Zoning Variances and the NYC Board of Standards and Appeals

(1392 Ratings)

Produced on: June 27, 2017

Course Format On Demand Audio

Taught by


Course Description

Time 78 minutes
Difficulty Intermediate

The Board of Standards and Appeals (“BSA”) plays a critical, if sometimes unappreciated, role in the regulation of land use, development, and construction in New York City. This course, presented by land use attorney Howard Goldman, will focus on what is arguably the most important task of the BSA—the issuance of zoning variances. Other tasks, including administrative appeals, vesting cases and special permits, are beyond the scope of this 75-minute class.   

The Zoning Resolution regulates use, bulk, and parking on virtually every parcel of privately- and City-owned land within the 300 square miles that comprise New York City. Inevitably, situations will arise in which the general zoning regulations do not work as intended on a specific property due to unique physical conditions. The BSA was established to hear applications for relief in these situations and, where appropriate, grant variances to modify or waive provisions of the Zoning Resolution to alleviate the hardship.            

On May 30, 2017, the City Council enacted nine separate local laws changing the procedures by which the BSA reviews and decides applications for variances and special permits.  This course will review the effects of these laws on practitioners, the public, and the overall role of the BSA in land use.       

Learning Objectives:

  1. Understand the composition and organization of the BSA
  2. Discuss the BSA Rules of Practice and Procedure
  3. Review the BSA “five findings”
  4. Identify the various components of a variance application
  5. Comprehend the BSA’s public review procedures
  6. Provide an overview of BSA decisions and challenges


Howard Goldman

GoldmanHarris LLC

Following his introduction to land use while practicing law in Alaska, Howard Goldman has been a full-time zoning and land use attorney in New York City since 1980. Prior to co-founding Goldman Harris LLC, he was the Deputy Counsel to the New York City Planning Commission, a partner at two large Manhattan law firms, a partner at a medium-sized Manhattan firm, and a solo practitioner. Howard understands land use from public and private, as well as large and small business perspectives, and enjoys working with all parties in achieving his clients’ goals.  

Goldman Harris LLC is a boutique with practice limited to land use in New York City.  Howard’s law partner is his wife, Caroline Harris, who has a similar legal background, including at the Counsel’s Office of the Department of City Planning and experience at major law firms. Goldman Harris strives to combine the high standards of a large firm with the flexibility afforded by a small one. The firm’s work ranges from advising clients with respect to “as-of-right” projects not involving discretionary approvals to applications for zoning changes, special permits, variances, landmarks approvals, and interpretations of the Zoning Resolution. Along with experienced attorneys, the firm includes professionals having expertise in architecture, project management and the Building Code.  


abraham l.

Very enjoyable and informative

Lawrence R.

The presenter devoted attention to he development of an easily understood introduction which proved helpful as the program moved forward.

Manish C. S.

good level of detail

Rochelle L.

Very thorough (for the time allotted) presentation on the BSA...

Lawrence E.

very good

David H.

Informative and well done.

Willa L.

This was a great presentation.

Simon Z.

Excellent, informative course.

Michael B.

very good.,

Steven M.

A good course and yet another of those highly specialized, obscure areas of the law that affect the lives of many people without their knowing it and that demand considerable experience and technical expertise to approach.

Janice T.


nicholas d.

Howard Goldman is the best!

Charles S.

Very well done

Edgar G.


Christine M.

Very informative

Paul N.

Good overview of area, without being too general.

Susan M. B.

Presented a detail-intense topic in an interesting and extremely knowledgeable manner.

Douglas R.

Great program

Mark W.

Very clear and organized presentation. Very helpful.

Mark C.


James S.


Augustin D.

I did not know that variances could expire. Very informative session

Jay W.


Lloyd G.

Excellent presentation

Patricia L.

Good overview and specific info -

george w.

Likeable guy


good program

William S.

Highly recommend this course for all real estate attorneys. Excellent presentation.

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$ 89 Real Estate and Administrative Law In Stock


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