General Municipal Law (GML)

New York General Municipal Law (GML) requires that certain types of municipal planning, zoning and subdivision projects be referred to County Planning for review prior to local action being taken. The requirement seeks to promote coordination of land use decision-making and to enhance consideration of potential inter-municipal and county-wide impacts. This requirement is outlined in Article 12-B of the GML, §239 l, m and n. This process is commonly referred to across New York State as the "GML 239 referral", the "GML 239 review", or simply the "239 review" process. The responsibility for all Section 239 reviews has been given to the Rockland County Commissioner of Planning, pursuant to Article X, Section 5-82 of the Rockland County Charter.


For a complete list of GML review applications by municipality, please visit our GML Archive

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the County Planning Department involved?

Article 12B, Section 239 of the GML exists because the state realized that there are certain planning and zoning actions that may have impact beyond the individual municipality.

Section 239(l) requires that certain actions pertaining to planning and zoning must be reviewed and reported upon by the County Planning Agency Commissioner and establishes a list of general areas which may be considered by the commissioner in making their review. Those general areas are the compatibility of certain land uses with one another, traffic generation, impact on state and county facilities, protection of community character as regards predominant land uses, population density and the relation between residential and nonresidential areas, drainage, community facilities, development policies as related to a comprehensive plan and other matters as may relate to the public convenience, to governmental efficiency and the achieving and maintaining of a satisfactory community environment.

Not all actions undertaken within the county are subject to review by the County Planning Agency Commissioner.

What types of projects must go to County Planning for review?

Under Section 239(m), adoption or amendment of a comprehensive plan, adoption or amendment of a zoning ordinance or local law, issuance of special permits (or conditional use permits), approval of site plans, granting of use or area variances, or other authorizations which a referring body may issue under the provisions of any zoning ordinance or local law, such as a change of zone, must be referred to the Commissioner of Planning if it is within 500 feet of any of the following:

  • A municipal boundary
  • A boundary of an existing or proposed state or county park or recreation area, including the Long Path (a regional hiking trail that traverses Rockland County)
  • The right-of-way of any existing or proposed County or State parkway, thruway, expressway, road or highway (including the Palisades Interstate Parkway and the New York State Thruway)
  • A right-of-way for any existing or proposed stream or drainage channel owned by the county or for which the county has established channel lines
  • The existing or proposed boundary of any county or state owned land on which a public building or institution is situate
Under Section 239(n), all preliminary or final plats or development of undeveloped plats must be referred to the County Planning Agency Commissioner if they are within 500 feet of the same criteria as described above.

Is there cooperation between municipalities?

Section 239(nn) requires the municipality to give notice to an adjacent municipality when a hearing is held for land use and zoning actions. The intent of this section is to encourage the coordination of land use development and regulation among adjacent municipalities in order that each adjacent municipality may recognize the goals and objectives of neighboring municipalities, and as a result, development occurs in a manner that is supportive of the goals and objectives of the general area. The following actions require that notification be sent to the adjacent municipality if the property is within five hundred feet from the municipal boundary:

  • The issuance of a proposed special use permit or the granting of a use variance
  • Site plan review and approval
  • A subdivision review and approval
What are the requirements of, and how do you comply with, GML?

GML requires Towns and Villages to file a report of final action to the County Planning Commissioner. Within thirty days after final action, the Municipal Board (Planning Board, Town or Village Board, and/or Zoning Board of Appeals) shall file a report of the final action it has take with the County Planning Agency or Regional Planning Council. The County Planning Commissioner can approve, recommend modifications, or disapprove the project. Once the County Planning Commissioner's comments are received, the Municipality may act on the application. If the County review recommends modifications or is a disapproval, a super majority of the Municipal Board, Planning Board, or Zoning Board is needed to override the GML findings. A Municipality can accept all comments, or chose to override some or all of the comments. If they override any/all comments, then the reason(s) for each override must be provided in the official resolution.

What is the Executive Order?

Rockland County Executive Ed Day signed an Executive Order (EO) that requires County departments to verify that real property applications subject to local board action have complied with GML, prior to issuing permits or approvals.

The applicant must submit a completed Planning Information Certification form with supporting documentation, including the official Board resolution or report, to any/all County Departments for which the project needs approvals/permits. If this form and documentation are not submitted, under the EO, no approvals, permits, or new 911 addresses will be issued.

Failure to comply with GML will result in the County not issuing permits for such uses as sewer connections, well permits, rooming house permits, drainage permits, road opening permits, issuance of new addresses and others.

GML Statistics: