Under the New York State General Municipal Law (GML), counties, cities, towns, and villages are given the authority to undertake and oversee certain activities. Article 12B, Section 239 of the GML, describes the role of the county planning agency in matters of planning and zoning, and outlines the criteria which are used in determining if an action is subject to review. 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.
These sections of law exist because the state realized that there are certain planning and zoning actions that may have impact beyond the individual municipality. Not all actions undertaken within the county are subject to review by the County Planning Agency Commissioner. Section 239(l) describes the intent of the State Legislature in providing county review. As described, 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 his 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.
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;
- Or the existing or proposed boundary of any county or state owned land on which a public building or institution is situated.
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.
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.