Land Use Training & Certification School


The New York Municipal Insurance Reciprocal (NYMIR) Land Use Training Program for Local Government Officials is an online training program designed to teach the basics of New York land use law. The program is made available to governmental officials, planning and zoning board members, municipal risk managers and others for noncommercial purposes. It has nine tutorials and quizzes and a glossary with links to definitions and various New York State statutes.

The program is administered by the Pace University Land Use Law Center and the New York Planning Federation. 

Zoning School Frequently Asked Questions

This program contains nine lessons, each covering a different aspect of law and practice applicable to the work of local land use boards. It allows local governments to self-certify their boards when the board has satisfactorily completed five (50 of the nine (|9) lessons).

1. Why should our local boards be certified?
Certification lets the public know that your local boards are knowledgeable about the land use and legal issues involved in the decisions they make regularly. In addition, in 2007, the NYS legislature established minimum training requirements of four (4) hours annually for municipal planning and zoning boards. The certification program is one of several ways in which local boards can meet the new training requirements. Local governing bodies decide what type of training their boards will receive each year.

2. Which local boards may participate?
Planning boards, ZBAs, town boards, city councils and village boards of trustees may all participate. In addition, special purpose groups such as CACs or comprehensive planning committees may also take part in the program. Finally, zoning officers, CEOs and municipal attorneys may participate. However, the state legistation only requires annual training for planning boards and ZBAs.

3. Who is responsible for certifying each local board?
A designated official from each participating board is responsible for obtaining tutorials, testing, and certifying the board. No special training is needed for this person, other than the directions provided in the tutorial package.

4. How can I obtain the tutorials?
The attached downloads may be obtained free of charge. Should your municipality wish to purchase a hard-copy version, this is available with a CD from the New York Planning Federation (go to the “NYPF Bookstore” to order). There is a charge of $50.00 plus $5.00 s/h for the hard-copy binder and CD. Copies of the tutorials may be made by municipalities, provided they are not used for commercial purposes. There are no other fees associated with the program or certification.

5. How many tutorials are there?
There are nine different tutorials:

  • Zoning – The Basics
  • Comprehensive Planning
  • Subdivision Regulations
  • Site Plan Approvals and Conditions
  • Variances
  • Special Use Permits
  • Environmental Review
  • Local Board Procedures and Decisions
  • Strategic Local Laws

6. How many tutorials does my board need to complete?
Your planning board or ZBA needs to complete a total of five (5) tutorials, although some local boards choose to complete all nine (9).

7. Can this program be used to satisfy the new training requirement?
Yes. For purposes of meeting the NYS training requirement, the program will count for four training hours.

8. Can I work on a different set of tutorials than another member?
This is the board’s decision. Members should take the courses that round out their experience and teach them subjects they need to know to be productive members of their particular board.

9. Where are the questions and answers?
The questions are located at the end of the tutorials. A separate answer sheet is included with the tutorials.

10. Who grades the exams?
The designated official should grade the exams. That person should keep a record of which members have successfully completed the tutorials, and testing dates.

11. How many members need to pass the program?
All board members must complete and pass the program for the board to be certified.

12. What is a passing score?

A passing score is 80% or eight (8) out of ten (10) questions answered correctly.

13. Is there a second chance to re-test?
Yes. Members who do not pass the first time may re-take the exam whenever they are ready. However, the certification request should not be submitted until all board members have successfully passed.

14. How long is certification good for?
Certification is good for one year. Turnover in board members and new planning and zoning information that becomes available make periodic re-certification beneficial.

15. How does my board receive certification?

Send the name of your board and municipality (i.e., “Planning Board, City of Albany) to the NYPF, One Columbia Place, Albany, NY 12207 or email the information to Lael Locke. You will receive a certificate that should then be filed with the muncipal clerk’s office as part of the planning board or ZBA’s training record.

16. Who should I call with any questions?
Please call us at 518-512-5270.

17. How can our board receive more in-depth training?
The tutorials are intended to provide basic knowledge in planning and zoning law. The New York Planning Federation holds both an annual three-day conference and offers specific on-site training for more advanced topics. Please visit www.nypf.org for training opportunities or email nypf@nypf.org for more information on training tailored to your municipal needs.