The Land Use & Development Plan and the Future Land Use Map, together, define the urban form that development in the city will take in the future by assigning future land use designations (in this plan, character areas) to locations throughout the city. The character areas describe allowed uses or mixes of uses, building forms and styles, and scale (from suburban to urban) found in various neighborhoods. Together, these variables — use, form, and scale — define how a block or neighborhood feels and functions.
This plan lays the groundwork for the City to transition from the current zoning code to a form-based approach to land use and development regulations. Form-based zoning codes focus on the impact that development has on the way people experience urban spaces—impacts related to use, building form (or design), overall site design, and scale. Form-based code and this transition are explained in the plan and on this website.
The plan defines the vision that we want zoning regulations to promote and enforce. Zoning regulations are the rules that dictate how private developers can develop, or use, their property. The plan will also guide City investments and decisions related to real estate development and the right-of-way. In order for the plan to have a real impact on the built environment, the City’s zoning regulations must be amended to reflect the goals and priorities set forth in the plan. In fact, New York General Municipal Law requires that a city’s comprehensive plan and zoning ordinance be in agreement. The City’s zoning ordinance was adopted in the 1950s and reorganized in 1967, and while some small changes have been made, the way the City regulates development hasn’t been comprehensively reassessed in over forty years.
The regulation of property use and building design affect many of the impacts on surrounding property, but the land use plan and zoning do not deal with code enforcement or policing issues. Zoning, by itself, cannot eliminate blight—it is one of many tools available to municipalities to protect or improve the character of neighborhoods. In addition to guiding zoning changes, the plan can, and should, guide development-related decisions by City staff and public boards and commissions such as the City Planning Commission, Board of Zoning Appeals, and the Landmark Preservation Board.