Zoning shapes the city. Zoning determines the size and use of buildings, where they are located and, in large measure, the densities of the city’s diverse neighborhoods. Along with the city's power to budget, tax, and condemn property, zoning is a key tool for carrying out planning policy. New York City has been a pioneer in the field of zoning policy since it enacted the nation's first comprehensive Zoning Resolution in 1916.

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Zoning Glossary

This glossary provides brief explanations of planning and zoning terminology. Words and phrases followed by an asterisk (*) are defined terms in the Zoning Resolution of the City of New York, primarily in Section 12-10. Consult the Zoning Resolution for the official and legally binding definitions of these words and phrases.

Accessory Use*
An accessory use is a use that is clearly subordinate to and customarily found in connection with the principal use. An accessory use must be conducted on the same zoning lot as the principal use to which it is related, unless modified by the district regulations. (Off-site accessory parking facilities, for example, are permitted in certain zoning districts.)

Air Rights (see Development Rights)

An arcade is a continuous covered space that opens onto a street or a plaza. It is unobstructed to a height of not less than 12 feet, and must be accessible to the public at all times.

A through block arcade* is a continuous area or passageway within a building connecting one street with another street, or a plaza or arcade adjacent to the street.
As-of-right Development
An as-of-right development complies with all applicable zoning regulations and does not require any discretionary action by the City Planning Commission or Board of Standards and Appeals.

Attached Building* (see Building)

Attic Allowance
An attic allowance is an increase of up to 20 percent in the maximum base floor area ratio (FAR) for the inclusion of space beneath a pitched roof with structural headroom between five and eight feet. The allowance is available in R2X districts and all R3 and R4 (except R4B) districts.

In Lower Density Growth Management Areas, the pitch of the roof must be steeper and there is no minimal headroom requirement.
Attic Allowance


An authorization is a discretionary action taken by the City Planning Commission, often after an informal referral to the affected community board(s), which modifies specified zoning requirements if certain findings have been met.

Base Height
The base height of a building is the maximum permitted height of the front wall of a building before any required setback. A building is required to meet a minimum base height only when the height of the building will exceed the maximum base height.

Base Plane*
The base plane is a horizontal plane from which the height of a building is measured in most low-density and contextual districts and property subject to waterfront zoning. On sites that are flat, the base plane is at curb level; on sites that slope upwards or downwards, the base plane is adjusted to more accurately reflect the level at which the building meets the ground.

A basement is a building story that has less than one-half of its floor-to-ceiling height below curb level or the base plane. By contrast, a cellar has more than one-half of its floor-to-ceiling height below curb level or the base plane.

A block is a tract of land bounded on all sides by streets or by a combination of streets, public parks, railroad rights-of-way, pierhead lines or airport boundaries.

A blockfront is a portion of a block consisting of the zoning lots facing a single street.

Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA)
The BSA, composed of five commissioners appointed by the Mayor, is empowered to hear and decide requests for variances from property owners whose applications to construct or alter buildings have been denied by the Department of Buildings or another enforcement agency as contrary to the Zoning Resolution or other building ordinances. The board also decides on certain special permits to modify zoning regulations for specific sites or projects.

A bonus is an incentive to a developer, usually in the form of additional floor area, in exchange for the provision of an amenity or below-market-rate housing.

A building is a structure that has one or more floors and a roof, is permanently affixed to the land and is bounded by either open areas or the lot lines of a zoning lot.

An attached building* abuts two side lot lines and is one of a row of buildings on adjoining zoning lots. The end buildings of a row of attached buildings are considered semi-detached buildings if they each have a side yard.
Attached Building
A detached building* is a freestanding building that does not abut any other building on an adjoining zoning lot and where all sides of the building are surrounded by yards or open areas within the zoning lot.
Detached building
A semi-detached building* is a building that abuts or shares one side lot wall with another building on an adjoining zoning lot and where the remaining sides of the building are surrounded by open areas or street lines.
Zero Lot Line Building
A zero lot line building* is a building that abuts one side lot line of a zoning lot and does not abut any other building on an adjoining zoning lot.
Zero Lot Line Building
Building Envelope
A building envelope is the maximum three-dimensional space on a zoning lot within which a structure can be built, as permitted by applicable height, setback and yard controls.
Building Envelope

Building Height
The height of a building is measured from the curb level or base plane to the roof of the building (except for permitted obstructions).

Building Segment*
A building segment is a portion of a building with its own entrance. For example, a row of attached townhouses on a single zoning lot is one building, but each townhouse is a building segment.

Bulk regulations are the combination of controls (lot size, floor area ratio, lot coverage, open space, yards, height and setback) that determine the maximum size and placement of a building on a zoning lot.

A bulkhead is a roof-top portion of a building that may include mechanical equipment, water tanks, and roof access from interior stairwells. It is not counted as floor area and is permitted to exceed zoning height and setback requirements, within limits specified in the Zoning Resolution.

Bulkhead Line (see Waterfront Area)

A cellar is a level of a building that has more than one-half of its floor-to-ceiling height below curb level or the base plane. By contrast, a basement has less than one-half of its floor-to-ceiling height below curb level or the base plane.

A certification is a non-discretionary action taken by the City Planning Commission, or its Chair, informing the Department of Buildings that an as-of-right development has complied with specific conditions set forth in accordance with provisions of the Zoning Resolution.

The term also applies to a step in the ULURP process indicating that an application is complete and ready to begin formal public review.

City Environmental Quality Review (CEQR)
Pursuant to state law, the City Environmental Quality Review (CEQR) process identifies and assesses the potential environmental impacts of discretionary actions, except for minor exemptions, that are proposed in New York City by public or private applicants and funded or approved by a city agency. A discretionary action, such as a zoning map amendment, cannot begin public review until a “conditional negative declaration” or “negative declaration” has been issued, stating that no significant environmental impacts have been identified or, if any potential impacts have been identified, a draft environmental impact statement has been completed, evaluating the significance of identified impacts and proposing appropriate mitigation.

A letter “E” on a zoning map indicates a site where environmental requirements must be satisfied before a building permit may be issued for any development, enlargement or change of use.

City Map
The City Map is a collection of maps that show legal streets, grades, parks and other public places. It is the official map of New York City and is the base for the zoning maps in the Zoning Resolution.

City Planning Commission (CPC)
The City Planning Commission, established in 1936, is a 13-member panel that meets regularly to hold public hearings and vote on applications related to the use and improvement of land subject to city regulation. The Mayor appoints the Chair, who is also Director of the Department of City Planning, and six other members; each Borough President appoints one member and one member is appointed by the Public Advocate. The Department of City Planning provides technical support for the work of the Commission.

Commercial Building*
A commercial building is any building occupied only by commercial uses as listed in Use Groups 5 through 16.

Commercial District*
A commercial district, designated by the letter C (C1-2, C3, C4-7, for example), is a zoning district in which commercial uses are allowed and residential uses may also be permitted.

Commercial Overlay
Commercial Overlay
A commercial overlay is a C1 or C2 district usually mapped within residential neighborhoods to serve local retail needs. Commercial overlay districts, designated by the letters C1-1 through C1-5 and C2-1 through C2-5, are shown on the zoning maps as a pattern superimposed on a residential district.

Unless otherwise specified on the zoning maps, the depth of C1 overlay districts, measured from the nearest street, is 200 feet for C1-1 districts, 150 feet for C1-2 and C1-3 districts, and 100 feet for C1-4 and C1-5 districts. For C2 overlay districts, the depth of C2-1, C2-2 and C2-3 districts is 150 feet and 100 feet for C2-4 and C2-5 districts. When mapped on the long dimension of a block, commercial overlays extend to the midpoint of that block.

Commercial Use*
A commercial use is any retail, service or office use listed in Use Groups 5 through 16.

Community Facility Building*
A community facility building is any building occupied only by a community facility use.

Community Facility Use*
A community facility use provides educational, recreational, religious, health or other essential services for the community it serves. Use Groups 3 and 4 are classified as community facility uses.

Contextual Zoning
Contextual zoning districts regulate the height and bulk of new buildings, their setback from the street line, and their width along the street frontage, to produce buildings that are consistent with existing neighborhood character. Medium- and higher-density residential and commercial districts with an A, B, D or X suffix are contextual districts.

A conversion is a change of a building’s use to another use for which it was not originally intended.

A court is any open area, other than a yard or a portion of a yard, which is unobstructed from its lowest level to the sky, and is bounded by building walls, or building walls and one or more lot lines.

Curb Cut
A curb cut is an inclined cut in the edge of a sidewalk to permit vehicular access to a driveway, garage, parking lot or loading dock. In lower- and medium-density residential districts, the maximum width for a curb cut is 10 feet; 15 feet for paired curb cuts. There must be a minimum width of 16 feet between curb cuts to ensure adequate curbside parking.
Curb Cuts

Curb Level*
Curb level is the mean level of the curb adjoining a zoning lot. In general, it is the base from which building height and setback computations are made and building stories counted in medium- and higher-density non-contextual districts and manufacturing districts.

Density refers to the intensity of development within a zoning district. In residence districts, density is generally measured by the maximum number of dwelling units permitted on a zoning lot. The maximum number of units is calculated by dividing the maximum residential floor area permitted on a zoning lot by the applicable factor for each zoning district. (Fractions equal to at least ¾ are considered one unit.) The factors for each district are approximations of average unit size plus allowances for any common areas. Special density regulations apply to mixed buildings that contain both residential and community facility uses.
Density Chart

Detached Building* (see Building)

A development includes the construction of a new building or other structure on a zoning lot, the relocation of an existing building to another lot, or the use of a tract of land for a new use.

Development Rights
Development rights generally refer to the maximum amount of floor area permissible on a zoning lot. The difference between the maximum permitted floor area and actual floor area is referred to as “unused development rights.” Unused development rights are often described as air rights.
A zoning lot merger is the joining of two or more adjacent zoning lots into one new zoning lot. Unused development rights may be shifted from one lot to another, as-of-right, only through a zoning lot merger.
Zoning Lot Merger

A transfer of development rights (TDR) allows for the transfer of unused development rights from one zoning lot to another in special circumstances, usually to promote the preservation of historic buildings, open space or unique cultural resources. For such purposes, a TDR is permitted where the transfer could not be accomplished through a zoning lot merger because certain conditions, such as intervening streets, separate the zoning lots. In the case of a landmark building, for example, a transfer may be made by CPC special permit from the zoning lot containing the designated landmark to an adjacent zoning lot or one that is directly across a street or, if the landmark is on a corner lot, diagonally across an intersection.

Transfer Development Rights
Discretionary Action
A discretionary action requires the review and approval of the City Planning Commission or the Board of Standards and Appeals. Zoning amendments, special permits, authorizations and variances are discretionary actions.

Dwelling Unit*
A dwelling unit (d.u.) consists of one or more rooms that contain lawful cooking and sanitary facilities, inhabited by one or more persons living together and maintaining a common household, in a residential building or residential portion of a building.

An enlargement is a built addition to an existing building that increases the floor area of the building.

An extension is an expansion of the existing floor area occupied by an existing use.

Floor Area*
The floor area of a building is the sum of the gross area of each floor of the building, excluding mechanical space, cellar space, floor space in open balconies, elevators or stair bulkheads and, in most zoning districts, floor space used for accessory parking that is located less than 23 feet above curb level.

Floor Area Ratio (FAR)*
The floor area ratio (FAR) is the principal bulk regulation controlling the size of buildings. FAR is the ratio of total building floor area to the area of its zoning lot. Each zoning district has an FAR control which, when multiplied
by the lot area of the zoning lot, produces the maximum amount of floor area allowable in a building on the zoning lot. For example, on a 10,000 square-foot zoning lot in a district with a maximum FAR of 1.0, the floor area of a building cannot exceed 10,000 square feet.
FAR covering 100% of lot
Far covering 50% of lot FAR covering 25% of the lot

Front Yard* (see Yard)

Group Parking Facility*
A group parking facility is a building or lot used for parking more than one vehicle.

Height Factor*
The height factor of a building is equal to the total floor area of the building divided by its lot coverage (in square feet). The height factor is equal to the number of stories in a building without setbacks.

Height Factor Building
A height factor building is a residential development whose bulk is determined by a range of height factors, floor area ratios and open space ratios, and is set within a sky exposure plane. Height factor regulations promote development of tall buildings surrounded by open space.

Home Occupation*
A home occupation is a business operated by the occupant(s) of a home, which is accessory to the residential use. It is generally restricted to no more than 25 percent of the residential floor area (with a cap of 500 square feet). Specific occupations that may generate excessive noise, odors or pedestrian traffic are not permitted.

Inclusionary Housing Program
The Inclusionary Housing Program permits an increase in the floor area of residential developments in exchange for the provision of below-market-rate housing (known as affordable housing) for low-, moderate- and middle-income households. The program is available in R10 and R10-equivalent commercial districts and other designated medium- and high-density districts, such as portions of Greenpoint-Williamsburg in Brooklyn. More information...

Infill Zoning
Infill zoning permits multifamily housing on blocks entirely within R4 or R5 districts in predominantly built-up areas. Infill housing has higher floor area ratios and lower parking requirements than would otherwise be applicable in the zoning district.

Joint Living-Work Quarters for Artists*
Joint living-work quarters for artists are spaces in nonresidential buildings used for living quarters and studio workshops by artists and their households.

Large Scale Development
A large-scale development is a development generally involving several zoning lots planned as a unit. Special regulations allow for flexibility, particularly in the distribution of floor area without regard to lot lines, in order to achieve a superior site plan.
A general large-scale development* is a development or enlargement for any uses permitted by the underlying district regulations in commercial districts (except C1, C2, C3 and C4-1 districts) and in all manufacturing districts. The development must be on a tract of land that is at least 1.5 acres and may include existing buildings.

A large-scale residential development* is a development predominantly for residential uses in residence districts and in C1, C2, C3 and C4-1 districts. The development must be on a tract of land that is either at least three acres with a minimum of 500 dwelling units or at least 1.5 acres with a minimum of three principal residential buildings. Existing buildings may not form any part of a large-scale residential development.

A large-scale community facility development* is a development or enlargement predominantly for community facility uses in residential districts and in C1, C2, C3 and C4-1 districts. The development must be on a tract of land that is at least three acres and may include existing buildings.
Limited Height District*
A limited height district is superimposed on an area designated as an historic district by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. It is mapped in areas of the Upper East Side, Gramercy Park, Brooklyn Heights and Cobble Hill. The maximum building height is 50 feet in a LH-1 district, 60 feet in a LH-1A district, 70 feet in a LH-2 district and 100 feet in a LH-3 district.

A loft is a building or space within a building designed for commercial or manufacturing use, generally constructed prior to 1930. In certain manufacturing districts, lofts may be converted to residential use by CPC special permit.

Lot or Zoning Lot*
A lot or zoning lot is a tract of land comprising a single tax lot or two or more adjacent tax lots within a block. An apartment building on a single zoning lot, for example, may contain separate condominium units, each occupying its own tax lot. Similarly, a building containing a row of townhouses may occupy several separate tax lots within a single zoning lot, or two or more detached homes on one zoning lot may each have its own tax lot.

The zoning lot is the base unit for zoning regulations and may be subdivided into two or more zoning lots, and two or more adjoining zoning lots on the same block may be merged, provided that all resulting zoning lots comply with applicable regulations.
A corner lot* is a zoning lot that adjoins the point of intersection of two or more streets; it is also a zoning lot bounded entirely by streets. Portions of such zoning lots within 100 feet of intersecting street lines are subject to rules for corner lots.

An interior lot* is any zoning lot that is neither a corner lot nor a through lot.

A through lot* is any zoning lot that connects two generally parallel streets and is not a corner lot.
Corner Lot
Lot Area*
Lot area is the area (in square feet) of a zoning lot.

Lot Coverage*
Lot coverage is that portion of a zoning lot which, when viewed from above, is covered by a building.

Lot Depth*
Lot depth is the mean horizontal distance between the front lot line and rear lot line of a zoning lot.

Lot Line or Zoning Lot Line*
A lot line or a zoning lot line is a boundary of a zoning lot.
A front lot line,* also known as a street line, is a lot line separating a zoning lot from the street.

A rear lot line* is any lot line that is generally parallel to a street line bounding the zoning lot and does not intersect a street line.

A side lot line* is any lot line that is neither a front lot line nor a rear lot line.
Lot Width*
Lot width is the mean horizontal distance between the side lot lines of a zoning lot.

Lower Density Growth Management Area*
A Lower Density Growth Management Area is an area designated in the Zoning Resolution where new developments must provide more off-street parking, larger yards and more open space than would otherwise be required in the applicable zoning districts. The areas designated are generally distant from mass transit and characterized by rapid growth and high auto ownership.

Manhattan Core*
The Manhattan Core extends from the southern tip of Manhattan at Battery Park to West 110th Street on the West Side and East 96th Street on the East Side. It is the area covered by Manhattan Community Districts 1 through 8.

Manufacturing District*
A manufacturing district, designated by the letter M (M1-1, M2-2, for example), is a zoning district in which manufacturing and most commercial uses are permitted. New residential development is not allowed.

Manufacturing Use*
A manufacturing use is any use listed in Use Group 17 or 18.

Mixed Building*
A mixed building is a building in a commercial district used partly for residential use and partly for community facility or commercial use. A building that contains any combination of uses is often referred to as a mixed-use building. When a building contains more than one use, the maximum FAR permitted on the zoning lot is the highest FAR allowed for any of the uses, provided that the FAR for each use does not exceed the maximum FAR permitted for that use. In a C1-8A district, for example, where the maximum commercial FAR is 2.0 and the maximum residential FAR is 7.52, the total permitted FAR for a mixed residential/commercial building would be 7.52, of which no more than 2.0 FAR may be applied to the commercial space.

Mixed Use District*
A mixed use district is a special zoning district in which new residential and non-residential (commercial, community facility and light industrial) uses are permitted as-of-right. In these districts, designated on zoning maps as MX with a numerical suffix, an M1 district is paired with an R3 through R9 district.

Narrow Street* (see Street)

Non-complying or Non-compliance
A non-complying building is any building that was legal when it was built but which no longer complies with one or more of the bulk regulations of the applicable zoning district. The degree of non-compliance cannot be increased.

Non-compliance results when a building does not comply with any one of the applicable bulk regulations. (See Article V, Chapter 4, of the Zoning Resolution for regulations governing non-complying buildings.)

Non-conforming or Non-conformity*
A non-conforming use is any use that was legal at its inception but which no longer conforms to one or more of the use regulations of the applicable zoning district. The degree of non-conformance cannot be increased.

Non-conformity results when a use does not conform to any one of the applicable use regulations. (See Article V, Chapters 2 and 3, of the Zoning Resolution for regulations governing non-conforming uses.)

Open Space*
Open space is the part of a residential zoning lot (which may include courts or yards) that is open and unobstructed from its lowest level to the sky, except for specific permitted obstructions, and accessible to and usable by all persons occupying dwelling units on the zoning lot. Depending upon the district, the amount of required open space is determined by the open space ratio, minimum yard regulations or by maximum lot coverage.

Open Space Ratio (OSR)*
The open space ratio (OSR) is the amount of open space (in square feet) required on a residential zoning lot in non-contextual districts, expressed as a percentage of the total floor area on the zoning lot. For example, if a building with 20,000 square feet of floor area has an OSR of 20, 4,000 square feet of open space would be required on the zoning lot (0.20 × 20,000).

Overlay District
An overlay district is a district superimposed upon another district which supersedes, modifies or supplements the underlying regulations. Limited height districts and commercial overlay districts are examples of overlay districts.

Parking Requirement Category (PRC)
Parking requirements for commercial uses are grouped into nine parking requirement categories based on the compatibility of the uses and the amount of traffic generated.
Parking Requirements Category

Performance Standard
A performance standard is a minimum requirement or maximum allowable limit on noise, vibration, smoke, odor and other effects of industrial uses listed in Use Groups 17 and 18.

Perimeter Wall
A perimeter wall is the outermost wall of a building in a lower-density district which encloses floor area and rises from the base plane to a specified maximum height.

Permitted Obstruction
A permitted obstruction is a structure or object, such as a balcony, trellis, air conditioner, gutter or fence, that may be located within required open space or yards on a zoning lot, as specified in the Zoning Resolution. Certain structures on a roof, such as elevator bulkheads, water towers or parapets no higher than four feet, are permitted obstructions and allowed to penetrate a height limit, setback area or sky exposure plane.

Pierhead Line (see Waterfront Area)

A plaza is an open area adjacent to a building and accessible to the public. It must generally be at the level of the sidewalk it adjoins and be unobstructed to the sky except for seating and other permitted obstructions. In certain high-density zoning districts, a floor area bonus is available for provision of a residential or urban plaza.
A residential plaza* is an open area for public use adjacent to a predominantly residential building.

An urban plaza* is an open area for public use adjacent to a non-residential or predominantly non-residential building.
Predominantly Built-up Area*
A predominantly built-up area is a block entirely within R4 or R5 districts (without a suffix) in which optional regulations may be used to produce infill housing. At least 50 percent of the area of the block must be occupied by zoning lots developed with buildings, and the development site may not exceed 1.5 acres. Infill regulations may not be used to redevelop a lot occupied by a one- or two-family detached or semi-detached house unless the blockfront is predominantly developed with attached or multifamily housing.

Private Road*
A private road is a right-of-way that gives vehicular access to a number of dwelling units that do not front on a public street. Developments on private roads must comply with special design rules.

Privately-owned Public Space
A privately owned public space is an amenity provided and maintained by a developer for public use, usually in exchange for additional floor area. Located mainly in the high-density, central business districts of Manhattan, these spaces are typically in the form of a plaza or arcade with seating and landscaping and may be located within or outside a building.

Public Park*
A public park is any publicly owned park, playground, beach, parkway, or roadway within the jurisdiction and control of the Commissioner of Parks, except for park strips or malls in a street.

Public Parking Garage*
A public parking garage is a building or part of a building that is used on a daily basis for public parking. A public parking garage may include some accessory off-street parking spaces for other uses on the same zoning lot.

Public Parking Lot*
A public parking lot is a tract of land that is used on a daily basis for public parking and is not accessory to a use on the same or another zoning lot.

Quality Housing Program
The Quality Housing Program, mandatory in contextual R6 through R10 residence districts and optional in noncontextual districts, encourages development consistent with the character of many established neighborhoods. Its bulk regulations set height limits and allow high lot coverage buildings that are set at or near the street line. Quality Housing buildings must also have amenities relating to the planting of trees, landscaping and recreation space.

Railroad or Transit Air Space*
Railroad or transit air space is space directly over an open railroad or transit right-of-way or yard in existence on or after September 27, 1962. Development may be permitted only by special permit.

Rear Yard* (see Yard)

A residence is a building or part of a building containing dwelling units, including one-family and two-family houses, multifamily dwellings or apartment hotels.
A single-family residence* is a building on a zoning lot containing one dwelling unit occupied by one household.

A two-family residence* is a building on a zoning lot containing two dwelling units occupied by two households. In R3-1, R3A, R3X, R4-1 and R4A districts, two-family houses, both detached and semi-detached, must have at least 75% of one dwelling unit directly above or below the other.

A multifamily residence is a building on a zoning lot containing at least three dwelling units.

Residence District*
A residence district, designated by the letter R (R3-2, R5, R10A, for example), is a zoning district in which residences and community facilities are permitted.

Residential District Equivalent
A residential district equivalent is a residential district assigned to a commercial district that permits residential use. For example, any residential development in a C4-4 district must follow the bulk regulations of its residential equivalent, an R7 district.

Residential Use*
A residential use is any use listed in Use Group 1 (single-family detached residences) or Use Group 2 (all other types of residential development).

Restrictive Declaration
A restrictive declaration is a covenant running with the land which binds the present and future owners of the property. As a condition of certain special permits, the City Planning Commission may require an applicant to sign and record a restrictive declaration that places specified conditions on the future use and development of the property. Certain restrictive declarations are indicated by a “D” on zoning maps.

A setback is the portion of a building that is set back above the base height (or street wall or perimeter wall) before the total height of the building is achieved. The position of a building setback in height factor districts is controlled by sky exposure planes and, in contextual districts, by specified distances from street walls.

Setback, Ground Level
To maintain the traditional streetscape in certain residence districts, front yard or street wall location regulations mandate the minimum distance between a building’s front wall and the street line.

In R2A, R3A, R3X, R4A, R4-1 and R5A districts, if the adjacent front yards are deeper than the minimum required front yard, a new building must provide a front yard at least as deep as one of the adjacent yards, up to a depth of 20 feet.
R2A, R3A, R3X, R4A, R4-1 and R5A
Setback ground level r2a

In R4B, R5B and R5D districts, if the adjacent front yards are deeper than the minimum required front yard, then the front yard of a new building must be at least as deep as one adjacent front yard but no deeper than the other, to a maximum depth of 20 feet.

In R6B, R7B and R8B districts, the front wall of a new building, on any lot up to 50 feet wide, must be as deep as one adjacent wall and no deeper than the other, up to a depth of 15 feet. On lots wider than 50 feet, the street wall of a new building may be no closer to the street line than the street wall of an adjacent building, up to a depth of 20 feet.

R4B, R5B, R5D, R6B, R7B and R8B

Setback ground level R4b

In R6A, R7A and R7X districts, the street wall of a new building may be located no closer to the street line than the street wall of any building within 150 feet, up to a depth of 15 feet.

R6A, R7A and R7X

Setback ground level R6A
Side Lot Ribbon*
A side lot ribbon is an 8- to 10-foot wide strip that extends along the entire length of the side lot line of a zoning lot from the street line to an intersecting rear lot line. In some zoning districts, parking must be located in a side lot ribbon. Where a side lot ribbon is used as a common driveway for two zoning lots, it may occupy space on both sides of a side lot line.
Side Lot Ribbon

Sidewalk cafe*
A sidewalk cafe is a portion of an eating or drinking place that is located on a public sidewalk. Sidewalk cafe regulations are administered by the Department of Consumer Affairs.
An enclosed sidewalk cafe* is a sidewalk cafe that is contained within a structure constructed predominantly of light-weight materials.

An unenclosed sidewalk cafe* contains readily removable tables, chairs or railings, with no overhead coverage other than umbrellas or a retractable awning.

A small sidewalk cafe* is an unenclosed sidewalk cafe containing no more than a single row of tables and chairs adjacent to the street line.
Side Yard* (see Yard)

A sign is any writing—words, pictures or symbols—that is on or attached to a building or other structure.
An accessory sign* directs attention to a business, profession, commodity, service or entertainment conducted, sold or offered upon the same zoning lot.

An advertising sign* directs attention to a business, profession, commodity, service or entertainment conducted, sold or offered on a different zoning lot.

A flashing sign* is any illuminated sign, whether stationary, revolving or rotating, which changes light or color.

An illuminated sign* uses artificial light or reflected light from an artificial source.
Sky Exposure Plane*
A sky exposure plane is a virtual sloping lane that begins at a specified height and rises inward over the zoning lot at a ratio of vertical distance to horizontal distance set forth in district regulations. It is designed to provide light and air at street level, primarily in medium- and higher-density districts, and must not be penetrated by the building (except for permitted obstructions).
Sky Exposure Plane

Sliver Building
A tall building or enlargement on a lot that is 45 feet wide or less, in an R7-2, R7X, R8, R9 or R10 district, is commonly called a sliver building. A new building is generally restricted to a height equal to the width of the abutting street or 100 feet, whichever is less.

Special Permit
A special permit is a discretionary action by the City Planning Commission (CPC) or the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) which may modify use, bulk or parking regulations if certain conditions and findings specified in the Zoning Resolution are met. Applications for special permits under CPC jurisdiction, which generally address use or bulk modifications with potential for greater land use impacts than those reviewed by the BSA, are subject to the ULURP review process.

Split Lot
A split lot is a zoning lot located in two or more zoning districts. In most cases, the zoning regulations for each district must be applied separately for each portion of the lot. Special rules that apply to zoning lots which existed prior to 1961, or prior to any mapping of a new district that splits the lot, can be found in Article VII, Chapter 7, of the Zoning Resolution.

A story is that part of a building between the surface of one floor and the ceiling immediately above. A cellar does not count as a story.

A street is any road (other than a private road), highway, parkway, avenue, alley or other way shown on the City Map, or a way at least 50 feet wide and intended for public use which connects a way shown on the City Map to another such way or to a building or structure. A street refers to the entire public right-of-way (including public sidewalks).
A narrow street* is a street that is less than 75 feet wide.

A wide street* is a street that is 75 feet or more in width. Certain bulk regulations applicable to wide streets are also applicable to developments on intersecting streets within 100 feet of a wide street.
Street Line* (see Lot Line)

Street Wall*
A street wall is a wall or portion of a wall of a building facing a street.

Tax Lot
A tax lot is a parcel of land identified with a unique borough, block and lot number for property tax purposes. A zoning lot comprises one or more adjacent tax lots within a block.

A tower is a portion of a building that penetrates a sky exposure plane or other height limitation, and is allowed only in specified high-density areas of the city. A tower may be occupied by residential, commercial or community facility uses.
The basic tower rules generally permit the tower portion of a building to cover no more than 40 percent of the area of the zoning lot, or up to 50 percent on lots smaller than 20,000 square feet. The tower portion of a building must be set back at least 10 feet from a wide street and at least 15 feet from a narrow street. These regulations are modified for different uses and districts.

A tower-on-a-base requires a contextual base between 60 and 85 feet high that extends continuously along the street line. The height of the tower is controlled by a minimum lot coverage requirement and a rule that at least 55 percent of the floor area on the zoning lot be located below a height of 150 feet. On a wide street in R9 and R10 districts and their C1 or C2 equivalents, a building that includes a residential tower must comply with tower-on-a-base regulations, in addition to the basic tower rules.
Transfer of Development Rights (see Development Rights)

Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP)

The Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) is the public review process, mandated by the City Charter, for all proposed zoning map amendments, special permits and other actions such as site selections and acquisitions for city capital projects and disposition of city property. The procedure sets forth time frames and other requirements for public participation at the community board, borough board and borough president levels, and for the public hearings and determinations of the community boards and City Planning Commission (CPC). Zoning text amendments follow a similar review process, but without a time limit for CPC review. (For a full explanation of ULURP, including a diagram of the ULURP time clock, see Land Use Review Procedure)

A use is any activity, occupation, business or operation, listed in Use Groups 1 through 18, which is conducted in a building or on a tract of land. Certain uses are allowed only by special permit of the CPC or BSA.

Use Group
Uses that have similar functional characteristics and/or nuisance impacts and are generally compatible with each other are listed in one or more of 18 groups that are ranked from residential uses (Use Groups 1–2), community facility uses (Use Groups 3–4), retail and service uses (Use Groups 5–9), regional commercial centers/amusement uses (Use Groups 10–12), waterfront/recreation uses (Use Groups 13–15), heavy automotive uses (Use Group 16) to manufacturing uses (Use Groups 17–18). Use group charts can be found in Chapter 2 of Articles II, III and IV of the Zoning Resolution.

A variance is a discretionary action by the Board of Standards and Appeals which grants relief from the use and bulk provisions of the Zoning Resolution to the extent necessary to permit a reasonable or practical use of the land. A variance may be granted, after a public hearing, when unique conditions on a specific parcel of land would cause the property owner practical difficulty and undue hardship if it were developed pursuant to applicable provisions.

Waterfront Access Plan (WAP)
A waterfront access plan (WAP) is a specific plan, set forth in the Zoning Resolution, that tailors waterfront bulk regulations and public access requirements to the specific conditions of a particular waterfront. Development of individual waterfront parcels governed by the plan triggers a requirement to build and maintain public access areas in accordance with the WAP.

Waterfront Area*
A waterfront area is the geographical area comprising all blocks between the pierhead line and a line 800 feet landward from the shoreline. Where the line intersects a block, the entire block is included in the waterfront area.
The bulkhead line is a line shown on the zoning maps which divides the upland and seaward portions of waterfront zoning lots.

The pierhead line is a line shown on the zoning maps which defines the outermost seaward boundary of the area regulated by the Zoning Resolution.

The shoreline* is the mean high water line.

A waterfront block*, waterfront public park* or waterfront zoning lot* is a block, public park or zoning lot in the waterfront area that is adjacent to or intersected by the shoreline.
Waterfront Access Bulkhead Line
Wide Street* (see Street)

Window, Legally Required*
Legally required windows are mandated in dwelling units to provide necessary light, air and ventilation. A window in a building wall that is set on a side lot line is not a legally required window.

A yard is a required open area along the lot lines of a zoning lot which must be unobstructed from the lowest level to the sky, except for certain permitted obstructions. Yard regulations ensure light and air between structures.
A front yard* extends along the full length of a front lot line. In the case of a corner lot, any yard extending along the full length of a street line is considered a front yard. (see also Setback, Ground Level)

A rear yard* extends for the full width of a rear lot line. In all residential districts, except R2X districts, the minimum depth of a rear yard is 30 feet. In commercial, manufacturing and R2X districts, the minimum depth of a rear yard is 20 feet. A rear yard is not required within 100 feet of a corner lot.

In commercial and manufacturing districts, and for some community facility buildings in residence districts, the rear yard may be occupied entirely by a single-story building up to a height of 23 feet.

A rear yard equivalent* is an open area which may be required on a through lot as an alternative to a required rear yard.

A side yard* extends along a side lot line from the required front yard (or from the front lot line, if no front yard is required) to the required rear yard (or to the rear lot line, if no rear yard is required). In the case of a corner lot, any yard that is not a front yard is considered a side yard.
Zero Lot Line Building* (see Building)

Zoning District
A zoning district is a mapped residential, commercial or manufacturing district with similar use, bulk and density regulations.

Zoning Lot* (see Lot)

Zoning Lot Merger (see Development Rights)

Zoning Maps*
The 126 New York City zoning maps indicate the location and boundaries of zoning districts and are part of the Zoning Resolution. Each map covers a land area of approximately 8,000 feet (north/south) by 12,500 feet (east/west). Mapping amendments are subject to the ULURP review process.