Zoning Referral

The Planning Commission has jurisdiction, under Section 239-m (Article 12-B) of New York State General Municipal Law, and Article XVI, Sections 1606-1608 of Nassau County Law, to review zoning actions referred by local governments. The purpose of the Commission's review is to provide input on actions that may have an impact across municipal boundaries, or that may be of area-wide significance and therefore require coordination among municipalities. The Commission is also concerned with those actions that will have a direct impact on County and State facilities.

Commonly asked questions about zoning in Nassau County are presented and answered below.

What is zoning?
Zoning can be defined generally as the division of a municipality's land into districts, and the establishment of regulations controlling the use, bulk, and intensity of what may be placed on the land within each district. Restrictions are generally placed on: 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, parking, and the location and use of buildings, structures and land for trade, industry, residence, or other purposes.

What is the Planning Commission's role in the zoning process?
As mentioned above, any city, town, or village located in Nassau County must, before taking final action on specific proposed zoning changes (explained below), refer the proposed change to the Planning Commission for review. The Commission reviews non-residential projects and substantial residential subdivisions. The Planning Commission then makes a recommendation to the referring body on how to proceed.

Which zoning matters referred to the Planning Commission?
All actions proposed for sites within 500 feet of County or State roads and/or rights-of-way, parks, and other facilities, municipal boundaries, or County drainage channels are subject to referral requirements and must be reviewed by the Planning Commission.

What are examples of zoning matters referred to the Planning Commission?
Examples of actions referred to the Planning Commission are: 

Adoption or amendment of a comprehensive plan
Adoption or amendment of a zoning ordinance or local law
Zoning map amendment (change of zone) Issuance of special use permits
Approval of site plans
Granting of use or area variances
Other authorizations which a referring body may issue under the provisions of any zoning ordinance or local law

What type of recommendation does the Planning Commission make?
Once the Commission has reviewed a proposed action, it will draw one of four conclusions: The referring body should require modifications to the action before approving it (through resolution) The referring body should disapprove the action (through resolution) The Commission leaves the matter entirely up to the referring agency (local determination) as such action is deemed acceptable by the Commission (through resolution)  

How does the Planning Commission make a recommendation?
In making a recommendation, the Commission considers a variety of factors, including compatibility of land uses, traffic generation, aesthetics, and impacts on surrounding communities.

How soon does the Planning Commission issue recommendations?
The Planning Commission is required to issue its recommendations within 30 days of receipt of an application from the referring municipality.

Can the referring body rule against the Planning Commission's recommendation?
Yes. However, if the Commission recommends denial or modification of an application, the municipality must have a supermajority vote (majority plus one) to approve it.