Following ULURP approval of an application, property owners and developers sometimes seek modifications to the approval. The reasons for this can vary and may relate to design, program, construction, or financial considerations that were not anticipated at the time of ULURP review. The nature and extent of the proposed modifications may vary significantly, in some cases amounting to small adjustments and in other cases resulting in larger changes to a project. In each case, the Department of City Planning should be consulted to determine the appropriate process and level of review necessary for the modifications.
Post-ULURP modifications are subject one of three levels of review, depending on their nature and extent:
Substantial Compliance: In some cases, the changes may be so small that they do not require any actual modification to the prior ULURP approvals. For example, slight adjustments to dimensions of an approved site plan that do not relate to a zoning waiver or modification granted during the land use review process may be determined to be in “substantial compliance” with the approvals and require no further action by the City Planning Commission or City Council. In such cases, the Department will review the modified drawings which incorporate these adjustments and, if requested by the applicant, advise the Department of Buildings that the project as shown on the modified drawings remains in substantial compliance with the original approval.
Minor Modification: In other cases, the proposed changes may alter elements of the prior approval, but without increasing the extent of any waiver or modification of the underlying zoning regulations granted under the prior ULURP approvals, and without requiring any new waivers or modifications of zoning regulations. In this situation, the changes are more than slight adjustments but are nevertheless consistent with the underlying zoning. To illustrate: a development is granted additional floor area pursuant to a special permit granted under ULURP; post-ULURP, the owner seeks to modify the street wall height shown on the plans in a way that remains within the maximum permitted street wall height for the zoning district. In these cases, the modifications are referred to as ‘minor’, a term used to indicate that while public review is appropriate, they do not trigger a requirement for a new ULURP review. Minor modifications are typically referred to the local community board for 30 or 45 days for review and comment, and are then reviewed and voted upon by the City Planning Commission. Approval of a minor modification is a discretionary action subject to environmental review.
Major Modification: If a modification would increase the extent of a previously granted waiver of zoning regulations, or require new waivers or other discretionary land use approvals not included within the prior ULURP, it is referred to as a ‘major’ modification, a term used to indicate that initiation of a new ULURP application is required for its review and approval. If, for instance, ULURP approval was previously granted to allow an increase in building height beyond the zoning district maximum by 50 feet, and the applicant later seeks a modification to further increase height and exceed the zoning district maximum by 60 feet, the modification is treated as ‘major’ and requires a new ULURP. Approval of a major modification is a discretionary action subject to environmental review.
The rules for determining the “scope” of a modification are laid out in section 2-06(g)(5)(ii) of the ULURP Rules, available here.
Please contact the appropriate Borough Office to discuss the specifics of your project.