BY JOHN KIRITSIS, ESQ., CPA, MBA, MS, JD, LL.M
In New York City, zoning variances are permissions granted to property owners by the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) to deviate from certain zoning regulations for their property. The BSA is a quasi-judicial agency responsible for reviewing and deciding on applications for zoning variances and special permits. Here’s an overview of how NYC zoning variances and the BSA process work:
Zoning regulations dictate how properties can be used, the size and height of buildings, and other aspects of land use. Zoning variances allow property owners to depart from these regulations when strict application would cause unnecessary hardship. Variances are typically sought when a property owner believes that the property’s unique circumstances warrant a departure from zoning requirements.
Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA):
The BSA is an independent agency that operates separately from the New York City Department of Buildings (DOB). Its primary role is to review and decide upon applications for variances, special permits, and appeals related to zoning and building codes.
Process for Obtaining a Zoning Variance from the BSA:
Application Submission: The property owner submits an application to the BSA, detailing the specific zoning requirements they seek to deviate from and the reasons for the variance request. The application must include supporting documents, plans, and any other required information.
Community Board Review: The application is referred to the local Community Board for review and recommendation. While the Community Board’s recommendation is not binding, it can influence the BSA’s decision.
Public Hearing: The BSA holds a public hearing to allow the applicant, neighbors, and other stakeholders to present their arguments for or against the variance request. This is an opportunity for concerned parties to voice their opinions on the potential impact of the variance.
BSA Decision: After the public hearing, the BSA reviews the application, the Community Board’s recommendation, and public comments. The BSA then makes a decision on whether to grant or deny the zoning variance. The decision is based on factors such as the unique circumstances of the property, the hardship caused by strict adherence to zoning regulations, and the potential impact on the neighborhood.
Types of Zoning Variances:
Use Variance: Allows a property owner to use their property for a purpose not permitted by the zoning regulations in that district.
Area Variance: Permits deviations from dimensional requirements, such as building height, setbacks, or lot coverage.
Bulk Variance: A type of area variance that deals with bulk-related aspects like building size, width, or depth.
Parking Variance: Allows a reduction in the required number of parking spaces for a development.
Sign Variance: Pertains to deviations from sign regulations for businesses.
The BSA has the authority to grant or deny zoning variances based on the merits of each case. The decisions are guided by legal standards, including whether the applicant can demonstrate unnecessary hardship due to unique circumstances of the property, and whether the variance will be in harmony with the general purpose and intent of the zoning resolution.
Citations, References and Potentially Useful Resources for Further Information:
New York State Constitution
Federal Securities Regulation
New York State Martin Act
New York Condominium Act
New York State Security Regulations
New York Business Corporation Law
New York Limited Liability Company Law
New York Uniform Partnership Act
Federal Internal Revenue Code
New York State Tax Laws, Rules & Regulations
New York City Tax Laws, Rules & Regulations
Winston Churchill Owners, Inc. v. Regents Real Estate Associates
Board of Managers of the Park Regis Condominium v. Park Regis Owners Corp.
Park Sutton Condominium v. 447 E. 57th St. LLC
28 E. 10th Street Corp. v. Veras
Riverside Syndicate, Inc. v. Munroe
Essex House Condominium v. Marks
The Parc Vendome Condominium v. Atkinson
54-56 Meserole Street Owners Corp. v. Rossi
The Beekman Regent Condominium v. Bottiglieri
Chelsea 19th LLC v. West 19th Street Realty LLC
New York Department of Finance
New York City Department of Buildings
New York City Bar Association
New York State Bar Association
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