Now more than ever, climate resiliency along our coastlines is an important aspect of long range municipal planning. Back in 1981, the New York State Legislature enacted the Waterfront Revitalization of Coastal Areas and Inland Waterways Act, N.Y. Exec. Law § 910. (the “NYS Coastal and Waterways Act”).
Coastal communities and communities on designated inland waterways are eligible to participate in the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program. Coastal communities are communities on the Long Island Sound, the Atlantic Ocean, New York Harbor and the waters around New York City, the Hudson River, the Great Lakes, Niagara River or the St. Lawrence River; eligible communities on designated inland waterways include communities located on an inland waterbody, such as a major lake, river or the State Canal, or other inland waterway designated by Article 42 of the Executive Law.
Among other things, the NYS Coastal and Waterways Act encourages local governments to participate in the State’s coastal management efforts by submitting local waterfront revitalization programs (“LWRPs”) to the Secretary of the DOS for approval. See N.Y. Exec. Law § 915(1). Under the Act, any local government, which has any portion of its jurisdiction contiguous to the state’s coastal waters or inland waterways may submit an LWRP to the Secretary of State. See, NYS Guidebook. If an LWRP is approved by the Secretary , state agency actions in that municipality must also “be consistent to the maximum extent practicable with the local program.” Id. at § 915(8).
Unfortunately, the Act is silent regarding the relationship between the LWRP and local comprehensive land use plans and zoning. However, to ensure that local development and waterfront revitalization plans are appropriately integrated into the local land use planning and zoning regulatory framework, many municipalities have incorporated their approved LWRPs into zoning regulations. As a result, the LWRP policy document may serve as a legal foundation for zoning changes in part, due to their incorporation into the comprehensive plan. By doing so, municipalities are able to effectively provide implementation mechanisms that support the principles and goals delineated in the waterfront plan through the use of their zoning powers. See generally, Bonnie Briar Syndicate, Inc. v. Town of Mamaroneck, 94 N.Y.2d 96, (1999),
The Department of State’s Division of Local Government provides training assistance to municipalities relating to zoning procedures in addition to other practical legal and technical advise. See, www.dos.state.ny.us/lgss.