NYC Zoning uses the tern “Wide Street” and “Narrow Street” these are precise terms that affect what zoning regulations are applicable on your property. A Wide Street is a street that is greater than or equal to 75 feet wide. A Narrow Street is a street less than 75 feet wide.
NYC streets all have a term called “legal width”. This is important to identify for zoning purposes as regulations change based on street width. For the New York City Zoning Resolution definition of street you can look up Article 1 Chapter 2 (AKA chapter 12) of the Zoning Resolution.
Essentially a street is indicated on the City Map and is defined by the “Way” or “Public Way.” Street Width includes public sidewalks.
Who Identifies Street Width?
Typically you will see the Street Width indicated on a Land Survey performed by a Licensed Land Surveyor. Do not take a tape measure and try to measure the street. There is an exact legal width for your street.
What Is a Wide Street?
In NYC a Wide street is any street equal to or greater than 75 feet in width.
What Is a Narrow Street?
In NYC a Narrow street is any street less than 75 feet in width.
How Does Street Width Affect NYC Zoning Regulations?
There are many ways that street width can affect zoning. Bellow we will list a few examples.
- Floor Area Ratio Based on Street Width
- Setbacks Vary Based On Street Width
- Sky Exposure Plan Varies Based on Street width
Floor Area Ratio Based on Street Width
In certain zoning districts your Floor Area Ratio may change based on Street Width. The Floor Area Ratio is a factor that determines how many square feet can be developed on a certain property. We have a another post explain how Floor Area Ratio works to determine your buildable area.
R6 street width Zoning FAR Example:
The FAR on a Narrow Street would be 2.2
The FAR within 100 feet of a Wide Street in the Manhattan Core is 2.43
The FAR on a Wide street outside the Manhattan Core would be 3.00 within 100 feet of the wide street.
Setbacks Determined By Street Width
Setback regulations vary based on Street Width. For example the Quality Housing Program sets a 10 foot setback for buildings on a Wide Street and a 15 foot setback for buildings on a Narrow Street.
R8 Zoning Setback Example:
In an R8 Zoning District when developing a building based on The Quality Housing Program the setbacks would differ dependent on the street width.
On a narrow street in R8 you would need a 15 foot setback at a height no lower than 60 and no higher than 80 feet.
On a wide street in R8 you would need a 10 foot setback at a height no lower than 60 and no higher than 85 feet.
Sky Exposure Plane Slope Changes based on Street Width
A sky exposure plan slope can change based on street width. The sky exposure plane is an imaginary sloping plane that determines the exterior envelope of a building.
C1-9 Zoning Setback Example:
In a C1-9 Zoning Lot the sky Exposure plane slope would change based on the street width.
The basic sky exposure plan on a Narrow Street would be 2.7 to 1.
The basic sky exposure plan on a Wide street would be 5.6 to 1.
Street width and NYC Zoning
There are many way street width can affect your zoning requirements. These were just a few examples.
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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 20 years where he has designed renovations and new developments of various building types.