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ENB - Region 2 Notices 6/5/2013

Revised Negative Declaration

New York County (Manhattan) - The New York City Planning Commission, as lead agency, has determined that the proposed Madison Square Garden (MSG) will not have a significant adverse environmental impact. The Negative Declaration originally issued on December 17, 2012, has been revised in order to take into account modifications to the proposed action being considered by the New York City Planning Commission.

The applicant, MSG Holdings, L.P., is seeking a number of discretionary actions, which include a special permit pursuant to Section 74-41, as amended, to allow an arena in excess of 2,500 seats, a special permit, as amended by a proposed text amendment to modify Section 93-17 (Modifications of Sign Regulations), to modify sign regulations within the Pennsylvania Station Subarea B4 of the Special Hudson Yards District, a text amendment to Sections 37-625 and 74-41 to allow the New York City Planning Commission (NYCPC) to approve, in connection with an arena special permit without certification by the Chairperson of the NYCPC, design changes to existing plazas within Subarea B4 of the Special Hudson Yards District. The proposed action would facilitate the continued use and operation of the Madison Square Garden arena, a proposal by the applicant to install signage that is larger and higher than signage permitted under current zoning and includes third-party advertising and sponsor messaging and certain open space area improvements. The Project Site is currently developed with Madison Square Garden and Pennsylvania Station.

Additionally, the applicant is seeking a certification by the Chairperson of the NYCPC pursuant to Section 37-621 for the elimination of non-bonused plaza area, which is a ministerial action and is not subject to environmental review. The special permit pursuant to Section 74-41 is also not subject to environmental review pursuant to CEQR's grandfathering provisions.

Madison Square Garden is currently undergoing a major, three-year rehabilitation known as the Transformation, consisting of substantial as-of-right interior renovations to upgrade many components of the Arena's interior.

The text amendment to modify Section 93-17 (Modification of Sign Regulations) of the Zoning Resolution would create a special permit by which sign regulations applicable within Subarea B4 of the Special Hudson Yards District may be modified. Subsequently, the applicant seeks the grant of a special permit to Section 93-17, as amended, to modify the sign regulations applicable to the Project Site. The proposed text amendment to Section 93-17 of the Zoning Resolution would create a special permit by which Sections 32-63 (Permitted Advertising Signs), 32-64 (Surface Area and Illumination Provisions), and 32-65 (Permitted Projection or Height of Signs) could be modified within Subarea B4 for a use permitted by a NYCPC special permit pursuant to Section 74-41 of the Zoning Resolution. The proposed text amendment to Section 93-17 would maintain the basic zoning controls contained in the existing Subarea B4 of the Special Hudson Yards District, but would amend the zoning text to create a special permit that would allow greater signage flexibility in terms of size and content.

The Project Site would be the only site that would be affected by the text amendments. The proposed sign regulations would not have any implications for any part of the Special Hudson Yards District except Subarea B4. The proposed signs for the Arena exceed the maximum surface area and height limitations applicable within Subarea B4 of the Special Hudson Yards District and would contain third-party advertising and sponsorship messages, as well as content associated with the Garden. Therefore, a special permit pursuant to Section 93-17, as amended, is needed to modify the application of such sections to allow the proposed signs.

The proposed text amendment and associated special permit to Section 93-17 would facilitate a signage program with the following components:

  1. Proposed Tower Signage (Tower Media) - 20 mm LED display panels with a square footage of up to 3,000 square feet would be installed on each of the escalator Towers A, B, C and D. The panels would have a maximum height of 77 feet 6" above curb level. The digital displays would include content permitted under current zoning as well as advertising signs.
  2. Proposed Eighth Avenue Signage (Eighth Avenue Media Wall) - The existing marquee-like sign on Eighth Avenue would be removed and replaced by a 20 mm LED media wall on the Eighth Avenue façade. The media wall have a height of 18 feet 8 inches and a width of 230 feet, and wrapping around the façade's northern and southern ends, with end panels of 18 feet 8 inches by 26 feet 6 inches. The maximum height of all proposed media wall signage would be 50 feet above curb level.
  3. Proposed Vitrines - Pedestrian-level vitrines would be incorporated into the lower façades along West 31st Street and portions of West 33rd Street on areas that are currently blank walls or doors. Vitrine signage would not be digital. Signage in the proposed vitrines would help to enliven the pedestrian-level facades with images of defining moments in MSG's history and would promote upcoming events.

The text amendment to modify Sections 37-625 and 74-41 would allow the NYCPC to regulate the design of pedestrian-accessible open areas in connection with the grant of a NYCPC special permit pursuant to Section 74-41. Currently, under the existing Section 37-625, design changes to existing plazas require a certification by the Chairperson of NYCPC that such changes bring the plazas into greater accordance with the current standards for public plazas. The proposed text amendment would allow NYCPC to approve design changes to existing plazas without a certification by the Chairperson of NYCPC. The text amendment would facilitate the open space area modifications described below.

The open area improvements would consist of a number of modifications including proposed wayfinding signage, cladding an existing vent structure with bench seating, providing improved lighting and additional benches and cluster seating with LED underlighting. The two wayfinding signs would be located near the Penn Station entrances on Eighth Avenue. The signs would be free-standing pylons, approximately 8 feet tall by 2 feet wide, with identification for the Garden, and would contain text at eye level to direct the reader to the Arena's main entrance on Seventh Avenue. The building's exterior façade recesses and the compression ring at the top of the building would be illuminated. Decorative pavings, plaza identification plaques and other wayfinding signage would be placed by the Penn Station entrance areas at 31st and 33rd Streets.

Absent the proposed action, there would be signage that is compliant with the current zoning regulations. Additionally, absent the proposed action, the open space areas would be improved with new lighting, paving, seating, area wayfinding signage, and non-graphic screening at the loading area in accordance with the current Certification pursuant to Section 37-625. The build year is 2014.

The modifications to the text amendment to Section 93-17 (Modifications of Sign Regulations) and to the special permit under the new Section 93-17, as modified, would not allow advertising, or sponsor messages, would modify the surface area, height, and projection of the proposed signs, and would not allow signs with moving (video) images. The modification to the open area improvements include the elimination of proposed etched Madison Square Garden and team logos at the Eighth Avenue plazas; shifts in location and reduction in height of portions of the proposed loading screen at the midblock of West 33rd Street to increase the visibility of the adjacent existing ADA elevator to Penn Station; minor refinements to the design of proposed pedestrian wayfinding signage to improve identification of Penn Station; and the addition of new pedestrian wayfinding signage in the private driveway.

The project site encompasses Subarea B4 of the Special Hudson Yards District, which is located on the western portion of the block bounded by West 31st Street, West 33rd Street, Seventh and Eighth Avenues, in the Midtown South neighborhood of Manhattan, Community District 5, New York.

Contact: Robert Dobruski, New York City Department of City Planning, 22 Reade Street, Room 4E, New York, NY 10007, Phone: (212) 720-3423, E-mail: r_dobrus@planning.nyc.gov.


New York County (Queens) - The New York City Planning Commission, as lead agency, has determined that the proposed Sidewalk Cafe Listings for LIC and PC (Sunnyside Gardens) Special Districts and LIC District Area C Base Height Text Amendment will not have a significant adverse environmental impact. The Negative Declaration originally issued on December 17, 2012, has been revised in order to take into account a modification to the proposed action by the New York City Council currently being considered by the City Planning Commission.

The applicant, New York City Department of City Planning (NYCDCP), is proposing zoning text amendments to modify Article I, Chapter 4 (Sidewalk Café Regulations) and Article 11, Chapter 7 (Special Long Island City Mixed Use District) to permit unenclosed and unenclosed small sidewalk cafes and to establish minimum base heights on two blocks. The proposed zoning text amendments would allow small sidewalk cafes along 19 streets within the Special Long Island City Mixed Use District (LIC District) and small sidewalk cafes along 1 blocks of Skillman Avenue within the Special Planned Community Preservation District PC (Sunnyside Gardens) and would modify Section 117-532 to establish a minimum base height for two blocks in Area C of the Queens Plaza Subdistrict (QP Subdistrict) of the LIC District. The proposed text amendments do not modify the amount of allowable floor area or range of permitted uses. The proposed text amendments would affect portions of 195 blocks in the LIC District and one block front in the PC District in the Long Island City and Sunnyside neighborhoods of Queens, Community Districts 1 and 2.

The proposed sidewalk cafe amendments would affect all or portions of approximately 195 block fronts within the LIC District and all or portions of one block front within Sunnyside Gardens. The proposed zoning text amendments would allow unenclosed and small sidewalk cafes on five existing and 14 emerging retail corridors within the LIC District and allow small sidewalk cafes on one block front portion of Skillman Avenue within the PC District (Sunnyside Gardens). The sidewalk café amendments would also legalize several existing sidewalk cafes in the LIC District.

The proposed zoning text amendments would affect the following sections:

  • Section 14-44 to list the LIC District and the PC District (Sunnyside Gardens);
  • Section 14-43 (Locations Where Only Small Sidewalk Cafes Are Permitted) to allow small sidewalk cafes in the LIC District, along Jackson Avenue from 44th Drive to the prolongation of Dutch Kills Street, and along Queens Plaza North and Queens Plaza South; and to allow small sidewalk cafes along one block front of Skillman Avenue in Sunnyside Gardens on the north side of Skillman Avenue between 46th and 47th streets.; and
  • Sections 117-03 (District Plan and Maps), 117-05 (Permitted Sidewalk Café Locations), and 117-00 (Appendix A) to specify streets where unenclosed and small sidewalk cafes would be allowed within the LIC District.

The proposed zoning text amendment to Section 117-532 would establish a minimum base height of 40 feet for buildings or portions of buildings facing Davis Street between the Sunnyside Yards and a point 75 feet from Jackson Avenue and 60 feet for the remaining street frontages of the two blocks, thereby ensuring predictable, pedestrian-scaled building bases for new buildings on these two blocks. Buildings with base heights as low as 10 to 15 feet, depending on the ground floor use, could be developed on two blocks within Area C of the QP Subdistrict. The proposed zoning text amendment is also proposed for Section 117-56 to allow projects associated with ULURP applications filed prior to the date of this amendment to proceed under the current provisions. An application for a special permit to increase the allowable floor area ratio (FAR) from 5.0 to 8.0 is expected to be filed for a proposed development on Block 86/72, which is currently developed with a loft building complex known as 5Pointz. The proposed text amendment to Section 117-56 would allow the special permit project to proceed under the current height and setback provisions.

The proposed text amendments are intended to enliven streets where the proposed text amendment would allow small sidewalk cafes and support the growing residential, employee, student, and tourist populations along them and encourage buildings to relate harmoniously to surrounding development through appropriate minimum base heights and establish a strong pedestrian scale along the streets on which they front.

These changes are intended to reinforce the character of existing retail corridors and help to enliven emerging retail corridors and ensure predictable and pedestrian scaled building forms. The sidewalk cafes would promote active uses along established and emerging retail corridors and the minimum base height modification would promote a consistent and predictable streetscape. The text amendment would not increase the allowable FAR or change the location or type of development allowed. The proposed action is intended to produce better urban design and predictability along the existing and emerging retail corridors. The proposed text amendments are not intended to induce new development.

Absent the proposed action, the existing LIC/M1-5/R7-3 zoning would remain in effect and the existing sidewalk cafes would be removed. The analysis year is 2022.

The modification of the proposed action by the City Council would affect ZR Section 14-43 and would remove from those locations where unenclosed sidewalk cafes would be permitted on a portion of the south side of Skillman Avenue between 46th and 47th Streets. This modification would not alter the conclusions of the Environmental Assessment Statement, dated December 14, 2012

The proposed text amendments would affect portions of 195 blocks in the LIC District and PC District in the Long Island City and Sunnyside neighborhoods of Queens, Community Districts 1 and 2, New York.

Contact: Robert Dobruski, New York City Department of City Planning, 22 Reade Street, Room 4E, New York, NY 10007, Phone: (212) 720-3423, E-mail: r_dobrus@planning.nyc.gov.


Notice of Acceptance of Draft EIS and Public Hearing

New York County (Manhattan) - The New York City Planning Commission, as lead agency, has accepted a Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the proposed East Fordham Road Rezoning.

A public hearing on the Draft EIS will be held at a date to be announced, in conjunction with the New York City Planning Commission's citywide public hearing pursuant to Uniform Land Use Review Procedure. Written comments on the Draft EIS are requested and will be received and considered until the 10th calendar day following the close of the public hearing. Hard copies of the Draft EIS are available for public inspection from: Celeste Evans, New York City Department of City Planning, Environmental Assessment and Review Division, 22 Reade Street, Room 4E, New York, NY 10007, Phone: (212) 720-3321 or online at the following publicly accessible website: http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/env_review/eis.shtml.

The action involves a proposal by the applicant, The New York City Department of City Planning (NYC DCP), is seeking zoning map and text amendments, (Proposed Action) to facilitate commercial, residential and community facility development, preserve existing neighborhood character, reinforce the existing commercial character and promote an active, vibrant streetscape on twelve partial blocks in the Belmont neighborhood of Bronx, Community District 6. The area affected by the Proposed Action is bounded by East 191st street to the north, East 187th street to the south, Southern Boulevard to the east and Bathgate Avenue to the west. The Proposed Action would rezone all or portions of Blocks 3059, 3066, 3067, 3077, 3078, 3091, 3115 and 3273.

The proposal includes mapping a medium density commercial district along East Fordham Road between Bathgate Avenue and Southern Boulevard to allow mid-density residential, commercial and community facility development where current zoning permits limited commercial (mainly auto-related) and community facility uses and no residential development. Zoning map amendments are proposed along East Fordham Road between Bathgate Avenue and Southern Boulevard to permit medium density residential, commercial and community facility development within a contextual envelope where current zoning permits low-scale auto-related and commercial uses. Rezoning proposed for four partial blocks is intended to preserve existing neighborhood character and ensure predictability for future development on narrow streets. Rezoning for one partial block is intended to preserve the existing residential character of the area, and commercial overlays are proposed to reinforce the existing commercial character and create retail continuity. A zoning text amendment is also proposed to establish the Inclusionary Housing program in the proposed C4-5D districts within the proposed rezoning area.

The actions proposed by NYC DCP for the East Fordham Road rezoning are as follows:

  • Zoning map amendment to change portions of 12 blocks along East Fordham Road from Bathgate Avenue to Southern Boulevard from C8-1, R6/C2-4 and R6/C2-3-to C4-5D
  • Zoning map amendment to change a partial block on East 189th Street between Cambreleng Avenue and Crotona Avenue from C8-1 to R6
  • Zoning map amendment to change 4 partial blocks from R6 to R6B along East 191st Street between Bathgate Avenue and Belmont Avenue Zoning map amendment to map new C2-4 commercial overlays along Arthur Avenue between East 187th Street to East Fordham Road
  • Zoning text amendment to establish the Inclusionary Housing program in the C4-5D district within the proposed rezoning area in Community District 6, the Bronx.

The East Fordham Road Rezoning seeks to create a new gateway for the Bronx by stimulating growth, protecting neighborhood character and reinforcing the existing commercial character. The proposed actions would create new opportunities for growth and investment while reinforcing the established commercial character and preserving the existing built context in targeted locations.

A reasonable worst-case development scenario (RWCDS) for development associated with the Proposed Action has been identified. For environmental assessment purposes, projected developments, considered likely to occur in the foreseeable future, i.e., an approximate ten-year period following the adoption of the Proposed Action, are expected to occur on 9 sites, and potential developments, which are considered possible but less likely, have been identified for 7 additional sites. The Proposed Action would allow for the development of new uses and higher densities at the projected and potential development sites. As the Proposed Action would rezone an area encompassing approximately 12 blocks, and an approximate ten-year period is typically believed to be the length of time over which a projection can be made on changes due to the rezoning, the analyses in this DEIS consider an analysis year of 2023.

As concluded in the Revised EAS dated May 17, 2013, the Proposed Action includes the mapping of (E) designations (E-304) for hazardous materials, noise and air quality on all 16 of the projected and potential development sites. The (E) designation is a mechanism that ensures no significant adverse impacts would result from a proposed action because of steps that would be undertaken prior to the development of a rezoned site. The (E) designation would ensure that these identified sites would not be developed unless necessary remedial measures are implemented.

A Revised Environmental Assessment Statement (EAS), which superseded the EAS issued on March 22, 2013, was issued on May 17, 2013, and incorporated additional analyses conducted in the areas of Open Space, Shadows, Air Quality, Noise, Public Health and Neighborhood Character. The Revised EAS concluded that there would be no potential for significant, adverse impacts in these areas. In summary, the Revised EAS concluded that there would be no significant adverse impacts in the following analysis areas and conditions: Land Use, Zoning, and Public Policy, Socioeconomic Conditions, Community Facilities and Services, Open Space, Shadows, Historic and Cultural Resources, Urban Design and Visual Resources, Natural Resources, Hazardous Materials, Water and Sewer Infrastructure, Solid Waste and Sanitation Services, Energy, Air Quality, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Noise, Public Health, Neighborhood Character, and Construction Impacts.

This DEIS has been prepared in conformance with applicable laws and regulations, including Executive Order No. 91, New York City Environmental Quality Review (CEQR) regulations, and follows the guidance of the CEQR Technical Manual. This EIS contains analyses of topics for which the screening methodologies contained in the CEQR Technical Manual indicated that the potential for significant adverse environmental impacts exists, thus warranting additional detailed studies. A targeted Draft EIS was prepared on Transportation, because all other impact categories were screened out from further analysis in the Revised EAS dated May 17, 2013. The analysis identified significant adverse impacts on traffic, transit and pedestrian operating conditions. In addition, chapters evaluating Alternatives and Mitigation, and chapters evaluating Growth-Inducing Aspects of the Proposed Action, and Irreversible and Irretrievable Commitment of Resources are included.

The DEIS will accompany the ULURP application through the public hearings at the Community Board and New York City Planning Commission (NYCPC). A public hearing will be held on the DEIS in conjunction with the NYCPC hearing on the ULURP applications to afford all interested parties the opportunity to submit oral and written comments. The record will remain open for ten days after the public hearing to allow additional written comments on the Draft EIS. At the close of the public review period, a Final EIS will be prepared that will incorporate all substantive comments made on the Draft EIS, along with any revisions to the technical analysis necessary to respond to those comments. The Final EIS will then be used by the decision makers to evaluate CEQR findings, which address project impacts and proposed mitigation measures, before deciding whether to approve the requested discretionary actions.

For the proposed East Fordham Road Rezoning, the DEIS identifies potential significant adverse impacts related to traffic, transit and pedestrians. Overall, the 2023 completion of the proposed action would result in approximately 222, 369, and 318 incremental vehicle trips during the weekday AM, midday, and PM peak hours, respectively. Additionally, the proposed action would result in a capacity shortfall on the Bx12 SBS service in the AM and PM peak periods and impact one crosswalk. Implementation of traffic engineering improvements, such as shifting of green signal timing to the impacted approach phases and lane restriping would provide mitigation for all of the anticipated traffic and pedestrian impacts, and increase in service frequency would provide mitigation for the anticipated transit impact.

The rezoning area is generally bounded by East 191st street, East 187th street, Southern Boulevard and Bathgate Avenue in Bronx, Community District 6, New York.

Contact: Celeste Evans, New York City Department of City Planning, 22 Reade Street, Room 4E, New York, NY 10007, Phone: (212) 720-3321, E-mail: cevans@planning.nyc.gov.


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