Under State and County law, municipalities are required to refer certain planning and zoning actions to the Westchester County Planning Board for review.
A referral involves the municipality either notifying or sending a copy of an application or proposed action with supporting documentation to the County Planning Board. The Planning Board, with the assistance of Planning Department staff, then conducts a review and prepares a recommendation letter response to the relevant municipality. The County Planning Board's comments and recommendations on municipal referrals are available in monthly summary reports.
To see monthly summaries of the Planning Board's responses to municipalities on referred planning and zoning actions, visit the Planning Board page.
The County Planning Board receives about 700 municipal referrals annually. These range from minor zoning variances for single-family houses to site plans for major shopping centers to new zoning codes and comprehensive plans. Referrals are assessed within the context of the County Planning Board’s adopted land use policies, and for intermunicipal and countywide concerns including potential impacts on state and county roads, parks and facilities. For more details, see Referrals Review Process.
To make government work smarter and to reduce burdensome and unnecessary paperwork, the County Planning Board acted in 2003 to cut down on the administrative burden that NYS General Municipal Law (GML) places on municipal boards. The board predetermined that entire categories of actions are matters of local concern only. Although GML and the County Administrative Code still require that the County Planning Board be notified of these actions (the County Planning Board cannot change the law), that notification can now be made by e-mail, or fax if e-mail is unavailable. For these “Notification Only” actions, there is no need to forward voluminous application forms, maps and supporting information. The County Planning Board will acknowledge such a submission by e-mail or fax to provide the local board with the necessary record to show compliance with the referral requirements of the law.
Tables I and II identify the local actions that require County Planning Board notification under the provisions of Section 239 L, M and N of the New York State General Municipal Law and Section 277.61 of the County Administrative Code. The Actions requiring referral of complete applications are listed in Table I. Actions requiring notification only are listed in Table II.
A Referral Submission Form should be completed for the referral to the County Planning Board of all application materials to be sent for actions listed on Table I.
A different Notification Only Submission Form should be completed for the eligible actions listed on Table II.
Department of Planning staff is available to answer questions and to tailor special administrative procedures for your community. Our objective is to make this system work efficiently and with sharp focus.
To find out detailed information on specific local development and zoning projects, the individual municipality should be contacted. Refer to the community index.
Planning and Zoning Training Opportunities
As of January, 2007, minimum training requirements for municipal planning and zoning board members are now the law. Four hours each year are mandatory for members of county, city, town and village planning and zoning boards. Take a look at a brochure on the law
Online training on the basics of New York land use law, is offered by the New York Municipal Insurance Reciprocal (NYMIR). This program is free and features nine tutorials and a glossary with links to definitions and various New York State statutes. If properly documented, participation in this program should be eligible for earning required training credits.