To The Editor:
There is legislation before the state legislature that would eliminate the cap on something called the floor area ratio (FAR) for new construction. What does that mean?
Each zoning classification has a floor area ratio number assigned to it. Many of the zones in northeastern Queens have a FAR of 0.5. This means essentially that if you have a 40 by 100 lot (4,000 square feet), you can build a house or building that contains an FAR of 0.5 or 2,000 square feet.
The highest FAR in New York City is 12. That applies to high rises in densely populated areas of Manhattan, Brooklyn and western Queens. Many in the real estate industry would like to see that cap eliminated, so that bulkier and taller buildings could be constructed. FARs would go above 12 if the cap is eliminated. Many people object to this proposal. They feel that light and air will be further cut from existing low-density buildings that lie in those areas mentioned above. It would also lead to more congestion and stress the existing infrastructure in these areas.
Many people also feel that if the FAR cap gets raised above 12, then a precedent will be set and the city may try to raise the FAR in other zoning designations as well. The supposed goal is to create more affordable housing. However, many experts believe that the so-called affordable housing that could be created would in large part still be unaffordable by most working-class families. Raising the cap of the FAR would only encourage overdevelopment and inappropriate development and could eventually affect all areas of our city.
Please call your state senator and assemblyperson and tell them to vote against eliminating the state cap on the floor area ratio. Raising the limit of the FAR cap would remove any limit on the size of residential buildings in zones with a current FAR of 12, and invite the possibility of higher FARs throughout the city.