Posted by: Patricia Salkin | May 16, 2009

Nassau County (NY) Enacts Smart-Growth Requirements for Subdivision Developments

The following is excerpted from a press release issued by Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi.

The new rules adopted by the County will streamline the development process and require developers to include plans for “smart” designs, expand public notice requirements for pending subdivision applications, and enact stricter penalties for developers who advertise or construct subdivision projects before receiving final approval.

“The Nassau County Planning Commission’s review of subdivisions will now be more in line with village and city subdivision reviews, and residents will also have more input into major development projects in their neighborhoods, thanks to increased public notice requirements,” said County Executive Tom Suozzi. “We’re also going to make sure we have pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods, and communities with trees and open spaces that have access to public transportation. These new standards will change the way we develop here in Nassau County.”

The new development requirements include the following:

  • Nassau County will cease to use its unique terms such as “full map reviews” and “waiver of certain filing requirements” and instead use the more common “major” and “minor” phrases when categorizing the type of subdivision review.  With the new rules, there no longer are separate County lot size requirements, so only the town, village or city lot size requirements will apply, and the County will not impose a separate County-wide area requirement.  Also, the County will not prohibit lot configurations containing “panhandle” or “flag lot” shapes; instead the County will only require that the lots be designed so that emergency and utility access is reasonably permitted within such design configurations, and then only the local municipal requirements for such lot configurations will control.  
  • Currently, all zoning actions undertaken by towns, villages and cities are required under state law to be submitted to the County Planning Commission for its review and recommendation, regardless of the significance or impact of the proposed zoning change.  With these new rules, each local municipality may enter into agreements with the County to streamline this process and only submit to the County certain more significant zoning actions.  Some types of matters that no longer must get County recommendations include zoning fee changes, municipal enforcement matters, site plans and area variances for single and separate residential lots, fence and sign variances and parent/child permit requests or renewals. 
  • There no longer is an automatic exemption from planning review of proposed subdivisions simply because a historic map can be found showing obsolete subdivision lines.  Except for one minor exception relating to co-ops and condos, all proposed subdivisions are now subject to planning review in order to ensure that only safe and “smart” planning principals are applied when designing new subdivisions in the County. 
  • Public notice requirements have been expanded, so more neighbors will be informed of pending subdivision applications.
  • A two-tiered penalty structure has will impose penalties for both marketing as well as constructing subdivision developments prior to receiving final approval. 
  • Major subdivision developments will now have to include plans showing features such as trees, green spaces, public transportation accessibility and “walkability.”

To access a complete copy of the new regulations, see:

Special thanks to Jackie Gross, Nassau County Deputy County Attorney, for sharing this information with Law of the Land.

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