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October 20, 2021

Stroock Client Alert

By: Ross F. Moskowitz, John B. Egnatios-Beene, Raymond "Rusty" Pomeroy II, Ashley E. Doukas, Eva C. Schneider

 Earlier today, the New York City Planning Commission (“CPC”) held a public meeting on several important land use matters that are currently in the City’s public review process, the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (“ULURP”).1 In this Client Alert, we provide an overview of the Hotel Special Permit, the SoHo/NoHo Rezoning, and the Health and Fitness Citywide Text Amendment (defined below).

The CPC approved the controversial Citywide Hotel Special Permit Text Amendment (the “Hotel Special Permit”), which received only two no-votes. (To learn more about the Hotel Special Permit, click here). Notably, on Monday, October 18, 2021, a lawsuit brought by New Yorkers for Tourism was filed challenging the Hotel Special Permit requirement as “arbitrary” and unconstitutional, and further alleges that “its result will not be to address any legitimate or demonstrable zoning problem, but rather to erect massive barriers to entry to the hotel industry through a standardless process.”

The CPC also approved the much-anticipated City-sponsored application to rezone SoHo/NoHo (the “SoHo/NoHo Rezoning”). (To learn more about the SoHo/NoHo Rezoning, click here). While the vote was unanimous, Commissioner Levin expressed concern that, among other things, the rezoning would encourage too much commercial development, that it does not do enough to encourage affordable housing, and that it undermines “the integrity” of the historic districts.

Finally, and perhaps the least controversial vote of the day, the CPC also approved a text amendment to allow gymnasiums, spas and other health- and fitness-related uses as-of-right (the “Health and Fitness Citywide Text Amendment”). 

All of these applications will now go before the New York City Council; the City Council will review and vote on all of these applications in sub-committee, and if approved, these applications will be voted on by the entire City Council. If approved by the City Council, the Mayor has five days to review and approve or reject the same. 

Notably, if the Hotel Special Permit is adopted, it could potentially change as-of-right development as we know it today – there are very few (if any) major or predominant uses that face such a stringent blanket ban.  As for the SoHo/NoHo Rezoning, if adopted, SoHo/NoHo will be the first transit-rich and amenity-filled neighborhood to be included in the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing Program.

The Stroock Land Use and Environmental Team will be diligently following these text amendments throughout the process and providing testimony and written comments, as necessary, and updating clients on timing, changes in the text, the political climate, and the likelihood of success.

                   

1 ULURP is a statutory five- to seven-month process that requires review and advisory recommendations by the Community Board and Borough President, review and vote by the City Planning Commission, and review and vote by the City Council.