Council holds hearing on industrial employment zone


Map showing current Industrial Business Zones. Image courtesy of Office of Industrial and Manufacturing Businesses.

Proposal would add protections for manufacturing by requiring nonindustrial uses to obtain special permits. On September 18, 2006, the City Council’s Subcommittee on Zoning & Franchises held a public hearing on a proposal to create Industrial Employment Districts. Current zoning laws permit nonindustrial buildings, such as commercial or retail uses, in manufacturing zones, which can destabilize an area and cause rent increases.

The proposal, sponsored by Council Member Melinda Katz, would create IEDs within existing industrial zones where there is a consensus to maintain the industrial character. These new zones would allow manufacturing and warehouses as of right, but would require any new superstores, hotels, and municipal buildings to obtain a special permit.

Katz argued that manufacturing jobs pay, on average, $10,000 more per year than jobs in the retail and restaurant sectors, and the industry has a high percentage of minority and immigrant workers. Katz also stressed that the industry provides a vital source of materials and supplies for the city’s other business sectors. IEDs would allow manufacturers to invest in their businesses and create jobs, according to Katz.

Mark Foggin, from the Mayor’s Office of Industrial and Manufacturing Businesses, testified that the City had a program in place to promote industrial businesses. The City has identified 17 Industrial Business Zones where it provides expanded assistance services to industrial firms, offers a one-time relocation tax credit of up to $1,000 per employee to move to the area, and opposes all residential use applications. Foggin argued that these programs offer a more flexible way to protect industrial jobs than the IEDs.

In support of the IEDs, Josh Mason from the Working Family Party testified that flexibility for the City meant instability for the industry. While the Mayor’s program helps promote and protect industrial business, it could be changed without community or business consultation because it is only a policy and not a law. Steve Hindy, President and Founder of Brooklyn Brewery, testified that he, like many employers, would like to expand his business, but high rent and purchase prices in the area surrounding his Williamsburg, Brooklyn factory make industrial uses infeasible. He argued that reserving areas of the city for industrial uses will make it easier for employers to expand their businesses.

The Subcommittee closed the hearing without voting on the proposal.

Public Hearing of City Council’s Zoning & Franchises Subcommittee, Sept. 18, 2006.

CITYLAND Comment: The Mayor’s Office of Industrial and Manufacturing Businesses formed a Boundary Commission in 2005 to determine where to place the Industrial Business Zones. The Boundary Commission holds public hearings on its proposed zones before making its final determination. Further information, including detailed maps of the 17 zones can be found on the Office’s website located at

If the resolution were adopted by two-thirds of the Land Use Committee, the committee would next file a text amendment application, which would be reviewed by the Planning Commission.


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