New Zoning Amendment Limits Medical Buildings in Residential Areas

A zoning amendment that was approved by Community Board 10 in October has been passed by the City Council.

On Tuesday, January 18, the New York City Council approved a zoning amendment that will prevent large medical offices and day care centers from being placed on residential streets in Throggs Neck, Pelham Bay, Waterbury-LaSalle, Country Club, Spencer Estate and City Island. In a plan that was originally not designed for the Bronx, the new zoning amendment will also include the residential areas of Community Board 10 at the request of Councilman Jimmy Vacca.

The NYC Department of City Planning proposed a text amendment in September 2010 that would strictly limit the placement of these large-scale buildings in residential sections, also known as Lower-Density Growth Management Areas. Although Mayor Bloomberg had originally aimed these efforts at residential areas in Staten Island, Councilman Vacca had asked for the regulations for CB 10 neighborhoods, which is also considered a LDGMA.

Vacca believes that these buildings create parking issues for residents and local stores in an area that cannot provide sufficient parking for larger, commercial businesses. He feels that the City Council’s decision was an important victory and he was very satisfied with the end result.

“Lower-density communities have been overrun by large, unattractive doctor’s offices and day care centers that are out of context with surrounding homes,” Vacca said. “This zoning change is our latest effort to preserve the character that makes our community special and that we have fought so hard to protect.”

The CB 10 neighborhoods were established as a LDGMA as part of the Throggs Neck Area Rezoning in 2004. The LDGMA was created to address problems experienced in low-density districts that are not well-served by mass transit, have high car ownership rates and are far from the cty’s central business. In a LDGMA, if new large commercial developments are established, they must provide efficient off-street parking. CB 10 was included in the LDGMA to balance the need for maintaining adequate parking, yards and open space.

After only a short period of time reviewing CB 10’s approval to be included in the new zoning amendment, the DOCP agreed that the residential neighborhoods of CB 10 should be part of the Staten Island proposal. The DOCP based their decision on community studies and concerns from local residents.

“In response to community concerns, the new Lower Density Growth Management Area regulations will also protect the CB 10 neighborhoods,” a spokesperson of the DOCP said. “Neighborhood character will be protected by preventing these large medical offices and redirect their development to commercial areas where they belong.”

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