Imagine this scenario as a real estate lawyer: a client is looking to buy property within the five boroughs of New York City, and the broker has assured them that the property is located in a zoning district that permits residential use. How can you confirm that this information is accurate? Now suppose the property is occupied by a beautiful historic manufacturing building that your client wants to maintain. Is this a legal non-conforming use that is allowed in the residential zoning district according to the building's Certificate of Occupancy? Alternatively, perhaps your client wants to be able to demolish the existing building. Is the building a designated landmark or located within a historic district that would preclude demolition?
What if your client is a real estate developer and is purchasing a piece of property with the expectation of developing a mixed-use project of a certain density. Is such a development permitted? Does your title report or Department of Buildings records contain references to zoning-related documents that may evidence the property was part of a larger zoning lot thereby adversely impacting your client’s development plans?
Depending on the issues raised, you will likely want to call a land use and zoning attorney to confirm your findings, but it's always helpful to be able to review and interpret certain land use and zoning information to determine if you even need to make that call or to inform your discussions on behalf of your client. There is a wealth of zoning and land use resources and documents publicly available online, if you know where to look and how to use them. This program provides the basic land use and zoning due diligence resources and skills essential for a real estate lawyer practicing in New York City.
This course originally appeared as a part of our December 2019 Bridge the Gap Event.
Nora Martins concentrates her practice on New York City zoning and land use, particularly applications for discretionary approvals from the City Planning Commission (such as zoning map amendments, City map changes, zoning text amendments, and special permits) and the Board of Standards and Appeals (including variances and special permits) to maximize development potential and entitlements. Nora also coordinates and reviews the related CEQR applications required in connection with these land use applications.
Nora’s practice ranges from preliminary zoning due diligence to the preparation and management of discretionary land use applications for all types of properties and projects, from small multi-family buildings to complex large-scale mixed-use waterfront developments.
Nora also represents clients before various other New York City agencies and entities, appearing before the Landmarks Preservation Commission, the Department of Buildings, local community boards, and elected officials.
Joshua Rinesmith focuses on real estate development, with a concentration in land use and zoning law and related transactional matters. He advises property owners, developers, architects and engineers on New York City zoning compliance and the development potential of property throughout the city. He regularly appears before a variety of agencies having jurisdiction over development in New York City including the Department of Buildings, Board of Standards and Appeals, Department of City Planning and City Planning Commission, the Department of Housing Development and Preservation, and the Environmental Control Board.
Joshua has extensive experience in zoning lot merger and transfer of development rights transactions, including the drafting of purchase and sale agreements, zoning lot development and easement Agreements, and light and air easement agreements. He also assists clients in securing the required approvals under the City’s Inclusionary Housing Program. Joshua also has experience representing clients in obtaining “as of right” tax incentives for residential and commercial development projects under the City’s 421-a and ICIP/ICAP programs.