New York City Council Land Use Committee Votes in Favor of ERFA Zoning Proposal

Alan Kersh, ERFA President

Today the New York City Council Land Use Committee voted 17 – 0 (with one abstention) to approve a rezoning measure preserving the context and character of Sutton Place’s quiet residential side streets.

In addition to approving the measure – as approved last week by the New York City Planning Commission – the Council Land Use Committee also removed a special vesting provision that would have benefited a single property owner and undermined the uniform application of the new zoning text.

The rezoning will impose “tower on a base” standards in the area, which means that 45 to 50 percent of a building would need to be built below 150 feet.

Today’s action represents a significant milestone in a years-long effort by the East River Fifties Alliance (ERFA) to correct an aberration of the 1961-era zoning law that allows buildings of unlimited height on residential side streets in the district, roughly the area between 51st and 59th Streets east of First Avenue. Every other residential community in New York City has legal protections in the form of lower-density zoning or contextual regulations that prevent the construction of supertall towers.

EFRA’s zoning text amendment application was co-signed and vigorously supported from the start by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Council members Ben Kallos and Daniel Garodnick, and State Senator Liz Krueger. The ERFA team is also supported by more than 2,600 residents in several hundred buildings throughout Manhattan.

Today’s action is a milestone in our citizen-led initiative to ensure that future development in our neighborhood is consistent with community character, and that our residential streets receive the same protections against out-of-scale development as other residential areas. The proposed modified tower-on-a-base rules will prevent construction of towers with unlimited heights, while still accommodating future housing growth.

I urge the City Council to vote ‘yes’ on the East River Fifties Text Amendment.

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