Friday, March 28, 2014

Learning from the Experience of Others

The topic of zoning changes came up again at Wednesday night's Legal Committee meeting. The next zoning workshop has been postponed again--this time to the first week in May. It is now expected to take place on Friday, May 2, beginning at 9 a.m.

At Wednesday's Legal Committee meeting, Council president Don Moore wondered out loud if it was worth reading the zoning changes proposed in 2006. Committee chair John Friedman (Third Ward) acknowledged that "zoning is very high-level thinking and requires the ability to visualize" but suggested that reading the proposed document was "process of educating ourselves, and it isn't time wasted." Friedman further encouraged the committee, "I'd like to see us try to do what we can. [It will] help us narrow the scope of what needs to be done."

Visualizing is indeed an important part of zoning, and it is sometimes recommended that, before bulk and area regulations are adopted, a model be created--something computer generated or an actual three-dimensional model--to show what the city would look like if there were a "worst case" build out--if everything permitted by the city's zoning ended up being built, with the minimum front and side setbacks and the maximum height and lot coverage. The idea is that the decision makers use the model to decide if it's really what they want the city to look like.

The idea of a build-out model came to mind this morning, when a reader sent a link to an article in West Side Rag, a hyperlocal news source for the Upper West Side of Manhattan. 

The article reports on a plan to build a fourteen-story apartment building abutting the Cathedral of St. John the Divine on Amsterdam Avenue at 112th Street. As the article points out, the project does not need any special zoning permits, and there will be no intervention by the Landmarks Preservation Commission because, surprisingly, the cathedral is not landmarked.   

Image courtesy DNAinfo via a rendering by Handel Architects found on West Side Rag

1 comment:

  1. In a single image, here's the city's entire high-level plan for all future runoff (never mind increasing the runoff through new zoning schemes!):