Sunday, April 20, 2014

Stalking the 1,500 Square Foot Apartment

On Tuesday, the Common Council began the process of changing the Schedule of Bulk and Area Requirements for Residential Districts to amend the requirement that dwelling units in multiple unit buildings in the R-4 District be a minimum of 1,500 square feet. The question remains in the minds of many if this action is actually necessary.

Recently a reader offered Gossips the loan of a brochure for Hudson Terrace, which was published when the garden apartment complex on the west side of Front Street first opened in the early 1970s.

Along with a list of amenities (among them free electricity and all electric heat), the brochure included floor plans for the four types of apartments: one bedroom, two bedroom simplex, two bedroom duplex, three bedroom duplex.

According to Gossips calculations, based on the dimensions provided with the floor plans, a one bedroom apartment was 387.5 square feet.

A two bedroom "simplex," with all the rooms on one floor, was 484 square feet (507.5 if you add in the closets and the foyer).

A two bedroom duplex was 621 square feet, including the foyer on the first floor.

A three bedroom duplex--the biggest apartment available--was 760 square feet.

Hudson adopted its zoning in 1968. Hudson Terrace was built around 1971-1972. How likely is it that, only a couple of years after the zoning had been adopted, a major apartment complex would have been constructed that was so significantly out of compliance with the bulk and area regulations that were part of that zoning? It seems more likely that the bulk and area regulations have to do with just that: bulk and area, the size of the building in relation to the size of the lot on which it sits, not with the interior size of individual apartments. But who's to say?     


  1. So by changing the bulk and area regulations today, our politicians must suppose their predecessors were guilty of disregarding their own laws in 1970.

    A moment while I suspend my disbelief ...

  2. When reading the chart is clearly stated that it is talking about lot size. Why is this even an issue? It specifically says LOT AREA: (indent) per dwelling. It does not say "minimum dwelling size" . What a ridiculous waste of time. It just goes to show, its not what the law says, its what the lawyers say the law says that matters.

    1. Even harder to detect is when lawyers avoid saying what the law does say.

      During the city's state-required environmental impact statement (SEQR, 2009-2011), an analysis of adverse impacts to state-protected flora in the South Bay was circumvented by city attorney Cheryl Roberts when she exploited a general statement about the South Bay created by the Department of State.

      In fact, the DOS has no responsibility to report on rare or threatened plants, but by a clever omission Roberts saw a way to treat the DOS statement as if it was exhaustive for SEQR requirements.

      The simple manner in which she circumvented the city's obligation to report the correct information was next to impossible to explain to anyone, including our representatives.