NYC Zoning Handbook:
Manufacturing Districts

Chapter 5

Manufacturing is important to the city's economy. Viable industrial areas must be protected, and appropriately located land zoned for manufacturing must be available for the relocation of some industrial uses and the growth of others.

Manufacturing uses are listed in Use Groups 17 and 18 and are allowed in specified districts according to the characteristics of their operations. In this manner, the most objectionable uses can be located some distance from residential areas. Manufacturing activities are grouped into three districts -- M1, M2 and M3. All of these districts incorporate performance standards which establish limits on the amount and types of industrial nuisances which may be created. In general, the more noxious uses are restricted to M3 districts but they may be permitted in M1 and M2 districts if they comply with the performance standards of those districts.

With some exceptions, retail and commercial uses are permitted in manufacturing districts. However, to insulate the residential community from industrial traffic and other objectionable irritants and hazards, and to shield manufacturing uses from nuisance-generated complaints, residential and community facility uses are excluded from most manufacturing districts. Certain exceptions to this rule have been created. For example, the community facilities in Use Group 4 (hospitals, non-profit institutions without sleeping accommodations, health centers or welfare centers, and houses of worship) are allowed by special permit in M1 districts.

M1 districts with a significant amount of existing residential development may be mapped M1-D. The suffix indicates that limited new residential uses are permitted, by City Planning Commission authorization, on sites that meet specific criteria.

In M1-5A and M1-5B districts, mapped in SoHo/NoHo, artists may, under certain conditions, occupy joint living-work quarters. M1-5M and M1-6M are districts in which conversion of non-residential floors of a building to dwelling units may be permitted if a commitment is made to preserve a specified amount of floor area within the district, either on-site or off-site, for certain categories of manufacturing and commercial uses.

The floor area ratio is the primary instrument for controlling both building size and the level of activity and congestion in manufacturing districts. (In some instances, high parking requirements also act to control building size.) There are four different floor area ratios to regulate the intensity of land use in manufacturing districts throughout the city. The yard regulations are the same for all manufacturing districts. They are designed to provide open space, primarily at the boundaries of residence districts. The height and setback regulations for manufacturing districts are similar to those established for residence and commercial districts. As a further protection to adjacent residential areas, the Zoning Resolution has special regulations that apply to industries located on district boundaries. These regulations provide for adequate enclosure and screening of industrial activities and place limitations on the location of business entrances, display windows and signs.

Zoning Analysis Of A Typical Building In An M1-1 District

A typical building in an M1-1 district on a 20,000 square-foot lot (100 feet by 200 feet) would be a one-story light manufacturing building. It would usually cover approximately 75 percent of the lot and would have on-site open parking at the rear of the lot. Typical uses would include such high performance industries as warehousing, distribution, printing plants or the manufacturing of apparel, textiles or electronic equipment. The M1-1 districts are usually near residential neighborhoods and frequently act as a low bulk buffer at the periphery of older industrial areas with heavier industrial uses and larger buildings.

The maximum floor area ratio in this district is 1.0. However, because many manufacturers desire single-story, spread-out plants to permit horizontal operations, the maximum permitted floor area might not be utilized due to parking and loading berth requirements. For example, one parking space is required for every 1,000 square feet of floor area; in order to provide 15 required parking spaces in an open area on the lot, the building could only cover approximately 75 percent of the lot. This would afford an actual floor area ratio of .75. The building would contain 15,000 square feet of floor area and would have to provide one loading berth at least 33 feet long, 12 feet wide and 14 feet high.

A zoning description of a building in an M1-1 district would be as follows:

Lot area:20,000 square feet
Maximum floor area ratio:1.0
Total floor area permitted:20,000 square feet
Total floor area provided:15,000 square feet
Required rear yard:20 feet
Required side yard:None
Required parking spaces:15
Required loading berths:1


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