Land Use Regulation

I. Origin and Nature of Land Use Regulations

A. "Bundle of Rights" and "As of Right Zoning"
B. Need for planning for the future
C. Private land use controls: deed restrictions, covenants, etc.

II. Police Power

A. NYS Article 9A
B. Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act
C. Environmental
D. Taxation
E. State Building and Fire Codes and Regulations
F. Department of State

1. Coastal Zone Management Programs
2. Local Waterfront Revitalization Programs (LWRP)
3. Office for Local Government Services

G. Transportation: State, Regional, County and Local
H. Federal Controls: HUD, US Corps of Army Engineers, DEC, etc.

III. Local Authority: Counties, cities, towns and villages

A. Enact local zoning ordinances and building codes
B. Some typical zoning classifications: Residential, Commercial, Industrial, Vacant, Agricultural, Public, Open Space, Parklands, Recreational (Active and Passive), Institutional, etc.
C. Incentive Zoning
D. Clustering
E. Transfer of development rights
F. Rule of legislative body in zoning

IV. The Planning Board - Planning Defined

A. Master of Comprehensive Plan, Official Map, etc.

1. Subdivisions
2. Development Codes
3. Zoning Actions
4. Capital Budgeting
5. Other Planning Related Actions

a. FHA approval
b. Plat, density, street/traffic patterns
c. PUD - Planned Unit Development
d. Site plan review

V. The Zoning Board of Appeals: Administrative and Quasic-judicial, NOT Policy Making. Local Administrative Appeal Mechanism.

A. Article 78 Procedure
B. Special Exception Use Permit or Special Use Permit
C. USE Variance: "Unnecessary Hardship":

1. Applicant is deprived of all economic use or benefit
2. Hardship is unique, not universal to area of neighborhood
3. Variance will not change essential character of neighborhood
4. Alleged hardship is not self-created

D. AREA Variance: "Practical Difficulty", health, safety, welfare

1. Undesirable change or detriment to nearby properties if granted
2. If benefit sought can be achieved by other feasible means
3. If requested, variance is substantial
4. If it would have an adverse effect or impact on physical or environmental conditions in the neighborhood or district5. If the difficulty was self-created (does not preclude granting)

E. Notice requirements to neighbors

VI. Local Enforcement

A. Building Department: Inspector, Code Enforcement Officer, etc.
B. Professional Services: Engineer, Environmental, Planning, Etc.
C. Board of Health
D. Local Courts

VII. Other Boards: Architectural Review, Historic, Wetland, Conservation, etc.

VIII. Glossary of Terms:

Accessory apartment/uses
Adirondack Park
Adverse Possession
Air Rights
Census Tract
Conservation Easement
Eminent Domain
Extinguish Developmental Rights
Family, Defined
Group Home
Historic District
Home Occupation
Impact Fees
Lead Agency
Master Plan
NYC Watershed
Overlay Zones
Restrictive Covenant
State Environmental Quality Review
SHPO State Historic Preservation Office
Spot Zoning
Superfund Laws
"Taking" as defined by Courts
Transfer of Development Rights TOR

Featured Content

Fourth quarter Legal Lines now available

The fourth quarter 2019 edition of NYSAR’s Legal Lines is now available online at This edition covers new DOS proposed regulations, emotional support animals in housing, Landlord discrimination and more. Learn more