In This Issue

Quick Links

Our Partners

In the News 

Read about Contextual Zoning

How Urban

Planning Works

Learn About

Zoning Bonuses



This issue is all about Zoning. We give you the "cliff notes" and throw in a little history for good measure. We hope you find it useful and enjoyable.
Demystifying Zoning

Zoning regulations can often seem arcane, complex and confusing. To make matters worse, zoning language sometimes reads like "Legalese". Well there is a logical reason for this... Zoning regulations are in fact land use law. I am getting a little ahead of myself. Any attempt to explain the basic principles of zoning must start at the beginning.
As is well documented, the years between 1890 and 1920 were characterized by wave after wave of immigrants coming to America's cities to seek a better life. At the same time, the shift from a rural to an industrial economy also contributed to a significant increase in urban population growth.

By 1910, conditions in Manhattan's lower east side tenement district had grown so crowded and unhealthy; the city fathers had to act. So the driving force behind the country's first zoning ordinance was to improve the quality of life of its citizens by controlling the size, use and location of buildings. The 1916 New York City Zoning Ordinance was based on two guiding principles which are still the foundation of every zoning code in existence today;
  1. Create districts where similar uses would be appropriately located to prevent haphazard development.
  2. Control building size (Bulk) to maximize light, air and public space.

Continue Reading

Building Expansions: The Solution Next Door
In today's complex and competitive health care arena the only constant is change. As health care facilities struggle to keep up with the demands of regulatory and market forces, space continues to be "the final frontier."

Across our client base, we see similar needs: office space, storage, parking and space for new programs and initiatives. In an urban setting where land is at a premium, the problem of enlarging a facility is made more difficult by restrictive zoning.

Through our recent project work, we have found that the solution is often right next door. Most health care facilities are located in low to medium density residential zones where land costs are still relatively affordable. In many cases, facilities already own residential buildings or abutting parcels that are being used somewhat inefficiently for storage and office space. 

Local zoning limits the amount of health care space that can be built on a given according to floor area ratio (FAR). FAR is essentially the total permitted above ground floor area expressed as a multiple of the land area.

We hope this issue clarified some of the mysteries associated with Zoning Regulations. Do you have questions or feedback about the information provided or regarding your property or building that we can answer?  Contact us and we will be happy to provide you with any additional information you may need.  We want to continue to offer content that interests you, our readers. Please drop us a line and let us know what topics you might want to learn more about. As always, We love hearing from you.
John W. Baumgarten, RA, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP
Principal & President