Model Local Laws to Increase Resilience

Model Local Laws to Increase Resilience

New Yorkers are at increased risk from the effects of climate change and extreme-weather events.

Recognizing this risk, the Department of State worked with the Department of Environmental Conservation and other partners to create model local laws to help local governments be more resilient to sea-level rise, storm surge, and flooding.

Cities, towns, and villages are invited to adapt model local laws to meet the resilience needs of the community with the assistance of their municipal attorneys. The publication is presented below in five chapters, each with a variety of methods to increase resiliency, as well as narrative explaining those methods.

Model Local Laws to Increase Resilience (Full Document - Chapters 1-2, 4-5; 468 pages)

Chapter 1: Basic Land Use Tools for Resiliency (pdf)

Zoning allows a community to target regulations to areas at risk from damage due to human actions, sea-level rise, storm surge, and flooding.  It may be used to avoid development in hazardous areas; reduce community storm impacts; conserve natural protective features; and control development densities to reduce impacts and facilitate recovery. Without adequate zoning or other basic tools like site plan and subdivision review, development and redevelopment can continue in ways that place people, property, and critical infrastructure at risk from climate-induced sea-level rise, storm damage, and flooding.

Part 1 (.docx)

1.Basic Land Use Tools for Resiliency
1.1Zoning Districts
1.1.1Waterfront Zoning District
1.1.2Waterfront Overlay District
1.1.3Waterfront Bluff Overlay District
1.14Transfer of Development Rights
1.2Height, Bulk, and Area Regulations
1.2.1Minimum Lot Size
1.2.2Maximum Building Height
1.2.3Maximum Lot Coverage
1.2.4Setbacks

Part 2 (.docx)

1.3Nonconformance
1.3.1Prohibit Substantial Improvements to Nonconforming Uses or Structures in Flood Prone Areas
1.3.2Nonconformance of Impermeable Surface Coverage
1.4Zoning for Post-Disaster Activities
1.4.1Temporary Emergency Dwelling Permits
1.4.2Emergency Staging Bases
1.4.3Temporary Mobile Office Units
1.4.4Building Elevation
1.4.4.1Design Requirements for Elevated Buildings
1.4.4.2Non-Conversion Agreements
1.4.5Phased Reconstruction Moratorium

Part 3 (.docx)

1.5Subdivision Regulations
1.5.1Subdivision in Flood Prone Areas
1.5.2Consideration of Long-Term Risk
1.5.3Drainage Improvements in a Subdivision
1.5.4Protection of Natural Features in a Subdivision
1.5.4.1Design Standards to Protect Natural Features
1.5.4.2Subdivision Woodlands
1.5.5Lot Yield Calculations
1.5.5.1Simple Density Calculation
1.5.5.2Buildable Yield Formula
1.5.6Cluster, Open Space and Conservation Development
1.5.7Environmental Constraint Disclosures
1.6Site Plan Review
1.6.1Stormwater Site Design Plans
1.6.2Encroachments on Drainageways

Chapter 2: Wetland and Watercourse Protection Measures (pdf)

Watercourses are integral parts of the landscape that carry water and sediment from headwaters to downstream lakes, estuaries, and the ocean. Watercourse flooding usually involves a slow buildup of water and a gradual inundation of surrounding land. The presence of non- intact floodplains, wetlands, and forests contributes to a slower release of this stormwater buildup and helps to mitigate damaging peak flows of water. Local governments can increase their resilience to flooding by protecting watercourses, floodplains, wetlands, and the marine coast. They can adopt local laws to define wetlands; and regulate activities that may affect floodplains, watercourses, marine coastal shorelines and freshwater and tidal wetlands and their buffers. These laws can address the need to absorb floodwater and reduce risk; and adjust to changes expected from increased precipitation, storm surges, and sea-level rise.

Part 1 (.docx)

2.Wetland and Watercourse Protection Measures
2.1Wetland Protection
2.1.1Simple Wetland Setbacks
2.1.2Wetlands Buffer
2.1.3Wetland Conservation Overlay District
2.1.4Local Freshwater Wetland Law

Part 2 (.docx)

2.Wetland and Watercourse Protection Measures
2.2Watercourse Protection
2.2.1Simple Watercourse Setbacks
2.2.2Stream-Related Zoning Standards
2.2.3Watercourse Overlay District
2.2.4Local Watercourse Law

Chapter 3: Coastal Shoreline Protection Measures (pdf)

Coastal shorelines are inherently dynamic environments, shaped over time by winds, waves, tides and currents, as well as human activities. Increasing sea levels will result in more frequent and extensive storm flooding, and over the long term could mean permanent inundation in some areas. This chapter provides several models for local governments to adopt to preserve the natural protective aspects of shorelines, and to limit the impacts to the built environment.

Part 1 (.docx)

3.Coastal Shoreline Protection Measures
3.1Coastal Erosion
3.1.1Coastal Erosion Hazard Area Management
3.1.2Alternative Coastal Erosion Hazard Area Management Model
3.1.3Shoreline Protection Outside of Coastal Erosion Hazard Areas

Part 2 (.docx)

3.Coastal Shoreline Protection Measures
3.2Coastal Setbacks
3.2.1Fixed Setback
3.2.2Tiered Setback
3.2.3Erosion-Based Setback
3.2.4Erosion and Lot Depth-Based Setback

Part 3 (.docx)

3.Coastal Shoreline Protection Measures
3.3Basic Protections for Dunes, Beaches and Coastal Vegetation
3.3.1Coastal Vegetative Buffers
3.3.2Maximum Disturbance Areas
3.3.3Design Standards for Dune Walkovers
3.4Shoreline Management Alternatives
3.4.1Special Use Permit Alternatives Analysis
3.4.2Shoreline “Reach” Analysis to Designate Overlay Zones
3.5Beach Erosion Control Districts
3.6Emergency Activities

Chapter 4: Management of Floodplain Development (pdf)

When floodplains are altered, the ability of floodplains to absorb floodwaters and reduce risk from a flood is diminished. Development within a floodplain can make flooding and flood damage more severe and extensive. Nearly all municipalities in New York have flood damage prevention laws which are a critical component of reducing municipal risk from damaging floods, and a critical requirement that must be met to qualify municipalities for the National Flood Insurance Program. Laws that govern the use, siting, design, construction, and maintenance practices in floodplain areas can complement flood damage prevention laws and help manage floodplain development and to limit damage from flooding.

Part 1 (.docx)

4.Management of Floodplain Development
4.1Limit Development in 100-Year or 500-Year Floodplain
4.2Floodplain and Wetland Resource Conservation Overlay District
4.3.1County Administration of Flood Damage Prevention Law
4.3.2Establishing a Design Flood Elevation

Part 2 (.docx)

4.Management of Floodplain Development
4.3.3Compensatory Storage
4.3.4Repetitive Damage
4.3.5Cumulative Substantial Improvement
4.3.6Protection of Critical Facilities
4.3.7Areas Behind Levees or Below High Hazard Dams
4.3.8Dry Land Access
4.4State Model Flood Damage Prevention Laws

Chapter 5: Stormwater Control Measures (pdf)

Stormwater is an important water resource, recharging groundwater as it makes its way to lakes and streams. However, land development often eliminates features that moderate stormwater runoff, exposing soil to erosion, limiting natural absorption, and increasing pollutants in runoff. Instead of a valuable resource, stormwater becomes a costly and sometimes dangerous problem. This chapter provides several models for local governments to adopt to meet or exceed their responsibilities for managing stormwater under state and federal law.

Part 1 (.docx)

5.Stormwater Control Measures
5.1Steep Slopes
5.1.1Lot Frontage and Driveways on Steep Slopes
5.1.2Steep Slope and Erosion Control Performance Standards
5.1.3Steep Slope Protection Overlay District
5.2Stormwater Management and Reducing Impervious Surfaces
5.3Mitigation for Failure to Reduce Impermeable Surface Coverage

Part 2 (.docx)

5.Stormwater Control Measures
5.4Erosion and Sediment Control and Stormwater Management
5.4.1Model Stormwater Management and Erosion & Sediment Control with Plug-in Provisions for Impaired Waters and Enhanced Phosphorus Removal Watersheds
5.4.2Model Stormwater Management and Erosion and Sediment Control Law with Additional Provisions for Community Resiliency
5.4.3Erosion and Sediment Control Law with Stream Corridor Management Provisions
5.5Stormwater Utility

To share a local law you think would be a good addition to the publication, or to comment on the model laws, send an email to the Department of State’s Office of Planning, Development and Community Infrastructure.

Additional Information

Community Risk and Resiliency Act:

Guidance for Local Governments on Takings Law and Moratoria

Selecting the Right Laws: How to Use the Model Local Laws

Resilience: Implementation and Strategic Enhancements (RISE) Local Assessment Tool