Navigating Greenhouse Regulations in NYC

A Guide to Rooftop and Backyard Cultivation

In the context of NYC zoning regulations, greenhouses fall under the category of agricultural uses. Agricultural uses are permitted in almost all zoning districts throughout the city, with the exception of C7 districts.

For residents residing in areas with residential zoning, non-commercial greenhouses are allowed in the rear yard. However, there are certain limitations to be aware of. These greenhouses must adhere to the following guidelines:

Within all zoning districts where agricultural uses are allowed (except C7 districts), rooftop greenhouses can be constructed on building roofs. Importantly, these greenhouses have unique privileges that distinguish them from traditional building extensions:

  1. Permitted Obstruction: Rooftop greenhouses can be constructed as permitted obstructions, meaning they don't count toward the building's floor area. This distinction is made possible through a certification process overseen by the Chair of the City Planning Commission.
  2. Height Exemption: Greenhouses on rooftops are allowed to exceed the height limit set by the underlying zoning district.
  3. Certification Process: The details of the certification for rooftop greenhouses are outlined in Section 75-01 of the Zoning Resolution. Applicants seeking the Chair's certification must fulfill certain criteria, including:

For a deeper understanding of NYC's greenhouse regulations and urban agriculture guidelines, the official NYC Department of Agriculture website provides a wealth of information. This source offers insights into various agricultural aspects, including zoning regulations, permits, and frequently asked questions.

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