The Town of Dover has a seven member Planning Board, headed by co-chairs.
The Board conducts a monthly workshop where applications are reviewed and an agenda is set in preparation of the regular monthly meeting.
Meetings take place:
the 1st and 3rd Monday of the month
at 7:00pm at Town Hall
(845)832-6111 x 100
Members: (1 Vacancy)
Master Plan | Zoning Law | Land Subdivision Regulations and Plat Approval
Sight Plan Review and Approval | Special Permit Review | SEQRA
Planning Board Role
The planning board upholds and implements the community's development policies through the review and approval of, among other things, subdivision plats, site plans and special permit applications.
The board also reports on all matters referred to it by the local legislative body, including amendments to the zoning ordinance and the adoption of official maps.
In carrying out their charge, planning boards make decisions that change neighborhoods and landscapes.
Each choice can add to or detract from the character of a village, town or city, and some decisions even have effects beyond municipal boundaries.
Decisions the Board makes also sets precedents for future actions.
These decisions should involve determining what is best for the community as a whole, rather than reacting to each proposal as if it were an isolated action.
Planning boards utilize tools, including comprehensive or master plans, zoning laws, and subdivision regulations to ensure that changes made are for the better.
For details on planning and zoning law, consult the Guide to the Planning and Zoning Laws of New York State, 2001, prepared by the Division of Local Government Services of the New York State Department of State.
Their website is: http://www.dos.state.ny.us/lgss/planzone.html
The Tools of Planning
Several tools are available to a community in its efforts to foster sound development.
A review of these tools should serve to further clarify the planning board's role:
The Master Plan
As a statement of development policy, the comprehensive plan or (master plan) is a guide to decisions concerning the development of the community.
It sets forth ideas about how the community is expected to grow over a 10- to 20-year period.
The preparation of the comprehensive plan by the group appointed by the legislative body which typically involves the municipal planning board, focuses on: preparing a statement of goals and objectives regarding the future direction of development; undertaking a basic study and analysis of the community's history, population, economy, potential for growth under existing zoning, base map preparation and existing land use mapping; and, conducting any necessary reevaluation of the original goals and objectives based on what is learned from the studies undertaken.
To be effective, the comprehensive plan must be a working document, continually consulted by the planning board, zoning board of appeals and legislative body in the exercise of their duties. Any finding and decision by these boards should be supported by the plan and its policies. The current Town of Dover Master Plan was adopted in 1993 and amended in 1999. It is available for review in the Town Hall.
Zoning in New York State (NYS) is established under NYS General City, Town and Village Law as an exercise of the municipality's legal authority. It is designed to protect the health, safety, morals and general welfare of the community. It is the most commonly used means for carrying out a community's land use plan.
Zoning may be defined as the division of a municipality's land area into districts, and the establishment of regulations controlling the use, bulk (size) and intensity of what may be placed on the land within each district. The division of land into districts constitutes the zoning map; the establishment of regulations for each district is the text of the zoning law itself. The map is an integral part of the entire law. The Town of Dover's Zoning Code is available for review at www.generalcode.com or in the Town Hall.
Land Subdivision Regulations and Plat Approval
When a tract of land is divided into smaller parts, the process is known as subdividing. The subdivision of land, whereby property is cut into lots, blocks or sites with or without streets, is controlled by subdivision regulations.
The power and authority to control subdivisions has been delegated under state law to municipal governments. The purpose of such controls is to ensure that the conversion of raw land into development sites is done in an orderly manner, and that the necessary public facilities, such as streets and water and sewer facilities, are provided in accordance with municipal standards.
The review of subdivisions is usually assigned by the governing body of a municipality to its planning board. To effectuate that power, the planning board must prepare and enact a set of regulations. The regulations are subject to public hearing after which the planning board can formally adopt said regulations. The legislative body must then approve them. After approval, the planning board administers the regulation and grants approval to applications that comply with established rules and regulations.
There are generally three stages to the subdivision review process:
1. Sketch plan review affords the applicant an opportunity to meet with the planning board to present a very general conceptual idea and obtain feedback.
2. The applicant must submit a preliminary plat showing the layout of lots, roads, open spaces, utility and drainage facilities and approximate dimensions, including preliminary plans and profiles.
3. Applicants must submit a final plat that shows the subdivision layout and other elements contained in the preliminary plat in greater detail. Any changes required by the planning board at the time of preliminary plat approval are incorporated.
Public hearings are often held at both the preliminary and final plat stages. However, the statutes require only one hearing. Other hearings are optional.
Subdivision regulations include provisions and procedures related to several factors:
1. The extent to which the proposed development or subdivision conforms to the existing zoning regulations, the recommendations of the master plan, the sites shown on the official map, and the physical design of the streets as related to topography.
2. The various physical design standards used by the municipality, such as maximum grades, street widths, sight distances, maximum lengths of cul-de-sacs, cul-de-sac turnaround radii, and minimum lot frontage.
3. The installation of needed physical improvements, including sewers, streetlights, fire hydrants, sidewalks, streets and public recreation.
Site Plan Review and Approval
Since not all proposed development involves the subdivision of property, a process called site plan review is used to carefully assess certain types of building proposals.
A site plan is a detailed drawing showing the location of principal and accessory structures, parking areas, access points, screening, drainage, utilities, landscaping, signs and other design features of a proposed building or development.
In most cases, either the zoning ordinance or a local law specifies the types of uses subject to site plan review.
Generally, site plan review is required for commercial, industrial and multi-family development, as well as for special uses such as churches or other institutions.
In determining whether to approve or disapprove site plans, the planning board may utilize a checklist which states the criteria upon which the merits of the proposal may be judged.
Criteria and standards should be expressed in the municipal regulations.
Items set forth in the regulations generally relate to legal data, impact on surrounding properties, natural features of the site, existing development, site utilities, and proposed development.
The municipal regulations should indicate what is expected of the applicant and ensure a consistent approach to the evaluation of projects that are subject to site plan review.
The purpose and objectives of the site plan process should be clearly set forth, as well as clarification about submission requirements and procedures.
Local regulations must state what will be subject to site plan review, what site plan review will be used for, and how the process will be conducted.
For a comprehensive review of site plans, consult Site Development Plan Review: Procedures and Guidelines, prepared by the New York State Department of State.
Special Permit Review
Most municipal zoning laws allow certain uses, "permitted uses" in a zoning district as-of-right, with no discretionary review of the proposal.
However, certain uses may require a closer look to ensure that the proposal will not have a detrimental affect on the surrounding area.
Such uses may be required to apply for a special permit, sometimes referred to as a special use permit or conditional use permit.
A special permit is applied for and granted by the reviewing board, which in the Town of Dover is the planning board if the proposal meets the special permit standards outlined in the municipality's zoning law.
Typically, these standards are designed to avoid potential negative impacts of the proposed project with surrounding land uses, and will include standards for traffic impacts, lighting, landscaping, hours of operation, etc.
State statutes prescribe the procedure for all special permit applications.
State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA)
Since 1978, local governments have been responsible for implementing the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA).
This legislation ensures that environmental factors will be granted the same weight as social and economic factors in the decision-making process.
It also provides a means of formal communication between governmental agencies and the private sector during the scoping and public comment periods and public hearings.
Some development proposals are located in an area, or are of a scale such that the construction or operation of the project could have an adverse effect on the environment.
The State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) requires that an environmental review be conducted before any municipal, county or state agency may approve, fund or undertake a project.
The purpose of SEQRA is to ensure that environmental factors including impacts on humans are taken into consideration early in the design and review phases of a proposed project.
The SEQRA process requires development review agencies to consider the potential environmental impacts of a proposed project prior to issuing a permit or approval and also provides a forum through which the general public may review and comment on proposed projects.
It is the intent of SEQRA that the decisions of development review agencies be based on a suitable balance of social, economic and environmental factors.