Monday, November 05, 2007

What is an As-of-Right Development?

Q: What is an As-of-Right Development?

A: An AS-OF-RIGHT development is a DEVELOPMENT which complies with all applicable zoning regulations and does not require any discretionary action (special permit or variance) by the City Planning Commission or Board of Standards and Appeals for approval.

The significance is as follows:
A Developer acquires a vacant, 2,000 sq ft ZONING LOT in a Residence District which has a Maximum FLOOR AREA RATIO (FAR) of, say 4.0.

To determine the maximum ZONING FLOOR AREA that may be developed on the site, we multiply the LOT AREA (2,000 sq ft) x Maximum FAR (4.0), and we get 8,000 square feet.

When the Developer's Architect files the CONSTRUCTION DOCUMENTS with the NYC Department of Buildings for Plan Approval, the Architect illustrates the above FAR Calculation in his Zoning Analysis.

The NYC Department of Buildings Plan Examiner reviews the plans and finds that the development complies with the applicable FAR requirements. Assuming that the project complies with all other Code and Zoning regulations, the DOB Plan Examiner may APPROVE the Plans, and the Developer may construct the 8,000 sq ft building as-of-right.

It is not necessary for the Developer to seek the additional approval of the City Planning Commission, or of the Local Community Board, or of any other outside party of interest. His development complies with the applicable Zoning Laws currently in force, and he is entitled to build.

There are stories about over-development and upset neighbors witnessing new construction that they find bothersome or too large. Sometimes, it is true, an unscrupulous Developer or Architect has abused the DOB's PROFESSIONAL CERTIFICATION* program or exploited a COMMUNITY FACILITY FAR (when the building is not a Community Facility) or has pulled some other 'fast one' that the DOB is likely to catch. But often, the Development is as-of-right.

-For Residents concerned about over-development, gain an understanding of the Zoning Regulations for your District and lobby your Lawmakers to change the Zoning Regulations. Targeting the Developer will not be fruitful if the development complies as-of-right, the plans are approved, and a Work Permit has been issued.

-For Developers, it would usually be unwise not to maximize the potential Zoning Floor Area of the development site.

*Banks often do not accept plans approved under Professional Certification for development financing.

Have a Zoning question? E-mail Permitadvisor

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