City Council Approves Two Amendments Promoting Health and Fitness

Image credit: New York City Council.

In December 2021, the City Council voted to approve two applications proposed by the City to promote health, fitness and support small businesses. For CityLand’s prior coverage, click here

On December 9th, the City Council voted to approve the Health and Fitness Text amendment. The amendment allows businesses like gyms, martial arts studios, massage therapy businesses, spas and other health related businesses to open as-of-right where zoning permits. Previously, these types of businesses would have needed to seek approval from the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA), which could add tens of thousands of dollars to the upfront costs of starting these businesses. Going through the BSA approval process is also time-consuming. By allowing these businesses to open as-of-right, significant barriers have been removed.

On December 15th, the City Council voted to approve the FRESH text amendment, which expands the Food Retail Expansion to Support Health (FRESH) program. The FRESH program provides a zoning incentive for grocery stores to open and operate in lower-income neighborhoods that tend to be underserved and have less access to fresh produce and meats. The amendment expands the program to eleven additional community districts, including the first one in Staten Island. Previously, the FRESH program operated in portions of Manhattan Community Districts 9 through 12, portions of Bronx Community Districts 1 through 7, portions of Brooklyn Community Districts 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 16 and 17, portions of Queens Community districts 1 and 12 and the Special Downtown Jamaica District. Now, the program will operate in Bronx Community Districts 8 and 9; Brooklyn Community Districts 1, 2, 12 and 13; Queens Community Districts 1, 3, 4 and 14 and Staten Island Community District 1.

Department of City Planning Director Anita Laremont stated, “The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the necessity of health equity in New York City. Whether it’s improving access to high-quality foods, especially in underserved neighborhoods, or making it easier for health-related small businesses to open and thrive in our commercial corridors, the health of New Yorkers should be at the forefront of our work. Thanks to the City Council for approving these two zoning measures and setting us on the path to a healthier, happier city for all.”

By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the CityLaw fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018.)


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