Model Ordinances

New York State Model Solar Energy Law– View Sustainable CUNY’s model solar energy law and toolkit for communties at: 

January 2017
Chautauqua County Design Principles Guidebook

by Randall Arendt

Just thought I’d share with you a very readable and highly-illustrated visioning report I prepared for Chautauqua County NY a few years ago, depicting various development options, as it might be helpful to planners in upstate NY. It is divided into five sections, residential in-town and rural, town centers and highway corridors, plus a case study of a rural business park.

Chautauqua County Design Principles and Guidebook

January 2007
Model Ordinance of the Month

The Planning Federation has developed a Model Training Resolution that communities can use or modify to begin the training of local planning and zoning board members, as required now under New York Law. 
Model Link of the Month
The New York Department of State also has a Sample Training Resolution as well as a Sample Personal Training Record on its Web site at:

December 2006
Model Ordinance of the Month

Many communities today have concerns about proposed “Big Box” development that they feel may be too large or out-of-scale for their communities. The Home Town Advantage – part of the Institute for Self-Reliance – has taken a prominent role in helping communities to evaluate and limit the size of such development. Their website offers a 7-part “Community Protection Policy Kit that addresses common questions and provides examples of communities with store size caps and a model size cap ordinance. 
You can find these resources at:

November 2006
Model Ordinance/ Resource of the Month

One of NYPF’s featured speakers at the Fall conference – Michael Klemens of the Metropolitan Conservation Alliance – spoke persuasively of the need for effective approaches to habitat protection. The Town of Milan has recently adopted the Milan Habitat Assessment Guidelines (by Greenplan) to help it flag and protect significant biological resources as part of the development process. 
Model Link of the Month
Hudsonia produced a very well-reviewed publication in 2001 for Hudson River Valley municipalities interested in inventorying important plant and animal habitats, entitled Biological Assessment Manual for the Hudson River Estuary Corridor. A good excerpt from it called General Conservation Measures for Protecting Biodiversity can be found at:
Additional excellent publications on planning and zoning for biodiversity can be found at the website for the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies

October 2006
Model Ordinance/ Resource of the Month

The model resource (including ordinance) of the month is NYSERDA’s new “A Municipal Official’s Guide to Diesel Idling Reduction,” 
Thisguide is the first of its kind in the nation. It is co-produced by NYSERDA and NYPF and intended to assist local officials in making land use decisions that will promote the use of new technologies that reduce diesel idling.
Model Link of the Month
The model link of the month is the EPA’s SmartWay Transport Partnership –
A partnership between the EPA and the freight industry to reduce emissions from heavy-duty truck and locomotive idling. Local officials will find this program interesting as well.

September 2006
Model Ordinance/ Resource of the Month

The model ordinance/resource of the month is the 2006 Department of State publication Municipal Control of Signs, which provides a thorough treatment of local signage control and a good sample sign matrix and permit applications.

August 2006
Model Ordinance/ Resource of the Month
Subdivision Ordinance

The model ordinance for August is Saratoga Springs’ Conservation Subdivision ordinance, which features straight-forward, user-friendly language and many helpful illustrations. The city reports that the ordinance is being used successfully, providing significant new protected open space. The city is looking to further improve the ordinance with added graphics to provide better guidance on clustering of dwellings.
Model Link of the Month
Here is a link to guidelines for when and how to use conservation subdivisions. While the perspective is primarily from a rural perspective, conservation subdivisions can also be used in suburban areas. While the article provides a balanced perspective of pros and cons, we feel that the example of “poor” cluster design could, in fact, be “good” cluster design, depending on local preservation and development goals.”

July, 2006
Community Survey

This simple model survey is intended for rural to suburban communities to use (or adapted for use) at the beginning of a comprehensive plan process. A community survey is intended to assess the needs and concerns of the public to help local decision-makers best plan to guide future growth, development and preservation.
Model Link of the Month
State of the Region: Buffalo-Niagara Indicators Project
Some communities are evaluating the performance of their comprehensive plans by developing ‘indicators’ that measure changes in a variety of environmental, social and economic factors over time. Here is a link to a nationally-recognized New York example of what one region has done to measure its progress. Cities, towns and villages can develop indicators to measure progress towards their own plans’ specific goals and objectives. 
Read more here:

June, 2006
Model Ordinance/ Resource of the Month

Increasingly, local governments throughout New York State are using a land tool that has had widespread application in the New York metropolitan area and Hudson Valley – the moratorium. Hailed by those who want to slow down growth, and feared by supporters of development, the rules governing the use of this tool are not always well understood. 
Model Link of the Month
The “Land Use Moratoria” document in the James A. Coon Local Government Technical Series provides background on the genesis of the law and the conditions under which it is typically adopted. 
Read more here:

May, 2006
Model Ordinance/ Resource of the Month
Model Historic Preservation Ordinance
Preservation League of New York State

This excellent model is intended to apply to designated historic districts (federal, state or local), but could be adapted to apply to individual historic buildings and sites as well. 
Model Link of the Month
NY Department of State, Local Government Division
James E. Coon Technical Series

This series of short guides on a wide variety of planning and zoning topics in New York has been a wonderful resource to communities for years, though some communities are not yet familiar with them. 

Topics addressed include:

  • Local Government Handbook
  • Legal Memoranda
  • SEQR Handbook: SEQR and Local Government
    Land Use Technical Series:
  • Guide to Planning and Zoning Laws of New York State
  • Adopting Zoning for the First Time
  • Controlling Junk
  • Creating the Community You Want: Municipal Options for Land Use Control
  • Governmental Immunity from Zoning
  • Guidelines for Applicants to the Zoning Board of Appeals
  • Legal Aspects of Municipal Historic Preservation
  • Local Laws and Agricultural Districts: How Do They Relate?
  • Local Open Space Planning Guide
  • Municipal Control of Signs
  • Municipal Regulation of Mobile Homes
  • Planning and Design Manual for the Review of Applications for Wireless Telecommunications Facilities
  • Questions for the Analysis and Evaluation of Existing Zoning Regulations
  • Record Keeping Tips for Zoning Administration
  • Site Development Plan Review Procedure and Guidelines
  • Stormwater Management Design Manual
  • Stormwater Management Guidance Manual for Local Officials
  • Wind Energy Tool Kit
  • Zoning Board of Appeals
  • Zoning and the Comprehensive Plan
  • Zoning Enforcement for Towns and Villages

Local Laws and Charters:

  • Adopting Local Laws
  • Local Law Filing Forms
  • Land Use Moratoria
  • Revising City Charters

Local Government Cooperation:

  • The Consolidation of Local Government
  • Consolidation for Towns and Villages
  • Implications of a Village Dissolution
  • Intergovernmental Cooperation
  • Municipal Service Alternatives: Villages of Carthage and West Carthage, New York

General Local Government Information:

  • Administration and Enforcement of the Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code
  • Conducting Public Meetings and Public Hearings
  • Your Right to Know: New York State’s Open Government Laws
    Online Plans, Publications and Laws (not part of Coon Technical Series)
  • Opportunities Waiting to Happen: A Guidebook for Redeveloping Abandoned Buildings and Sites to Revitalize Communities
  • Making the Most of Your Waterfronts: Enhancing Waterfronts to Revitalize Communities
  • Smart Development for Quality Communities Series
  • Local Government Restructuring Web Site
  • The Rural Design Workbook: Rethinking Conventional Development
  • Schoharie Main Street and Gateways: Realizing the Vision
  • Town and Village of Schoharie Comprehensive Plan