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Regulatory and Permitting Information Desktop Toolkit

New York Land Use Planning (1-NY-a)

In New York, land use planning is a function of cooperative local government action. N.Y. Gen. Muni. L. §§19-o and119-u; N.Y. Gen. City L. §20-g; N.Y. Twn. L. §284(1); N.Y. Village L. § 7-741(1). Local governments may implement comprehensive land use plans and regulate land use development to protect the public health, safety and general welfare of its citizens. N.Y. Gen. City L. §28-a, City Comprehensive Plan; N.Y. Gen. City L. §20, Grant of Power; N.Y. Twn. L. §261, Grant of Power; N.Y. Twn. L. §272a, Town Comprehensive Plan; N.Y. Village L. § 7-700, Grant of Power; N.Y. Village L. § 7-722, Village Comprehensive Plan; N.Y. Gen. Muni. L. §236, General Powers; N.Y. Gen. Muni. L. §239-d, County Comprehensive Plan; N.Y. Gen. Muni. L. §239-i, Regional Comprehensive Plan. A local government may implement special, open space, and farmland protection plans separate from a comprehensive land use plan. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Comprehensive Plans Website.


Land Use Planning Process

1-NY-a.1 to 1-NY.a.3 — Is there a Comprehensive Land Use Plan in Place?

The developer should check the local government website, or contact the municipal clerk, code enforcement officer, or planning board clerk to determine if there is a comprehensive plan where the project is located. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Comprehensive Plans Website.

A comprehensive plan is a written and/or graphic, including but not limited to maps, charts, studies, resolutions, reports and other descriptive material that identify the goals objectives, principles, guidelines, policies, standards, devices and instruments for the immediate and long-range protection, enhancement, growth and development of a city, or village, or county or region, or town located outside the limits of any incorporated village or city. N.Y. Gen. City L. §28-a(3)(a), City Comprehensive Plan; N.Y. Twn. L. §272a(2)(a), Town Comprehensive Plan; N.Y. Village L. § 7-722(2)(a); N.Y. Gen. Muni. L. §§239-b(6), (9).

N.Y. Gen. City L. §28-a, City Comprehensive Plan, N.Y. Twn. L. §272a, Town Comprehensive Plan, N.Y. Village L. § 7-722, Village Comprehensive Plan, N.Y. Gen. Muni. L. §239-d, County Comprehensive Plan, and N.Y. Gen. Muni. L. §239-i, Regional Comprehensive Plan define and describe the legal aspects of comprehensive planning in New York. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Comprehensive Plans Website . These laws allow and encourage the adoption of comprehensive plans for all New York State municipalities, but do not require it.

The village, town, city, county, or regional comprehensive plan will provide a context for determining if the proposed development activity is compatible with the community’s overall plans for development. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Comprehensive Plans Website. Activities that are consistent with a comprehensive plan are much less likely to result in impacts to community character or to the environment. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Comprehensive Plans Website.

If there is a comprehensive plan, the developer should research the plan and any accompanying maps, studies, or other information in order to determine the goals and planning strategies that apply to the proposed project site, and if there are any recommendations applicable to it. Some plans are general in nature and do not make specific recommendations for individual locations in a community. Other plans are very specific and include text or maps indicating exactly what is planned for a particular location. The developer should become familiar with what, if any plans exist for the parcel, as well as what the vision, goals, recommendations, and general mapped land use plans may be included. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Comprehensive Plans Website.

1-NY-a.3 to 1-NY-a.4 — Does the Project Require a Proposal to Amend, Adopt, or Appeal a Comprehensive Plan?

A developer may propose to amend or adopt a village, town, municipal, county, or regional comprehensive land use plan. N.Y. Gen. City L. §28-a, City Comprehensive Plan; N.Y. Gen. City L. §20, Grant of Power; N.Y. Twn. L. §261, Grant of Power; N.Y. Twn. L. §272a, Town Comprehensive Plan; N.Y. Village L. § 7-700, Grant of Power; N.Y. Village L. § 7-722, Village Comprehensive Plan; N.Y. Gen. Muni. L. §236, General Powers; N.Y. Gen. Muni. L. §239-d, County Comprehensive Plan; N.Y. Gen. Muni. L. §239-i, Regional Comprehensive Plan.

1-NY-a.5 — Submit Proposed Plan and/or Amendment to the Applicable Planning Commission or Board

The developer should submit the proposed comprehensive land use plan and/or amendment to the applicable planning commission or board. In the event the planning board or special board is directed to prepare a proposed comprehensive plan or amendment, the board must, by resolution recommend the proposed plan or amendment to the legislative body of the village, city, town or county. N.Y. Gen. City L. §28-a(5); N.Y. Twn. L. §272-a(4); N.Y. Gen. Muni. L. §239-d(2). A regional planning commission may prepare a proposed regional comprehensive plan or amendment itself. N.Y. Gen. Muni. L. §239-i(2).

1-NY-a.6 — Refer the Proposed Comprehensive Plan or Amendment

The legislative body must refer the proposed comprehensive plan or amendment to the plan, to the planning board or commission for review and comment.

Village Comprehensive Plans

The village board of trustees must, prior to adoption, refer the proposed comprehensive plan or any amendment to the plan to the county planning board or agency or regional planning council for review and recommendation. N.Y. Village L. § 7-722(5)(b). The village board of trustees may also refer the proposed comprehensive plan or amendment to the village planning board for review and recommendation before action by the village board of trustees. N.Y. Village L. § 7-722(5)(a).

Town Comprehensive Plans

The town board must, prior to adoption, refer the proposed comprehensive plan or any amendment to the plan to the county planning board or agency or regional planning council for review and recommendation. N.Y. Twn. L. §272-a(5)(b). The town board may also refer the proposed comprehensive plan or amendment to the town planning board for review and recommendation before action by the town board. N.Y. Twn. L. §272-a(5)(a).

City Comprehensive Plans

The legislative body of the city must, prior to adoption, refer the proposed comprehensive plan or any amendment to the plan to the county planning board or agency or regional planning council for review and recommendation. N.Y. Gen. City L. §28-a(6)(b). The legislative body of the city may also refer the proposed comprehensive plan or amendment to the city planning board for review and recommendation before action by the legislative body of the city. N.Y. Gen. City L. §28-a(6)(a).

County Comprehensive Plans

The county legislative body must, prior to adoption, refer the proposed county comprehensive plan or any amendment to the plan to the county and regional planning boards as well as to the legislative bodies and planning boards of each municipality within the county for review and recommendation. N.Y. Gen. Muni. L. §239-d(5).

Regional Comprehensive Plans

The regional planning council must, prior to adoption, refer the proposed regional comprehensive plan or any amendment to the plan to the collaborating municipal legislative bodies and planning board for review and recommendation. N.Y. Gen. Muni. L. §239-i(5).

1-NY-a.7 to 1-NY-a.9 — Publish Notice of Public Hearings

The legislative body must hold one or more public hearings and provide notice of the public hearing(s), regarding the proposed comprehensive plan or amendment to the plan, pursuant to the applicable statute. Interested parties may comment on the proposed plan and/or amendment during the public hearings.

Public Hearings: Village, Town, Municipal, and County Comprehensive Plans

Prior to adopting or amending a village, town, municipal or county comprehensive plan, the applicable legislative body (town board, legislative body of the city, village board of trustees, or county legislative body) must hold one or more hearings on the proposed comprehensive plan or amendment. N.Y. Gen. Muni. L. §239-d(6)(a); N.Y. Gen. City L. §28-a(7)(a); N.Y. Twn. L. §272-a(6)(a); N.Y. Village L. § 7-722(6)(a).

In the event the legislative body has directed the planning board or a special board to prepare a proposed comprehensive plan or amendment, the board preparing the plan must hold one or more public hearings, as the board deems necessary to assure full opportunity for citizen participation in the preparation of such proposed plan or amendment. N.Y. Gen. City L. §28-a(7)(b); N.Y. Twn. L. §272-a(6)(b); N.Y. Village L. § 7-722(6)(b); N.Y. Gen. City L. §28-a(7)(b); N.Y. Twn. L. §272-a(6)(b); N.Y. Village L. § 7-722(6)(b); N.Y. Gen. Muni. L. §239-d(6)(b).

Where a planning board or special board prepares the proposed comprehensive plan or amendment the appropriate legislative body must hold a public hearing within ninety (90) days of receiving the planning board or special board’s recommendations of such proposed plan or amendment, prior to adoption, if applicable. N.Y. Gen. City L. §28-a(7)(b); N.Y. Twn. L. §272-a(6)(b); N.Y. Village L. § 7-722(6)(b); N.Y. Gen. Muni. L. §239-d(6)(b).

Public Hearings: Regional Comprehensive Plans

Regional planning commission must hold one or more public hearings in each collaborating municipality for the region. The legislative body may hold other meetings, as it deems necessary, to assure full opportunity of citizen participation in the preparation of the proposed plan or amendment to the plan. N.Y. Gen. Muni. L. §239-i(6)(a).

Public Notice: All Comprehensive Plans

The legislative body must publish notice of the public hearing in a newspaper of general circulation in each city, town, county, or collaborating municipality at least ten (10) calendar days in advance of the hearing. N.Y. Gen. Muni. L. §239-d(6)(c); N.Y. Gen. City L. §28-a(7)(c); N.Y. Twn. L. §272-a(6)(c); N.Y. Village L. § 7-722(6)(c).

Public Notice: Village, Town, City, and Regional Comprehensive Plans

Proposed village, town, or city comprehensive plans or amendments must be available for public review at the office of the county clerk (of each collaborating municipality, if applicable) and may be made available at any other place, including a public library. N.Y. Gen. City L. §28-a(7)(c); N.Y. Twn. L. §272-a(6)(c); N.Y. Village L. § 7-722(6)(c); N.Y. Gen. Muni. L. §239-i(6)(b).

Public Notice: Regional and County Comprehensive Plans

In addition, regional and county legislative bodies must also mail notice to the chief executive officer and chairperson of the planning board of each municipality at least ten (10) days before the public hearing. N.Y. Gen. Muni. L. §239-d(6)(c); N.Y. Gen. Muni. L. §239-i(6)(b);

For county comprehensive plans, the representatives of the regional or county planning board, the commissioner of transportation, or his or her representatives, county departments, municipalities, citizens and other interested parties must be given an opportunity to be heard. N.Y. Gen. Muni. L. §239-d(6)(c).

1-NY-a.10 to 1-NY-a.11 — Is there a Revision to the Proposed Comprehensive Plan or Amendment?

The legislative body may revise the proposed comprehensive plan or amendment after review and consideration of the comments generated from the public hearings, and the recommendations from the planning commission or special board. N.Y. Gen. City L. §28-a, City Comprehensive Plan; N.Y. Gen. City L. §20, Grant of Power; N.Y. Twn. L. §261, Grant of Power; N.Y. Twn. L. §272a, Town Comprehensive Plan; N.Y. Village L. § 7-700, Grant of Power; N.Y. Village L. § 7-722, Village Comprehensive Plan; N.Y. Gen. Muni. L. §236, General Powers; N.Y. Gen. Muni. L. §239-d, County Comprehensive Plan; N.Y. Gen. Muni. L. §239-i, Regional Comprehensive Plan.

1-NY-a.12 to 1-NY-a.14 — Publish Notice of Public Hearing(s)

The legislative body must hold one or more public hearings and provide notice of the public hearing(s), regarding the final comprehensive plan or amendment to the plan, pursuant to the applicable statute. Interested parties may comment on the final comprehensive plan and/or amendment during the public hearings.

Public Hearing: Village, Town, City and County Comprehensive Plans or Amendments

The legislative body (legislative body of the city, town board, village board of trustees, or county legislative body) must hold one or more public hearings prior to adoption of the proposed plan or amendment. N.Y. Gen. City L. §§ 28-a(7)(a)-(b); N.Y. Twn. L. §§ 272-a(6)(a)-(b); N.Y. Village L. §§ 7-722(6)(a)-(b); N.Y. Gen. Muni. L. §§ 239-d(6)(a)-(b); N.Y. Gen. Muni. L. §239-i(4).

Public Hearing: Regional Comprehensive Plans or Amendments

Regional planning councils must hold one or more public hearings in each collaborating municipality prior to adoption of a proposed comprehensive plan or amendment. N.Y. Gen. Muni. L. §239-i(6)(a).

Public Notice: All Comprehensive Plans

The legislative body must publish notice of the public hearing in a newspaper of general circulation in each city, town, county, or collaborating municipality at least ten (10) calendar days in advance of the hearing. N.Y. Gen. Muni. L. §239-d(6)(c); N.Y. Gen. City L. §28-a(7)(c); N.Y. Twn. L. §272-a(6)(c); N.Y. Village L. § 7-722(6)(c).

Public Notice: Village, Town, City, and Regional Comprehensive Plans

Proposed village, town, or city comprehensive plans or amendments must be available for public review at the office of the county clerk (of each collaborating municipality, if applicable) and may be made available at any other place, including a public library. N.Y. Gen. City L. §28-a(7)(c); N.Y. Twn. L. §272-a(6)(c); N.Y. Village L. § 7-722(6)(c); N.Y. Gen. Muni. L. §239-i(6)(b).

Public Notice: Regional and County Comprehensive Plans

In addition, regional and county legislative bodies must also mail notice to the chief executive officer and chairperson of the planning board of each municipality at least ten (10) days before the public hearing. N.Y. Gen. Muni. L. §239-d(6)(c); N.Y. Gen. Muni. L. §239-i(6)(b);

For county comprehensive plans, the representatives of the regional or county planning board, the commissioner of transportation, or his or her representatives, county departments, municipalities, citizens and other interested parties must be given an opportunity to be heard. N.Y. Gen. Muni. L. §239-d(6)(c).

1-NY-a.15 — Revise Final Comprehensive Plan or Amendment (If Applicable)

The legislative body may revise the proposed comprehensive plan or amendment after review and consideration of the comments generated from the public hearings regarding the final comprehensive plan or amendment. N.Y. Gen. City L. §28-a, City Comprehensive Plan; N.Y. Gen. City L. §20, Grant of Power; N.Y. Twn. L. §261, Grant of Power; N.Y. Twn. L. §272a, Town Comprehensive Plan; N.Y. Village L. § 7-700, Grant of Power; N.Y. Village L. § 7-722, Village Comprehensive Plan; N.Y. Gen. Muni. L. §236, General Powers; N.Y. Gen. Muni. L. §239-d, County Comprehensive Plan; N.Y. Gen. Muni. L. §239-i, Regional Comprehensive Plan.

1-NY-a.15 — Is the Comprehensive Plan or Amendment Adopted?

The legislative body may adopt, by resolution, a comprehensive land use plan or amendment in order to regulate land use development to protect the public health, safety and general welfare of its citizens. N.Y. Gen. City L. §§28-a(2),(8), City Comprehensive Plan; N.Y. Gen. City L. §20, Grant of Power; N.Y. Twn. L. §261, Grant of Power; N.Y. Twn. L. §§272a(1),(4), Town Comprehensive Plan; N.Y. Village L. § 7-700, Grant of Power; N.Y. Village L. §§ 7-722(1),(4), Village Comprehensive Plan; N.Y. Gen. Muni. L. §236, General Powers; N.Y. Gen. Muni. L. §239-d, County Comprehensive Plan; N.Y. Gen. Muni. L. §239-i, Regional Comprehensive Plan.

When making a determination to adopt a comprehensive plan or amendment, the legislative body must make sure the comprehensive plan or amendment complies with the State Environmental Quality Review Act. N.Y. Gen. City L. §28-a(9); N.Y. Twn. L. §272-a(8); N.Y. Village L. § 7-722(8); N.Y. Gen. Muni. L. §239-d(3); N.Y. Gen. Muni. L. §239-i(3). For more information regarding New York’s State Environmental Quality Review, see:

State Environmental Quality Review:
9-NY-a

In addition, the comprehensive plan and any amendments to the plan must take into consideration applicable agricultural and farmland protection plans. N.Y. Gen. City L. §28-a(10); N.Y. Twn. L. §272-a(9); N.Y. Village L. § 7-722(9); N.Y. Gen. Muni. L. §239-d(4); N.Y. Gen. Muni. L. §239-i(4).

1-NY-a.17 — File Comprehensive Plan and/or Amendment

Village, Town, and City Comprehensive Plans

The legislative body (legislative body of the city, town board, village board) must file the adopted comprehensive plan and any amendments to the plan in the office of the respective (city, town, village) clerk. The respective legislative body must also file a copy of the comprehensive plan and any amendments to the plan in the office of the county planning agency. N.Y. Gen. City L. §28-a(13); N.Y. Twn. L. §272-a(12); N.Y. Village L. § 7-722(12);

All city, town, village land use regulations must be in accordance with a comprehensive plan. N.Y. Gen. City L. §28-a(12)(a); N.Y. Twn. L. §272-a(11)(a); N.Y. Village L. § 7-722(11)(a);

County Comprehensive Plans

The county legislative body must file the adopted comprehensive plan and any amendments to the plan in the in the office of the county clerk, or register. The county legislative body must also file a copy of the comprehensive plan and any amendments to the plan in the office of the county planning board, with the secretary of state, as well as with the clerk of each municipality within the county. N.Y. Gen. Muni. L. §239-d(8);

All county land acquisitions and public improvements, including those identified in the county official map adopted or amended pursuant to N.Y. Gen. Muni. L. §239-d must be in accordance with a county comprehensive plan, if one exists. N.Y. Gen. Muni. L. §239-d(9).

Regional Comprehensive Plans

The county legislative body must file the adopted comprehensive plan and any amendments to the plan in the office of the county clerk of each collaborating municipality. N.Y. Gen. Muni. L. §239-i(8);

All plans for capital projects of another government agency on land included in the regional comprehensive plan adopted pursuant to N.Y. Gen. Muni. L. §239-i must take the regional comprehensive plan into consideration. N.Y. Gen. Muni. L. §239-i(9).

1-NY-a.18 to 1-NY-a.19 — Is the Proposed Project Located within Any Local or Regional Special Planning District?

A developer should determine if the site of the proposed project is located within any local or regional special planning district by contacting the appropriate legislative body.

Special planning districts are areas identified by a local municipality, county, region or state that encompass and plan for a specific resource or location. Municipalities often adopt special planning districts, but they may not be part of a comprehensive plan. Some special plans are regional or targeted to a specific topic or location in the municipality so they may or may not strictly follow the boundaries of the municipality. Special planning districts are used to protect unique environmental, historic, architectural, and other features that require special consideration. Special planning districts usually have a limited focus, and often provide specific standards designed to address that unique resource or location. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Comprehensive Plans Website;

Special planning districts may be designated for a targeted resource or area, or for one or more municipalities. The scope of a special planning district can vary widely. The planning area might be small but oriented toward an important resource such as a viewshed within a single municipality, or it might span multiple municipalities, as might be the case with a watershed plan. Some examples of special planning districts include:

  • Brownfield redevelopment plans;
  • Habitat protection plans;
  • Transportation corridor plans;
  • Local waterfront revitalization plans;
  • Harbor management plans;
  • Regional or local coastal management plans;
  • Watershed protection plans; and
  • Critical environmental areas.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Comprehensive Plans Website.

If the proposed site is located within any local or regional planning district, the developer should review the special plans to determine development restricts and compliance measures.

1-NY-a.20 to 1-NY-a.22 — Is the Proposed Project Located within an Area Listed in an Adopted Open Space Plan or Farmland Protection Plan?

The developer should check the applicable municipal legislative body website, and contact the municipal clerk, code enforcement officer or planning board clerk to determine whether the proposed project is located within an adopted municipal space plan or adopted municipal farmland protection plan. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Comprehensive Plans Website.

In New York, villages, towns, cities, and counties either have the authority to develop a separate open space plan, or can include the elements of an open space plan in their comprehensive plan. New York villages, towns, cities, and counties may also develop agriculture and farmland protection plans separate from a comprehensive plan. These plans may identify specific areas of importance to the community, and establish policies or specific recommendations pertaining to development of those areas. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Comprehensive Plans Website.

If the proposed development is located within wholly or partially within an area listed in an adopted open space plan, or an adopted farmland protection plan, the developer should review the plans to determine development restricts and compliance measures. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Comprehensive Plans Website.



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