How to Alter Zoning

An area’s zoning is not set in stone. If the work you want to do on your property does not correspond with the current zoning restrictions, it is possible for the zoning to be altered. It is however, a lengthy process.

Residential zones in part helps upkeep the character and the quality of life of a neighborhood. There are cases when zoning remains the same from decades ago, even though the area and population count has greatly changed since. For example, there may be too many out-of-character buildings cropping up around old victorian-style houses. With population growth, there are services that become necessities, but are not allowed to exist under the current code.

Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP)

The city has 59 community districts, each with a corresponding community board. As well as a meeting with the board, the borough president and city planning commission are also involved in the zoning process process. They advise on the feasibility of the rezoning, and help weigh the pros and cons. They are, however, not the ones making the final decision. When the rezoning request is finally made, it is the City Council that makes the actual judgement.

Before the ULURP process formally begins, members of the community and interested parties negotiate. Try to garner support from as many parties as you can. There will also be hearings where any member of the public can voice their opinion


The city’s Zoning & Land Use Map is available for free online.

This tool provides a breakdown of exactly where the zoning boundaries are for any block in the city, and what can be done in that district. A brief description is provided on what is allowed with that code.

Important Aspects to Consider

Affordable Housing – Will the rezoning displace too many people, or take away opportunity for housing for those in the lowest income brackets?

Economic Development – Will the rezoning stifle development, or help it grow?

Resiliency – How much are you looking forwards to the future. Will the alteration must be something robust and lasting, or will there be much zoning debate because of it?

  1. […] is work you wish to do that does not coincide with the zoning of your building, it is possible to alter the […]


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