Types of Rezoning


Every place in NYC has a zoning perimeter, this ensures that different types of structures are uniformed, don’t impose stress and invites harmony into the landscape of an area.


Each zoning area comes with a set of letters and numbers which denote what type of zone it is in.  For example, R5 the letter R denotes residential and 5 the story height.  However, because zoning can change over years as the community and its needs change you can have a zoning area, like R5, but have a structure that doesn’t fall into that category for example a residential unit that might be 19 stories in a R5 zone.


Most times when a new zoning area is proposed, it will not force the existing structures to change, but will apply to the future ones, once the new zoning laws are entered into law.  There are several ways to change zoning laws, the most common is for a request to be made to City Planning, by an interested party, i.e. land owner, community group, etc…  Some zoning requests can be done with a simple investigation, hearing etc… and others might be longer as in rezoning a large area, such as the one that we are in the process of doing.


For the most part, during the rezoning process the old zoning laws remain in effect until the new laws take place, unless a moratorium is passed.  A moratorium makes sure that development isn’t done during the process of rezoning that the new law doesn’t want.  However, NYC won’t process a moratorium because the effort and time can be equal to the same framework as doing a rezoning, according to City Planning.


Contextual zoning

This is zoning that adheres to height limits and protection to ensure that anything being built will be in line with the existing structures.  It is within “context” of what is currently present. This can be a form of protection that normally a community seeks to ensure the character and visual integrity of the community is preserved. However, you can also do contextual upzoning that could be in favor of the developers, because they can justify adding height to existing smaller structures if there are taller heights in the surrounding area.


Up zoning.  This is the type of rezoning Developers like, because it affords them the opportunity to make money.  There is normally some type of add on either  in height limits, density (number of people) or building parameters. 


For example, the proposed up zoning of Empire Blvd from Commercial to residential, could bring in from 6,000 to 40,000 people depending upon the parameters of the final rezoning law.  This has the potential to make millions of dollars for the developers.


Down Zoning

This is opposite of up zoning and is very much frowned upon by developers, but it is sought by communities to reduce or restrict certain types of building structures; developers might be building or attempting to build.


restricted zone around the parkWhen you have contextual or restricted zoning there is normally a letter after the code, for example, R5 is unrestricted but a R5B has restrictions.  Referring to the zoning map above, you will see this shows that all along the perimeter of Prospect Park, communities have created restricted zoning laws to protect and preserve their neighborhoods. 


However,  the below images shows that parts of Crown Heights, Flatbush and Prospect Lefferts Garden do not have these letters, thus we don’t have height limits and many of our locations are “as of right”, where a Developer can build solely according to the zoning laws and not have to answer to the community, which happen in the case of 626 Flatbush Ave.

non-restricted zones



Please also note that City Planning had received in 2008 a request from our community to rezone to protect ourselves but this request was rejected and ignored while the other surrounding communities were addressed and completed.  When asked about this City Planning stated, at the time they didn’t have the resources and then later on they just forgot us!


Again this is a very simple version of these issues, but still very accurate.