Pre Application Review Process Rules
Proposed Rules: Closed to Comments
STATEMENT OF BASIS AND PURPOSE
The Department of City Planning (“Department”) is proposing to amend Title 62 of the Rules of the City of New York (“Rules”) pursuant to its authority under Sections 1043 and 191(b)(2) of the New York City Charter (“Charter”). The proposed amendment would add a new Chapter 10 to Title 62 to establish submission and meeting participation requirements prior to the filing of a land use application or application for environmental review. This “Pre-Application Process” may include the following:
• Submission Requirements: A Pre-Application Statement, Reasonable Worst Case Development Scenario Memorandum, draft land use application (or portions thereof), draft City Environmental Quality Review environmental assessment statement short/full form (or portions thereof), and/or other information needed to define, describe, and analyze the land use and environmental considerations related to a proposed project;
• and Meeting Participation Requirements: An Informational Meeting, Interdivisional Meeting, and/or a Reasonable Worst Case Development Scenario Meeting.
Potential applicants or their designated representatives (“Applicants”) must meet these requirements prior to filing land use applications or applications for environmental review with the Department, unless the application is grandfathered or otherwise exempt pursuant to the proposed amendment.
Pursuant to Section 191(b)(2) of the Charter, the Director of the Department, who also serves as Chair of the City Planning Commission (“Commission”), provides staff assistance to the Commission in all matters under its jurisdiction, including the consideration of land use applications and applications for environmental review. The Department provides substantive staff assistance to the Commission through the production of studies examining land use and socioeconomic conditions, land use plans, policy recommendations, waterfront resilience measures, and transportation planning initiatives, among other items. The Department also advises Applicants in the preparation of highly technical land use applications and applications for environmental review that are first filed with the Department before they are considered by the Commission.
The proposed rule will formalize this process by which the Department advises Applicants and assists the Commission. The Pre-Application Process is not designed to assess the merits of a proposed project. Instead, the goal is to gather key basic information about the site and the proposed development, so that the Department can advise Applicants on any required land use actions and on the level of environmental analysis that may be required to facilitate the proposed development projects. Land use applications and applications for environmental review often involve the preparation of highly technical documents, drawings, and analyses in order to demonstrate compliance with zoning, environmental, and other applicable standards and to aid decision-makers in the public review process. These materials must be sufficiently comprehensive, clear, and complete before an application can be certified or referred for public review.
Accordingly, the Pre-Application Process will:
(i) assist Applicants in early identification of significant land use and environmental issues and actions, which may affect or alter their proposals;
(ii) provide relevant information to Department staff so that they may assist Applicants in identifying necessary land use application and application for environmental review materials;
(iii) organize the information and material necessary to prepare complete and accurate land use applications and applications for environmental review for consideration by the Commission; and
(iv) better allocate Department resources to help achieve these ends.
The Pre-Application Process may include:
Informational Meeting: To begin the process, Applicants must contact the Department Borough Office in the borough where the proposed project is to be located in order to set up an Informational Meeting with the Department. Applicants must submit, in advance of the meeting, basic information related to the location of the property and the applicable zoning regulations, in order to inform the discussion at the meeting. The purpose of the meeting is for the Department to adequately understand an Applicant’s proposed project, and to share information with Applicants about zoning, the neighborhood, and City policies affecting the proposed project. The meeting will also give Applicants a clear idea of the land use application, application for environmental review, and public review processes. For large or extremely complicated projects, more than one Informational Meeting may be required.
At or after the Informational Meeting, Applicants proceeding with filing a land use application or application for environmental review must request from the Department a Project ID number, which will be used by the Department to track a proposed project during the Pre-Application Process. If the Department determines upon issuance of the Project ID that the proposed project does not require multiple divisions to review the land use application material and coordination among the divisions to provide feedback to Applicants, and that the project is classified as Type II pursuant to regulations promulgated under the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act (“SEQR”), then the Department will notify the Applicant that the Applicant may either submit a draft land use application or proceed directly to file a land use application. All other Applicants must submit a Pre-Application Statement.
The Pre-Application Statement (PAS): Applicants must submit a PAS to the Department in the manner and to the office so directed on the form. The PAS helps the Department advise Applicants early in the process about the land use actions necessary for the project and the framework for environmental analysis. The PAS also allows the Department to assign appropriate staff at the beginning of the Pre-Application Process and, if necessary, to coordinate review across multiple divisions in the Department. The Department may require Applicants to submit additional or revised materials in order for the Department to make a determination that the PAS is complete.
Interdivisional Meeting (ID Meeting): After the receipt of a completed PAS, the Department may contact Applicants to schedule an ID Meeting in cases where the complexity of the proposed project requires more than one division’s review, and the divisions must coordinate their respective reviews to ensure that consistent and non- conflicting feedback is provided to Applicants. Following the ID Meeting, Applicants will receive a summary of the discussion and the next steps necessary to continue the Pre-Application Process. The purpose of the ID Meeting is to confirm the elements of the proposed project, determine the land use actions necessary to facilitate the proposed project and the type of environmental review that will be required, and define the next steps in the Pre- Application Process. The ID Meeting is an opportunity for Applicants to present their proposals, relevant site details, and other information to the assigned divisions that will be reviewing the project, and for the Department to guide Applicants in the preparation of land use and environmental application materials. For large or extremely complicated projects, more than one ID Meeting may be required.
Reasonable Worst Case Development Scenario (RWCDS) Memorandum Submission: If the proposed project is not classified as Type II and is classified as either Type I or Unlisted under the State Environmental Quality Review/City Environmental Quality Review (“SEQR/CEQR”), Applicants will be required to submit a RWCDS Memorandum. Under SEQR, actions or classes of actions that have been determined not to have a significant impact on the environment or are otherwise precluded from environmental review are classified as Type II. In contrast, Type I actions are those actions or classes of actions that are likely to have significant adverse impacts on the environment and thus more likely to require the preparation of Environmental Impact Statements, and Unlisted actions are those actions not listed as Type I or Type II. All Type I and Unlisted actions require, at minimum, the preparation and submission of an Environmental Assessment Statement (EAS) and, depending on the conclusions of the EAS, the preparation and submission of a more involved Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
A RWCDS is broadly defined as a conservative projection of the development that could occur pursuant to a discretionary action, and provides a framework for the Department to make reasonable conclusions regarding a land use action’s likely effects on the environment consistent with the requirements of SEQR/CEQR and the guidance of the City’s CEQR Technical Manual. A RWCDS Memorandum should clarify and identify the future potential development that may occur as a result of the land use action. Following receipt of the RWCDS Memorandum, the Department may require a RWCDS Meeting to clarify the assumptions underlying the RWCDS Memorandum. The Department may also require Applicants to revise the RWCDS Memorandum. At the conclusion of the RWCDS process, the Department will direct Applicants to submit a draft CEQR Environmental Assessment Statement short/full form (“CEQR short/full form”), and will notify Applicants that they may either submit a draft land use application or proceed directly to file a land use application.
Draft Land Use Application Submission: If a high degree of technical expertise is necessary to produce the land use application materials required for the proposed project, the Department may request that Applicants submit one or more drafts of the land use application for review by the Department prior to the Applicants’ filing of the application. This draft submission review process will help ensure that all required forms, documents, and other exhibits have been submitted and prepared in the manner required by the Department, prior to filing.
Draft CEQR Environmental Assessment Statement Short/Full Form Submission: At the conclusion of the RWCDS submission process, Applicants will be required to submit one or more drafts of the CEQR short/full form for review by the Department prior to the filing of an application for environmental review. The Department will review the draft CEQR short/full form and notify Applicants when the draft is substantially complete in form and substance such that the Applicants may proceed to file an application for environmental review.