Land Use and Planning – Nyack

Embarking on a new building or land use project can seem daunting because every municipality, from Villages (Nyack, Piermont, Upper Nyack, Sloatsburg) and Towns (Orangetown, Clarkstown, Red Hook), to Counties (Rockland, Westchester) and even New York State have regulations concerning the use of your land. State building codes control health and safety regulations, while local zoning and planning laws control the sizes and shapes of buildings, locations of development, sustainability features, location and height of fences, occupancy and density issues.

While most building permit applications are relatively straight forward, sometimes a project runs into difficulties, including the need for area variances, use variances, appeals from a building inspector’s determinations; and, of course, community opposition and zoning and building code violations. Building permit applications often require input from people representing all different aspects of the professional trades, including lawyers, engineers, architects. For example, the design and positioning of windows or massing of a building must be debated by an architectural review board, which oversees the design plans proposed by the applicant, with the intent that the new project does not substantially differ from other properties in the community. If the design does not meet existing code, the applicant must seek a variance from the ZBA. A variance is permission granted by the zoning board of appeals so that property may be used in a manner not allowed by the zoning. It is only the zoning board of appeals that has the power to provide for such exceptions from the zoning.

At Klose & Associates, we represent people from all sides of the application or controversy, including homeowners, objectants, developers, violators and anyone trying to make sense of the zoning and planning rules and regulations. We can advise you on local customs and represent you in a local court or before zoning and planning boards to help you get your project or problem solved expeditiously.

What is Zoning? Zoning is the regulatory framework that sets forth the municipalities aspirations to control the orderly development of a community. Every city has regulatory requirements for zoning and planning. To achieve these goals, planning boards and zoning boards exist. A planning board is a panel of citizens who are appointed to administer applications for development and land use, which is sometimes guided by a Comprehensive Master Plan. For example, the Village of Nyack’s Comprehensive Master Plan is a legislative document setting for the community’s vision for development. Chapter four of Nyack’s CMP decrees that:

“The built environment – the type, location and intensity of existing and future land uses – defines the character of a village. It is important to know where and how much land is presently developed for residential, business, recreation and other uses. Examining these developed areas helps residents visualize desirable and undesirable aspects of land use patterns and provides a foundation for the planning policies and objectives guiding future development of vacant or underdeveloped parcels. A municipality’s zoning and subdivision regulations are the major regulatory tools with which it can control land uses and influence future development patterns and practices.” If the application does not comply specifically with what is permitted “by right,” the applicant may need to attend a Zoning Board of Appeals to plead for a “variance” or “special permit.” A zoning board, is a body that has very limited jurisdiction to hear appeals from building department rulings, approve variances, or other specific duties granted by statute. The ZBA is the board which would decide if the application would permits the use of land which is proscribed (prohibited) by the zoning regulations. For example, one would seek a use variance to establish a commercial use in a residential district, which permits a multiple dwelling in adistrict limited to single-family homes, or which permits an industrial use in a districtlimited to commercial uses. Every municipality delegates different review powers and permits in slightly different ways. Here is a very helpful document explaining the differences in the various boards, and explaining the basics of land use law.

Whether in Nyack or other municipalities in New York, it is thus important to adhere to local regulations for zoning matters, and an experienced attorney like Klose & Associates can help you to handle all of your land use problems. New York State regulatory oversight for zoning touches all areas of daily life, including growth management, affordable housing, natural resource conservation, renewable energy development, watershed planning, transportation infrastructure development, agricultural farmland protection, and economic development.

As land use lawyers, we can help you with special permits, economic development initiatives, special permits, variances, subdivision, telecommunication, RLUIPA (Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act), SEQRA (New York State’s Environmental Quality Review Act), due diligence for acquisitions, zoning or rezoning, easements, and development rights transfers. There are two main kinds of variances: area variances, which are exceptions to the zoning regulations on the property due to constraints by the property itself that violate the owner’s ability to use the property like neighboring ones; and use variances, which are exceptions to use the property in ways not usually permitted by the zoning laws. We have thorough knowledge and experience with local, state, and administrative zoning laws and can help you in all aspects of land use and zoning. Whether your problem is large or small, from opening a small business (like a dog grooming spa in Eastchester), or opening a bed & breakfast (in New Windsor), Klose & Associates can help you every step of the way. In our local practice, most matters arise from proposed land use alterations, especially environmental concerns if problems arise from traffic, drainage, runoff, and emergency vehicle access, land use density, neighborhood character, and environmental issues. Klose & Associates can help you navigate SEQRA requirements, RLUIPA, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, and wetlands control boards, among many others. This process requires help from experienced attorneys who know the ins and outs of the regulatory landscape, especially when this involves public hearings and court appearances. If all else fails, we have handled Article 78 proceedings and complex litigation necessary to challenge and overturn decisions of local boards. We want you to use your property to its fullest potential and avoid government encroachments on your ability to use the value of your property.

Planning and zoning can be difficult areas to navigate, but with the help of an experienced attorney, the process can be simple and efficient to help you make the right decision for your property. Klose & Associates can give you the seasoned legal advice as we Pull for You!