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.

Model Local Laws to Increase Resilience (Full Document - Chapters 1-2, 4-5; 341 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
1.1     Zoning Districts
1.1.1   Waterfront Zoning District
1.1.2   Waterfront Overlay District
1.1.3   Waterfront Bluff Overlay District
1.14     Transfer of Development Rights     
1.2     Height, Bulk, and Area Regulations
1.2.1   Minimum Lot Size
1.2.2   Maximum Building Height
1.2.3   Maximum Lot Coverage      
1.2.4   Setbacks

Part 2 (.docx)

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

Part 3 (.docx)

1.5     Subdivision Regulations
1.5.1   Subdivision in Flood Prone Areas
1.5.2   Consideration of Long-Term Risk
1.5.3   Drainage Improvements in a Subdivision    
1.5.4   Protection of Natural Features in a Subdivision
1.5.4.1 Design Standards to Protect Natural Features
1.5.4.2 Subdivision Woodlands
1.5.5   Lot Yield Calculations
1.5.5.1 Simple Density Calculation
1.5.5.2 Buildable Yield Formula
1.5.6   Cluster, Open Space and Conservation Development
1.5.7   Environmental Constraint Disclosures
1.6     Site Plan Review
1.6.1   Stormwater Site Design Plans
1.6.2   Encroachments 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
2.1     Wetland Protection
2.1.1   Simple Wetland Setbacks
2.1.2   Wetlands Buffer
2.1.3   Wetland Conservation Overlay District
2.1.4   Local Freshwater Wetland Law

Part 2 (.docx)

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

Chapter 3: Coastal Shoreline Protection Measures – Coming Summer 2019

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.

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

Part 2 (.docx)

4.       Management of Floodplain Development
4.3.3   Compensatory Storage
4.3.4   Repetitive Damage
4.3.5   Cumulative Substantial Improvement
4.3.6   Protection of Critical Facilities
4.3.7   Areas Behind Levees or Below High Hazard Dams
4.3.8   Dry Land Access
4.4     State 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
5.1      Steep Slopes
5.1.1   Lot Frontage and Driveways on Steep Slopes
5.1.2   Steep Slope and Erosion Control Performance Standards     
5.1.3   Steep Slope Protection Overlay District
5.2      Stormwater Management and Reducing Impervious Surfaces
5.3     Mitigation for Failure to Reduce Impermeable Surface Coverage

Part 2 (.docx)

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

Comments on the model laws may be sent to the Department of State’s Office of Planning, Development and Community Infrastructure. Additional model local laws are in development.

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

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