zoning, rezoning, community empowerment, Harlem, East Harlem, Central Harlem, Morningside Heights, urban planning, community boards, contextual zoning, neighborhood preservation, land use


This article reviews three development proposals in Northern Manhattan communities, how community boards responded to those proposals, and how the responses affected the outcome of each development. The article begins with a broad overview of the history of community boards' role in urban planning in New York City. It finds that boards have become increasingly influential in new development plans, empowering the communities they represent. The Article goes on to analyze three recent proposals in turn (an expansion of Columbia University in Morningside Heights, a residential development in Central Harlem, and a comprehensive rezoning of East Harlem) according to "zoning," "community reaction," and "result." It concludes that by proactively pushing for rezoning and hiring Civitas Citizens, Inc., an "urban design, community advocacy organization" to oversee a rezoning plan, the community board of East Harlem was able to take control of preserving the character of its neighborhood.

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