land that is
at least 1.5 acres and may include existing buildings.
A large-scale residential development*
is a development predominantly for residential uses in residence districts and in
C1, C2, C3 and C4-1 districts. The development must be on a tract of land that is
either at least three acres with a minimum of 500 dwelling units or at least 1.5
acres with a minimum of three principal residential buildings. Existing buildings
may not form any part of a large-scale residential development.
A large-scale community facility development*
is a development or enlargement predominantly for community facility uses in residential
districts and in C1, C2, C3 and C4-1 districts. The development must be on a tract
of land that is at least three acres and may include existing buildings.
A limited height district is superimposed on an area designated as an historic district
by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. It is mapped in areas of the Upper East
Side, Gramercy Park, Brooklyn Heights and Cobble Hill. The maximum building height
is 50 feet in a LH-1 district, 60 feet in a LH-1A district, 70 feet in a LH-2 district
and 100 feet in a LH-3 district.
A loft is a building or space within a building designed for commercial or manufacturing
use, generally constructed prior to 1930. In certain manufacturing districts, lofts
may be converted to residential use by CPC special permit.
Lot or Zoning Lot
A lot or zoning lot
is a tract of land comprising
a single tax lot or two or more adjacent tax lots within a block. An apartment building
on a single zoning lot, for example, may contain separate condominium units, each
occupying its own tax lot. Similarly, a building containing a row of townhouses
may occupy several separate tax lots within a single zoning lot, or two or more
detached homes on one zoning lot may each have its own tax lot.
The zoning lot is the base unit for zoning regulations and may be subdivided into
two or more zoning lots, and two or more adjoining zoning lots on the same block
may be merged, provided that all resulting zoning lots comply with applicable regulations.
A corner lot* is a zoning lot that
adjoins the point of intersection of two or more streets; it is also a zoning lot
bounded entirely by streets. Portions of such zoning lots within 100 feet of intersecting
street lines are subject to rules for corner lots.
An interior lot* is any zoning lot
that is neither a corner lot nor a through lot.
A through lot* is any zoning lot
that connects two generally parallel streets and is not a corner lot.
Lot area is the area (in square feet) of a zoning lot.
Lot coverage is that portion of a zoning lot which, when viewed from above, is covered
by a building.
Lot depth is the mean horizontal distance between the front lot line and rear lot
line of a zoning lot.
Lot Line or Zoning Lot Line
A lot line or a zoning lot line is a boundary of a zoning lot.
A front lot line,* also known as
a street line, is a lot line separating a zoning lot from the street.
A rear lot line* is any lot line
that is generally parallel to a street line bounding the zoning lot and does not
intersect a street line.
A side lot line* is any lot line
that is neither a front lot line nor a rear lot line.
Lot width is the mean horizontal distance between the side lot lines of a zoning
Lower Density Growth Management Area
A Lower Density Growth Management Area is an area designated in the Zoning Resolution
where new developments must provide more off-street parking, larger yards and more
open space than would otherwise be required in the applicable zoning districts.
The areas designated are generally distant from mass transit and characterized by
rapid growth and high auto ownership.
The Manhattan Core extends from the southern tip of Manhattan at Battery Park to
West 110th Street on the West Side and East 96th Street on the East Side. It is
the area covered by Manhattan Community Districts 1 through 8.
A manufacturing district, designated by the letter M (M1-1, M2-2, for example),
is a zoning district in which manufacturing and most commercial uses are permitted.
New residential development is not allowed.
A manufacturing use is any use listed in Use Group 17 or 18.
A mixed building is a building in a commercial district used partly for residential
use and partly for community facility or commercial use. A building that contains
any combination of uses is often referred to as a mixed-use building. When a building
contains more than one use, the maximum FAR permitted on the zoning lot is the highest
FAR allowed for any of the uses, provided that the FAR for each use does not exceed
the maximum FAR permitted for that use. In a C1-8A district, for example, where
the maximum commercial FAR is 2.0 and the maximum residential FAR is 7.52, the total
permitted FAR for a mixed residential/commercial building would be 7.52, of which
no more than 2.0 FAR may be applied to the commercial space.
Mixed Use District*
A mixed use district is a special zoning district in which new residential and non-residential
(commercial, community facility and light industrial) uses are permitted as-of-right.
In these districts, designated on zoning maps as MX with a numerical suffix, an
M1 district is paired with an R3 through R9 district.
Non-complying or Non-compliance
A non-complying building is any building that was legal when it was built but which
no longer complies with one or more of the bulk regulations of the applicable zoning
district. The degree of non-compliance cannot be increased.
Non-compliance results when a building does not comply with any one of the applicable
bulk regulations. (See Article V, Chapter 4, of the Zoning Resolution for regulations
governing non-complying buildings.)
A non-conforming use is any use that was legal at its inception but which no longer
conforms to one or more of the use regulations of the applicable zoning district.
The degree of non-conformance cannot be increased.
Non-conformity results when a use does not conform to any one of the applicable
use regulations. (See Article V, Chapters 2 and 3, of the Zoning Resolution for
regulations governing non-conforming uses.)
Open space is the part of a residential zoning lot (which may include courts or
yards) that is open and unobstructed from its lowest level to the sky, except for
specific permitted obstructions, and accessible to and usable by all persons occupying
dwelling units on the zoning lot. Depending upon the district, the amount of required
open space is determined by the open space ratio, minimum yard regulations or by
maximum lot coverage.
Space Ratio (OSR)
The open space ratio (OSR) is the amount of open space (in square feet) required
on a residential zoning lot in non-contextual districts, expressed as a percentage
of the total floor area on the zoning lot. For example, if a building with 20,000
square feet of floor area has an OSR of 20, 4,000 square feet of open space would
be required on the zoning lot (0.20 × 20,000).
An overlay district is a district superimposed upon another district which supersedes,
modifies or supplements the underlying regulations. Limited height districts and
commercial overlay districts are examples of overlay districts.
Parking Requirement Category (PRC)
Parking requirements for commercial uses are grouped into nine parking requirement
categories based on the compatibility of the uses and the amount of traffic generated.
A performance standard is a minimum requirement or maximum allowable limit on noise,
vibration, smoke, odor and other effects of industrial uses listed in Use Groups
17 and 18.
A perimeter wall is the outermost wall of a building in a lower-density district
which encloses floor area and rises from the base plane to a specified maximum height.
A permitted obstruction is a structure or object, such as a balcony, trellis, air
conditioner, gutter or fence, that may be located within required open space or
yards on a zoning lot, as specified in the Zoning Resolution. Certain structures
on a roof, such as elevator bulkheads, water towers or parapets no higher than four
feet, are permitted obstructions and allowed to penetrate a height limit, setback
area or sky exposure plane.
A plaza is an open area adjacent to a building and accessible to the public. It
must generally be at the level of the sidewalk it adjoins and be unobstructed to
the sky except for seating and other permitted obstructions. In certain high-density
zoning districts, a floor area bonus is available for provision of a residential
or urban plaza.
Predominantly Built-up Area
A residential plaza* is an open area
for public use adjacent to a predominantly residential building.
An urban plaza* is an open area for
public use adjacent to a non-residential or predominantly non-residential building.
A predominantly built-up area is a block entirely within R4 or R5 districts (without
a suffix) in which optional regulations may be used to produce infill housing. At
least 50 percent of the area of the block must be occupied by zoning lots developed
with buildings, and the development site may not exceed 1.5 acres. Infill regulations
may not be used to redevelop a lot occupied by a one- or two-family detached or
semi-detached house unless the blockfront is predominantly developed with attached
or multifamily housing.
A private road is a right-of-way that gives vehicular access to a number of dwelling
units that do not front on a public street. Developments on private roads must comply
with special design rules.
Privately-owned Public Space
A privately owned public space is an amenity provided and maintained by a developer
for public use, usually in exchange for additional floor area. Located mainly in
the high-density, central business districts of Manhattan, these spaces are typically
in the form of a plaza or arcade with seating and landscaping and may be located
within or outside a building.
A public park is any publicly owned park, playground, beach, parkway, or roadway
within the jurisdiction and control of the Commissioner of Parks, except for park
strips or malls in a street.
Public Parking Garage
A public parking garage is a building or part of a building that is used on a daily
basis for public parking. A public parking garage may include some accessory off-street
parking spaces for other uses on the same zoning lot.
Public Parking Lot
A public parking lot is a tract of land that is used on a daily basis for public
parking and is not accessory to a use on the same or another zoning lot.
The Quality Housing Program, mandatory in contextual R6 through R10 residence districts
and optional in noncontextual districts, encourages development consistent with
the character of many established neighborhoods. Its bulk regulations set height
limits and allow high lot coverage buildings that are set at or near the street
line. Quality Housing buildings must also have amenities relating to the planting
of trees, landscaping and recreation space.
or Transit Air Space
Railroad or transit air space is space directly over an open railroad or transit
right-of-way or yard in existence on or after September 27, 1962. Development may
be permitted only by special permit.
A residence is a building or part of a building containing dwelling units, including
one-family and two-family houses, multifamily dwellings or apartment hotels.
A single-family residence* is a building
on a zoning lot containing one dwelling unit occupied by one household.
A two-family residence* is a building
on a zoning lot containing two dwelling units occupied by two households. In R3-1,
R3A, R3X, R4-1 and R4A districts, two-family houses, both detached and semi-detached,
must have at least 75% of one dwelling unit directly above or below the other.
A multifamily residence is a building
on a zoning lot containing at least three dwelling units.
In R2A, R3A, R3X, R4A, R4-1 and R5A districts, if the adjacent front yards are deeper
than the minimum required front yard, a new building must provide a front yard at
least as deep as one of the adjacent yards, up to a depth of 20 feet.
R2A, R3A, R3X, R4A, R4-1 and R5A
In R4B, R5B and R5D districts, if the adjacent front yards are deeper than the minimum
required front yard, then the front yard of a new building must be at least as deep
as one adjacent front yard but no deeper than the other, to a maximum depth of 20
In R6B, R7B and R8B districts, the front wall of a new building, on any lot up to
50 feet wide, must be as deep as one adjacent wall and no deeper than the other,
up to a depth of 15 feet. On lots wider than 50 feet, the street wall of a new building
may be no closer to the street line than the street wall of an adjacent building,
up to a depth of 20 feet.
R4B, R5B, R5D, R6B, R7B and R8B
In R6A, R7A and R7X districts, the street wall of a new building may be located
no closer to the street line than the street wall of any building within 150 feet,
up to a depth of 15 feet.
R6A, R7A and R7X
Side Lot Ribbon*
A side lot ribbon is an 8- to 10-foot wide strip that extends along the entire length
of the side lot line of a zoning lot from the street line to an intersecting rear
lot line. In some zoning districts, parking must be located in a side lot ribbon.
Where a side lot ribbon is used as a common driveway for two zoning lots, it may
occupy space on both sides of a side lot line.
A sidewalk cafe is a portion of an eating or drinking place that is located on a
public sidewalk. Sidewalk cafe regulations are administered by the Department of
An enclosed sidewalk cafe* is a sidewalk
cafe that is contained within a structure constructed predominantly of light-weight
An unenclosed sidewalk cafe* contains
readily removable tables, chairs or railings, with no overhead coverage other than
umbrellas or a retractable awning.
A small sidewalk cafe* is an unenclosed
sidewalk cafe containing no more than a single row of tables and chairs adjacent
to the street line.
A sign is any writing—words, pictures or symbols—that is on or attached to a building
or other structure.
An accessory sign* directs attention
to a business, profession, commodity, service or entertainment conducted, sold or
offered upon the same zoning lot.
An advertising sign* directs attention
to a business, profession, commodity, service or entertainment conducted, sold or
offered on a different zoning lot.
A flashing sign* is any illuminated
sign, whether stationary, revolving or rotating, which changes light or color.
An illuminated sign* uses artificial
light or reflected light from an artificial source.
Sky Exposure Plane*
A sky exposure plane is a virtual sloping lane that begins at a specified height
and rises inward over the zoning lot at a ratio of vertical distance to horizontal
distance set forth in district regulations. It is designed to provide light and
air at street level, primarily in medium- and higher-density districts, and must
not be penetrated by the building (except for permitted obstructions).
A tall building or enlargement on a lot that is 45 feet wide or less, in an R7-2,
R7X, R8, R9 or R10 district, is commonly called a sliver building. A new building
is generally restricted to a height equal to the width of the abutting street or
100 feet, whichever is less.
A special permit is a discretionary action by the City Planning Commission (CPC)
or the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) which may modify use, bulk or parking
regulations if certain conditions and findings specified in the Zoning Resolution
are met. Applications for special permits under CPC jurisdiction, which generally
address use or bulk modifications with potential for greater land use impacts than
those reviewed by the BSA, are subject to the ULURP review process.
A split lot is a zoning lot located in two or more zoning districts. In most cases,
the zoning regulations for each district must be applied separately for each portion
of the lot. Special rules that apply to zoning lots which existed prior to 1961,
or prior to any mapping of a new district that splits the lot, can be found in Article
VII, Chapter 7, of the Zoning Resolution.
A story is that part of a building between the surface of one floor and the ceiling
immediately above. A cellar does not count as a story.
A street is any road (other than a private road), highway, parkway, avenue, alley
or other way shown on the City Map, or a way at least 50 feet wide and intended
for public use which connects a way shown on the City Map to another such way or
to a building or structure. A street refers to the entire public right-of-way (including
A narrow street* is a street that
is less than 75 feet wide.
A wide street* is a street that is
75 feet or more in width. Certain bulk regulations applicable to wide streets are
also applicable to developments on intersecting streets within 100 feet of a wide
A street wall is a wall or portion of a wall of a building facing a street.
A tax lot is a parcel of land identified with a unique borough, block and lot number
for property tax purposes. A zoning lot comprises one or more adjacent tax lots
within a block.
A tower is a portion of a building that penetrates a sky exposure plane or other
height limitation, and is allowed only in specified high-density areas of the city.
A tower may be occupied by residential, commercial or community facility uses.
Transfer of Development Rights
The basic tower rules generally permit
the tower portion of a building to cover no more than 40 percent of the area of
the zoning lot, or up to 50 percent on lots smaller than 20,000 square feet. The
tower portion of a building must be set back at least 10 feet from a wide street
and at least 15 feet from a narrow street. These regulations are modified for different
uses and districts.
A tower-on-a-base requires a contextual
base between 60 and 85 feet high that extends continuously along the street line.
The height of the tower is controlled by a minimum lot coverage requirement and
a rule that at least 55 percent of the floor area on the zoning lot be located below
a height of 150 feet. On a wide street in R9 and R10 districts and their C1 or C2
equivalents, a building that includes a residential tower must comply with tower-on-a-base
regulations, in addition to the basic tower rules.
Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP)
The Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) is the public review process, mandated
by the City Charter, for all proposed zoning map amendments, special permits and
other actions such as site selections and acquisitions for city capital projects
and disposition of city property. The procedure sets forth time frames and other
requirements for public participation at the community board, borough board and
borough president levels, and for the public hearings and determinations of the
community boards and City Planning Commission (CPC). Zoning text amendments follow
a similar review process, but without a time limit for CPC review. (For a full explanation
of ULURP, including a diagram of the ULURP time clock, see Land Use Review Procedure
A use is any activity, occupation, business or operation, listed in Use Groups 1
through 18, which is conducted in a building or on a tract of land. Certain uses
are allowed only by special permit of the CPC or BSA.
Uses that have similar functional characteristics and/or nuisance impacts and are
generally compatible with each other are listed in one or more of 18 groups that
are ranked from residential uses (Use Groups 1–2), community facility uses (Use
Groups 3–4), retail and service uses (Use Groups 5–9), regional commercial centers/amusement
uses (Use Groups 10–12), waterfront/recreation uses (Use Groups 13–15), heavy automotive
uses (Use Group 16) to manufacturing uses (Use Groups 17–18). Use group charts can
be found in Chapter 2 of Articles II, III and IV of the Zoning Resolution.
A variance is a discretionary action by the Board of Standards and Appeals which
grants relief from the use and bulk provisions of the Zoning Resolution to the extent
necessary to permit a reasonable or practical use of the land. A variance may be
granted, after a public hearing, when unique conditions on a specific parcel of
land would cause the property owner practical difficulty and undue hardship if it
were developed pursuant to applicable provisions.
Waterfront Access Plan (WAP)
A waterfront access plan (WAP) is a specific plan, set forth in the Zoning Resolution,
that tailors waterfront bulk regulations and public access requirements to the specific
conditions of a particular waterfront. Development of individual waterfront parcels
governed by the plan triggers a requirement to build and maintain public access
areas in accordance with the WAP.
A waterfront area is the geographical area comprising all blocks between the pierhead
line and a line 800 feet landward from the shoreline. Where the line intersects
a block, the entire block is included in the waterfront area.
The bulkhead line is a line shown
on the zoning maps which divides the upland and seaward portions of waterfront zoning
The pierhead line is a line shown
on the zoning maps which defines the outermost seaward boundary of the area regulated
by the Zoning Resolution.
The shoreline* is the mean high water
A waterfront block*,
waterfront public park* or waterfront
zoning lot* is a block, public park or zoning lot in the waterfront
area that is adjacent to or intersected by the shoreline.
Legally required windows are mandated in dwelling units to provide necessary light,
air and ventilation. A window in a building wall that is set on a side lot line
is not a legally required window.
A yard is a required open area along the lot lines of a zoning lot which must be
unobstructed from the lowest level to the sky, except for certain permitted obstructions.
Yard regulations ensure light and air between structures.
Zero Lot Line Building*
A front yard* extends along the full
length of a front lot line. In the case of a corner lot, any yard extending along
the full length of a street line is considered a front yard. (see also
Setback, Ground Level)
A rear yard* extends for the full
width of a rear lot line. In all residential districts, except R2X districts, the
minimum depth of a rear yard is 30 feet. In commercial, manufacturing and R2X districts,
the minimum depth of a rear yard is 20 feet. A rear yard is not required within
100 feet of a corner lot.
In commercial and manufacturing districts, and for some community facility buildings
in residence districts, the rear yard may be occupied entirely by a single-story
building up to a height of 23 feet.
A rear yard equivalent* is an open
area which may be required on a through lot as an alternative to a required rear
A side yard* extends along a side
lot line from the required front yard (or from the front lot line, if no front yard
is required) to the required rear yard (or to the rear lot line, if no rear yard
is required). In the case of a corner lot, any yard that is not a front yard is
considered a side yard.
A zoning district is a mapped residential, commercial or manufacturing district
with similar use, bulk and density regulations.
* (see Lot
Zoning Lot Merger
The 126 New York City zoning maps indicate the location and boundaries of zoning
districts and are part of the Zoning Resolution. Each map covers a land area of
approximately 8,000 feet (north/south) by 12,500 feet (east/west). Mapping amendments
are subject to the ULURP review process.