CITY HALL — The City Council near-unanimously approved a new zoning measure Thursday that will limit the size of new stores and banks on the Upper West Side — helping to protect struggling mom-and-pop shops in the neighborhood.
The special "Upper West Side Special Enhanced Commercial District," which will change zoning rules to limit new store frontages to 40 feet on both Columbus and Amsterdam avenues, as well as restrict new banks from being larger than 25 feet wide, was sponsored by City Councilwoman Gale Brewer.
"People do not visit and move to the Upper West Side for the block-long stores and banks," said Brewer, who noted that support for the zoning change was strong among both young professionals and long-time West Siders, in a statement.
The approved zoning plan goes into effect immediately, her office added.
Supporters said the plan will help preserve the character and charm of the neighborhood, and keep at bay the encroaching hordes of large chain stores that have been emerging throughout the city. The proposal aims to preserve a diverse array of shops by not allowing any one shop to grow too large.
The New York Bankers Association fought against the measure, finding it discriminantory against the banking industry. Brewer noted that the 29 banks already inside the rezoned area would not be affected, as the measure will only apply to new developments.
The Columbus Avenue Business Improvement District also criticized of the measure because it felt it would hamper business development and the restaurants the neighborhood is known for.
Businesses that seek to expand can apply to the zoning board for an exemption if they can prove that the expansion is vital to business or that they are located in an area with high vacancy.