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A new digital tool aims to make it easier to draw up NYC land use maps

The city says this tool will level the playing field when it comes to preparing land use maps, which formerly relied on specialized skills and software.

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The Department of City Planning has a new digital mapping tool that’s meant to make it easier to prepare professional land use maps. These are specific maps required when someone in New York City is applying for zoning changes for a particular project or development site. The maps are part of land use applications and if necessary, environmental impact statements. They are an important part of the public review process that happens ahead of zoning changes.

The city agency claims this new free tool will level the playing field, allowing people to more easily prepare these maps, which in the past relied on specialized skills and software.

“This will streamline the public review application process, especially for smaller property owners,” says Marisa Lago, director of the Department of City Planning.

Once you select the site of your project, typically one or more tax lots, the tool adds layers of associated information, plus zoning and land use data to the map. You can then share and collaborate on the project with others. The DCP claims the new maps will likely be more accurate, easier to update, and clearer for the public to understand, all helping make the application process more efficient.

The DCP has digitized other tools including a searchable platform where you can find out about the city’s zoning plans, an online map to research zoning regulations and a population fact finder. It also has various online portals where you can find out the status of an active land use project, get information on the city’s community districts, or find out details on public and private facilities like libraries, parks, schools, and health care providers.

This latest map is another step towards transparency and fairness, but applicants will still need to prepare the rest of their application and conduct any required environmental review. Comprehensive environmental impact statements are extensive and can run to thousands of pages and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.