One of the fundamental powers of a municipality is the ability to control land use within its boundaries. The basic statutory authority for zoning and planning in villages is found in Village Law, Article 7.
Zoning is the most basic and significant of all the land use controls. Zoning regulates the use, density, physical characteristics, and the siting of development. The power to zone is granted to villages in Village Law 7-700. Village Law 7-700 grants sweeping powers to a village for the purpose of promoting the health, safety, morals, or general welfare as follows:
To regulate and restrict the height, number of stories and size of buildings and other structures, the percentage of lot that may be occupied, the size of yards, courts and
other open spaces, the density of population and the location and use of buildings, structures and land for trade, industry, residence and other purposes.
The function of a Planning Board is advisory unless a local law specifically grants authority to a planning board to approve site plans, subdivision plats, special permits, or other developments approvals. The advisory function of a planning board includes making reports and conducting investigations in connection with the planning and development of the village and the development of a master plan.
Additional powers are granted to villages to establish planning commissions pursuant to General Municipal Law, Article 12-A. A planning commission established under Article 12-A is authorized to make recommendations on the adoption or change of official maps, drainage or water system plans, waterfront plans, the proposed location of public buildings, businesses, bridges, statues or monuments, highways, parks, parkways, squares, playgrounds, recreation areas or public open spaces.
Special Use Permits
Village Law 7-725-b defines the special use permit as “an authorization of a particular land use which is permitted in a zoning local law, subject to requirements imposed by such local law to assure that the proposed use is in harmony with such local law and will not adversely affect the neighborhood if such requirements are met.” Special Use Permits are sometimes called SUP’s, special permits, special exceptions or conditional use permits.