Accessory Use Zoning

by | Nov 29, 2019 | NYC Zoning

In Zoning and Building Codes an accessory use is a use that is incidental and normally associated with the primary use of a building or group of buildings on the same zoning lot. An accessory use should not function as a stand alone use but to serve or directly benefit another use.


Accessory Use Zoning

The following is based on the NYC Zoning Resolution definition for Accessory Use.


Accessory Use Definition

Is a use that is incidental and normally found in association with the primary use.


An accessory use can be located in the same building or in a separate building on the same zoning lot in association with it’s related primary use.


An accessory use is normally the same owner as the primary use but can be a separate owner if its function is to serve the primary use and is located on the same zoning lot.

Accessory Use Examples:

Living and Sleeping in Residential Buildings: 

Living spaces for domestic workers are considered accessory use if it is in a residential building. In NYC this would be Use Group 1 and Use Group 2 only.

Living and Sleeping in Nonresidential Buildings:

Caretakers quarters for non residential use groups as long as there is only one space for a caretaker. As per NYC Zoning Resolution this space can only be up to 1,200 square feet. A Restrictive Deceleration must be signed and filed outlining the duties of the caretaker.

Caretaker Living spaces are not allowed in the following NYC Zoning Districts: C6-2M, C6-4M, M1-5M, M1-6M, M1-5A and M1-5B where a building has Residential Use or Joint Live Work Quarters for Artists. Living and sleeping is not allowed in C7, C8 or any Manufacturing Zoning District.

Spaces for Domestic Animals

Keeping domestic animals and having a dedicated space for them is considered an accessory use. Commercial stables or kennels for example are not considered accessory use.

Swimming Pools

Outdoor swimming pools in Use Groups 1 & 2 as long as the pool is only used by the occupants of the building and requires no membership or fees.

Domestic Storage Shed

A storage shed or tool room for domestic use of tools or gardening supplies would be considered accessory space.

Home Occupation

A home occupation in accordance with the NYC Zoning Regulations for operating a home based business. We have another blog post that goes into the details of the NYC Home Occupation Codes.


A newsstand within a building meant solely for the occupants of the building is considered an accessory use. Such newsstand cannot have a sign on the exterior of the building.

Commercial and Manufacturing Storage

Storage spaces necessary for storing items required by the primary use are considered accessory use as long as there is no other restriction within the code to contradict the storage space. An example would be limitations on the square footage of storage space for certain commercial use groups. For example Use Group 6 has multiple retail use square footage restrictions for retail spaces.

Repair Space

Incidental repairs or areas use for repair directly associated with the primary use unless there is a Zoning Code prohibiting such use. One example I would give is an Ice Skating Rink may have an area for sharpening the blades of skates. This would be considered accessory Repair Space.

Equipment and Miscellaneous Accessory Uses

The following are some examples of uses also considered accessory uses:

  • Parking
  • Electrical Vehicle Charging in a parking facility
  • Loading Berths
  • Signs
  • Radio or Television Towers
  • Solar Energy Systems.


Accessory Use Occupancy 

Accessory Use Occupancy is normally listed on a Certificate Of Occupancy and has an associated Use Group Classification. For example in an apartment building Use Group 2 the residential use is Use Group 2A and Accessory Use would be Use Group 2B.


Accessory Use NYC Building Code and Zoning Code

As an architect, I study Building and Zoning Codes closely, but these are complicated and quite involved issues. In this article, we reviewed some of the basic concepts with regards the Accessory Use Definition in the NYC Zoning Code. This post does not assume to cover every possible issue or condition, but provide a general overview of the topic.


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Thank you for reading our blog post on Accessory Use Occupancy.

I hope this was helpful. Please leave questions and comments below. If you would like to speak with an architect you can Contact Fontan Architecture directly.


Jorge Fontan
Jorge Fontan

This post was written by Jorge Fontan AIA a Registered Architect and owner of New York City architecture firm Fontan Architecture. Jorge Fontan has earned 3 degrees in the study of architecture including two degrees from the City University of New York and a Masters Degree in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University. Jorge has a background in construction and has been practicing architecture for 15 years where he has designed renovations and new developments of various building types.