Unique Bronx neighborhood down-zoned. On December 8, 2005, the City Council rezoned 39 blocks in Olinville, Bronx and, in a separate action, created a new R5A district which can be applied citywide. The Planning Department initiated the rezoning proposal in response to Bronx Community Board 12’s and Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion Jr.’s concerns over the increasing replacement of Olinville’s single-family homes with new, significantly out-of-character, high-density apartments.
When first developed in the early 19th century, Olinville was known for its tapestry mills, which were later replaced with modest single-family homes as Olinville became an early residential suburb of the city. Although the area primarily has one and two-family homes, current zoning allows for high-density apartment buildings.
The proposal down-zoned 962 lots, and seeks to retain low-density development and prevent commercial use on residential side streets in an area bounded by East 219th Street and Gun Hill Road, White Plains Road and Boston Road, Burke and Adee Avenues, and Bronx Boulevard. Under the approved proposal, new residential construction will be limited to lower density development consistent with the existing neighborhood character.
The newly created R5A district, applicable citywide, allows for larger detached one and two-family houses with a 1.1 FAR on smaller, narrower lots than permitted in R5 districts and imposes contextual requirements to maintain conformity in building size, scale and profile.
At the Council’s December 5, 2005 Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises hearing, Planning Department staff explained that the R5A district was specifically crafted for Olinville because no existing zoning district corresponded to Olinville’s type of housing. Carmen Anguiera, District Manager for Bronx Community Board 12, stressed that the community was not opposed to all development, but was increasingly alarmed that the already over-strained schools and sanitation services could not meet rising demand. Following Council Member Larry B. Seabrooke’s urge for support, the Subcommittee approved unanimously. The full Council approved on December 8, 2005.
ULURP Process: The Planning Commission, as lead agency, issued negative declarations on both applications. Bronx Community Board 12 unanimously approved the Olinville rezoning as did Borough President Adolfo Carrion, Jr. The text amendment was not subject to the ULURP process.
The Commission approved the applications on November 16, 2005, stating that the comprehensive rezoning of the area would eliminate the disparity between the existing character of primarily oneto two-family detached homes, and the current zoning, which allows a range of higher density housing types. The Commission stated that the new R5A district could serve to protect other low to mid-density neighborhoods throughout the city.
Council: Olinville Rezoning/R5A Text Amendment (December 8, 2005); CPC: Olinville Rezoning/R5A Text Amendment (C 060084 ZMX – map amendment; N 060083 ZRY – text amendment) (November 16, 2005). CITYADMIN