Zoning & Land Use

NYC Board of Standards and Appeals

We frequently represent clients before the City of New York Board of Standards and Appeals (the “BSA”), the City agency charged with addressing specific types of land use issues. Developers and property owners often seek to use property differently than is permitted under the Zoning Resolution. Based on our knowledge, expertise and a detailed examination of the property, we determine the technical type of land use case to file. We then prepare, submit and argue the case before the BSA on our client’s behalf. These are examples of some of the many types of cases that we bring before the BSA.

  • We obtain zoning variances for clients, enabling them to either use their property for a different use or build a larger building than otherwise permitted under the Zoning Resolution.
  • Since variances often expire after a period of time, we obtain extensions of terms of existing variances.
  • We represent clients who are appealing decisions of the Department of Buildings interpreting the Multiple Dwelling Law and Building Code.
  • We represent a broad range of clients, from individual homeowners wishing to expand their properties, to owners of commercial properties seeking a change in the permitted use or bulk of their properties.
  • We obtain special permits for clients seeking to use property in a variety of ways. For example, we represent clients seeking to operate automobile service stations, enlarge existing manufacturing buildings, construct and operate fitness clubs, and enlarge one or two family homes.
  • When clients seek to develop property in the bed of a mapped street or without the required street frontage, we file applications under the General City Law to permit such development.

Click here for examples.

NYC Department of City Planning

We are well-versed in all types of filings with the New York City Department of City Planning (“DCP”). DCP is the agency responsible for creating and updating the City’s zoning districts and zoning regulations. The agency is also the custodian of the City Map, upon which are delineated the City’s mapped streets, parks and public places.
In certain cases, owners may be required to pursue relief from existing regulations to achieve their development objectives. Examples of relief that may be attained include zoning map amendments, changes to the text of the zoning resolution, special permits and authorizations, and City Map changes to eliminate unbuilt mapped streets (paper streets) from the official City map.
We review our clients’ objectives and determine the DCP land use actions needed to facilitate their project. Below are examples of the types of approvals we pursue for our clients and the types of services we provide.

  • For owners wishing to convert or develop uses that do not conform to applicable zoning regulations, we apply for a zoning district change through a zoning map amendment or, in certain cases, a zoning text amendment to accommodate the desired use.
  • We file special permit applications and authorizations with DCP to obtain permission for certain uses or building configurations not allowed as a matter of right. Such applications include those for public parking garages, large retail facilities, large scale residential, community facility or general use developments and the conversion of certain non-residential buildings to residential use, as well as the transfer of development rights from a landmark property. We handle all aspects of file preparation and submission, and we participate at the public review hearings.
  • We obtain administrative certifications, when required by the zoning law. We conduct analyses and submit evidence to DCP supporting the requisite legal findings for these ministerial actions. Examples of such actions include approvals to build homes in natural areas in the Bronx and Staten Island and certifications to develop property along the City’s waterfront.
  • We assist and advise architects in the preparation of their plans and their zoning analyses in conjunction with DCP applications.

Click here for examples.

NYC Department of Buildings

If our clients wish to proceed with a development that we believe is permitted as-of-right under the Zoning Resolution, New York City Building Code and the New York State Multiple Dwelling Law, we work with them to obtain approval from the Department of Buildings and prepare administrative appeals as appropriate. We also regularly appear as special counsel for reconsiderations and applications challenging adverse determinations of the Department of Buildings.

Click here for examples.

NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission

The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission is the City agency responsible for the City’s landmarks and historic districts. If a landowner’s building is designated as an individual landmark or is located in an area designated as an historic district by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, changes to the building require approval by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. In order to designate a site as a landmark or historic district, the Landmarks Preservation Commission determines whether a property has a special, unique character worthy of heightened protection from alteration. Thus, many owners seek to prevent their properties from being designated as landmarks, and individuals and groups of property owners often seek to avoid having the areas in which they own property from being designated as historic districts. In these instances, we work with the Landmarks Preservation Commission to obtain favorable outcomes for clients. Alternatively, landmark status or location in an historic district can sometimes benefit a property owner seeking zoning relief. In these cases, we work jointly with the Landmarks Preservation Commission to enable property owners to obtain land use relief.

Click here for examples.


Zoning Analyses and Opinions

We provide our clients with zoning analyses and zoning opinions prior to developing their properties, often in connection with obtaining financing for their projects.

We offer many real estate services to our clients as well, please click here to learn more.