The Zoning & Subdivision Regulatory Review division handles the administration of the municipal referral process for the Suffolk County Planning Commission
(zoning, subdivision). The section also maintains the County's open space transfer of development rights program and provides other professional services to the municipalities in the county.
Article XIV of the Charter of the Suffolk County Code establishes and defines the powers, duties and responsibilities of the Suffolk County Planning Department and defines the membership, member qualifications and member terms of the Suffolk County Planning Commission. The Charter mandates that the head of the Planning Department shall be the Planning Director who shall be appointed by the County Executive subject to the approval of the County Legislature and shall serve at the pleasure of the County Executive.The Suffolk County Planning Commission meets on the first Wednesday of every month. The minutes of the Commission meeting are approved at the next successive Commission meeting.
Article XIV of the Administrative Code of the Suffolk County Code stipulates the administration of County Planning. The Administrative Code requires the Planning Commission to hold an organizational meeting of the Planning Commission by the 15th day of February each year and to select a Chairman at that meeting. At its organizational meeting the Commission is required to adopt rules to govern Commission proceedings and to adopt rules to govern the administration and functioning of the Planning Department. A majority of the total membership of the Planning Commission constitutes a quorum. Resolutions of the Planning Commission are adopted by a majority vote of the total membership with a few exceptions. An affirmative vote of two-thirds of the total membership of the Planning Commission was required for the final adoption of the Comprehensive Plan and is required for any amendment to the Comprehensive Plan. Any resolution disapproving a new zoning ordinance or amendment of a zoning ordinance relating to any portion of a municipality within 500 feet of a municipal boundary requires a two- thirds vote of the County Planning Commission.
The Administrative Code allows the Planning Commission, as it deems appropriate, to recommend a comprehensive zoning plan or any other recommendations involving the performance of the planning function by towns or villages. The Planning Commission may, on request of any town or village in Suffolk County, furnish the town or village with requested planning service.
Each town and village in Suffolk County that has the jurisdiction to adopt or amend zoning regulations, issue special permits and variances, or approve subdivision plats and condominiums must refer to the Suffolk County Planning Commission any municipal zoning/subdivision action that would affect real property lying within one mile of an airport or within five hundred feet from:
The boundary of any village or town;
The boundary of any existing or proposed county, state or federal park or other recreation area;
The right-of-way of any existing or proposed county or state parkway, thruway, expressway, road or highway;
Existing or proposed right-of-way of any stream or drainage channel owned by the county or for which the county has established channel lines;
The existing or proposed boundary of any other county, state, or federally owned land held or to be held for governmental use; or
The Atlantic Ocean, Long Island Sound, any bay in Suffolk County or estuary of any of the foregoing bodies of water; or which would change the district classification of or the regulations applying to real property lying wholly or partially within the Suffolk County Pine Barrens Zone as described in the Charter.
The Suffolk County Planning Commission must act upon the referral of a municipal zoning/subdivision action within 45 days of receipt of a full statement of the proposed action. The commission may, by resolution, either approve the proposed action without change, approve the action with modifications, approve the action subject to conditions or disapprove the proposed action. All decisions by the Commission (except approvals) must be accompanied by a report which explicitly states the reasons for the Commission's decisions which will help the municipality form its own judgment as to the action the municipality should take on the action. If the Planning Commission does not act upon a proposed municipal zoning action within the 45 day period then the action shall be deemed to have been approved. The Suffolk County Planning Commission participates in SUPP and posts staff reports as part of an effort toward open and transparent government.
When the Planning Commission approves a proposed zoning/subdivision action, the municipality may adopt the action in the ordinary course of municipal business. When the Planning Commission disapproves the action or approves the action with changes or conditions, then the municipality may do one of two things. The municipality can amend the proposed action in accordance with the Planning Commission's recommendations and adopt it in the ordinary course of municipal business. If the municipality declines to adopt one or all of the Commission's recommendations it can adopt the original proposal in a resolution that explicitly sets forth its reasons for not adopting the Planning Commission's recommendations. A Suffolk County Planning Commission disapproval can be over ridden upon an affirmative vote of a majority plus one of the entire membership of the referring body.
A state agency having a statutory responsibility involving air pollution, water pollution or estuarine values may interpose an objection with the County Planning Commission to any proposed zoning action referred to the Commission. Upon the objection of a state agency, the Planning Commission must schedule a hearing on the action. The Planning Commission must include the objection by the state agency with appropriate comments and recommendations addressing the state's concerns within it's report on the proposed action.
The County Planning Commission's primary interest in conducting its review is to protect the public interest and investment. It also provides local officials with the benefits of the planning expertise of the County Planning Department staff and the views of the County Planning Commission on inter-municipal and area-wide impacts of proposed municipal actions. If there are any questions on the above procedures, contact the County Planning Department at (631) 853-5191. The Commission has adopted the Suffolk County Planning Commission Guidebook as its rules and regulations relating to subdivision plat referral procedures and design.
The Planning Department provides advice and technical assistance to municipalities on planning matters. The requests most often made are for subdivision design, traffic circulation and parking layouts, innovative design and planning techniques, sample zoning and land use control methods, sample formats for draft ordinances, and land use analysis.
The Suffolk County Planning & Environment Division performs certain functions which enable the proper advice to the Suffolk County Planning Commission on the impacts of municipal and private actions upon facilities owned by the county and state and impacts upon the county, at large. The Planning and Research Section (also known as Information Resources) supplies data on the demographic, economic and social characteristics of Suffolk County and its municipalities and supplies assistance on economic development matters. The Environmental Analysis Section provides assistance to government agencies and the public regarding coastal activities such as estuary management, flooding, erosion, fisheries, wetlands, rivers and bays. The Suffolk County Council on Environmental Quality reviews all county actions for compliance with the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) and local environmental laws.