New York City Waterfront Revitalization Program

In June 2016, New York City updated its local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP) to require development and redevelopment projects to consider and mitigate against the risks posed by climate change and sea level rise.  The LWRP is the city’s policies for management, use, and development of waterfront properties and coastal resources pursuant to the state's Waterfront Revitalization of Coastal Areas and Inland Waterway Act (NY Executive Law § 910 et seq. (McKinney)) and the federal Coastal Zone Management Act.  Under state law, New York State localities can adopt a local waterfront revitalization program (LWRP) and, once approved by New York Department of State, the locality then assumes the power to review federal, state, and local waterfront permits.  The city implements the LWRP through land-use regulations, development proposals in waterfront areas are examined for consistency with the LWRP.

New York City's LWRP includes several policies to encourage projects to incorporate resilience measures:

  • Development and redevelopment must consider and minimize risks of flooding posed by climate change and sea-level rise over the project’s lifetime (Policy 1 at p. 22 and Policy 6 at pp. 50-56).  Consideration of projections of climate change and sea-level rise must be integrated into the planning and design of all projects in the city's coastal zone.  Projects must incorporate design techniques to increase the resilience of the project to future climate change.  Resilient design strategies can include elevating or floodproofing structures, installing natural flood buffers, and using salt-tolerant plants for coastal restoration projects.
  • Maritime and industrial development projects must minimize impacts to nearby neighborhoods and ecological resources (Policy 2 at p. 32).  Strategies can include using green stormwater management practices and restoring natural vegetative shorelines buffers to reduce polluted runoff.
  • Smaller sites of ecological significance may be targeted for restoration and enhancement (Policy 4 at pp. 42-44).  The LWRP maps and creates a designation of lands called “Recognized Ecological Complexes” that are smaller sites throughout the city that could be targeted for restoration and enhancement.  The revisions also expand the options for restoring these areas from just restoring wetlands to restoring coastal and maritime forest and improving habitat for aquatic species such as oysters, mussels and eelgrass.  Restoration projects are also directed to consider future projected site conditions due to climate change.  The policy also promotes post-implementation monitoring of restoration projects.
  • Green infrastructure strategies can be used to capture and retain stormwater and improve water quality (Policy 5 at pp. 47-48).   The policy promotes both green infrastructure strategies such as the use of bioswales and green roofs, as well as needed gray infrastructure upgrades to wastewater treatment facilities and sewer systems.  The policy also promotes the use of in-water pilot projects to remediate contamination through dredging, instream aeration, and cultivation of subaquatic vegetation. 

The LWRP was approved by the City-council in December 2014, and was reviewed by state and federal agencies for approval before it was finalized in June 2016.  The updates to th e LWRP were developed to conform with the City’s new comprehensive waterfront plan – Vision 2020 – which was adopted in 2011 and lays out the city’s 10-year plan for development and management of the city’s waterfront.   The Vision 2020 Plan incorporated design principles for ensuring that city projects affecting maritime properties and coastal resources consider the effects of climate change and sea-level rise. 


Publication Date: June 2016

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  • Agency guidance/policy
  • Regulation

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