[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Trustees of the Village of Suffern 2-14-1994 by L.L. No. 2-1994. Amendments noted where applicable.]
It is the intention of the Board of Trustees in adopting this chapter to provide a mechanism whereby the Village of Suffern is reimbursed for the reasonable and customary cost of reasonably required professional review and consultation services in the review of zoning and planning applications pending before the Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals and Board of Trustees. It is also the intention of the Board of Trustees to ensure that such fees charged to an applicant are reasonable in terms of the nature of the review services, necessity for such services, the hourly rate charged, the amount of time expended on such review and the total sum charged for professional review on an application.
It is further intended to assess applicants only for the reasonable fees for the utilization of outside consultants or professionals. It is not the intention of the Board of Trustees to charge applicants for the review or consultation of employees of the Village of Suffern. In particular, this chapter is not intended to charge applicants for the ordinary review and services of the Village Attorney or Village Engineer (Superintendent of Public Works). This chapter is intended to charge applicants for the reasonable and necessary fees for planning consultants, outside engineers and other technical professionals.
In order to be assured that the fees charged an applicant are reasonable in terms of the hourly rate charged, the amount of time expended on review and the total sum charged for professional review on a particular type of application, the Board of Trustees has caused a survey of fees charged by various consultants, professionals and municipalities to be conducted.
Lastly, by establishing a mandatory escrow account and other mechanisms to assure collection of such review fees, the Board of Trustees intends to guarantee that each applicant pays the reasonable and fair cost of professional review of an application and that the cost of such professional review is not borne by the taxpayers of the Village of Suffern.
In adopting this chapter, the Board of Trustees utilizes the authority of §§ 10, Subdivision 1(i), 10, Subdivision 1(ii)a(9-a) and (14), of the Municipal Home Rule Law to adopt this chapter. In addition, in order to amend the application of §§ 4-412(1), 7-706, 7-712-a, 7-725-a, 7-725-b, 7-728 and 7-730 of the Village Law, the Board of Trustees hereby utilizes the provisions of § 10, Subdivision 1(ii)d(3), of the Municipal Home Rule Law to amend the application of said sections to it.
The following terms shall have the meanings set forth below for purposes of this chapter:
- An application for approval of a site plan, subdivision, special permit, variance, zone change or amendment of the text of the Zoning Law, interpretation of the Zoning Law or appeal of a decision or determination of the Building Inspector or other administrative official.
- The Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals or Board of Trustees of the Village of Suffern.
- The Mayor of the Village of Suffern with respect to applications pending before the Board of Trustees, the Chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals with respect to applications pending before the Zoning Board of Appeals or the Chairman of the Planning Board with respect to applications pending before the Planning Board.
- Planning consultant, engineer, environmental consultant or professional in any other substantive technical area of knowledge or expertise which is necessary to adequately review an application consistent with the jurisdiction of a board.
In performing the review of any application, the Board may determine that it is necessary to refer said application to one or more consultants in order to adequately review such application, any concerns or issues relevant to said application or compliance with the applicable provisions of the Zoning Law, Site Plan Regulations, Subdivision Regulations, Village Law, New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code, State Environmental Quality Review Act or any other applicable statute, law, rule, regulation or code.
Should a Board determine that it is necessary to refer an application to one or more consultants, as set forth in § 267-3A, the Board shall obtain a written estimate from one or more consultants who practice in the relevant area of expertise and, based upon the estimates provided and consultation with Village staff, determine a reasonable estimate for the reasonable cost of such review and consultation services for each necessary area of professional services. In determining the reasonable cost of such necessary review and consultation services, the Board, in consultation with Village staff, shall determine that the fees charged by the consultant to be retained for such service are customarily charged for such services in Rockland County and that the fees to be charged by such consultant(s) are competitive with the fees charged by comparable professionals and consultants in Rockland County in terms of an hourly rate charged and in the fee for review of the entire project. In arriving at an estimate for review of an application, the Board, to the extent practicable, shall render an estimate for review of all aspects of the project, including all reasonably anticipated reviews from inception to completion of review of the proposal.
The Village shall not be confined to retaining consultants doing business in the Rockland County market and shall not be limited to retaining consultants whose fees are commensurate with those set forth in § 267-3B. However, an applicant is only responsible to reimburse the Village at an hourly rate or on a fee basis commensurate with those fees determined to be charged for commensurate services by comparable professionals in Rockland County in accordance with § 267-3B herein.
Once the Board shall have determined an estimate for fees necessary for review of a proposal consistent with the provisions of this chapter, it shall notify the applicant of the amount of such estimate, together with a detailed analysis of the basis for such estimate. An applicant shall pay the amount of such estimate to the Village Treasurer prior to further review of such proposal by the Board. The Village Treasurer shall notify the Secretary to such Board that the required sum has been paid to the Village immediately upon receipt of payment. Said sum shall be deposited and segregated in one or more trust accounts and shall only be drawn upon in accordance with the provisions of § 267-3E herein.
Upon presentment with bills from consultants retained in accordance with the provisions of this chapter, the Village Treasurer shall forward a copy of such bills or invoices to the Chairman of such Board, who shall examine the same and certify that the services set forth therein were necessary for adequate review of an application and that, based upon studies or reports performed for the Village of Suffern, such fees are customarily charged for such services in Rockland County and that the fees to be charged by such consultant(s) are competitive with the fees charged by comparable professionals and consultants in Rockland County in terms of an hourly rate charged and in terms of the fee for review of the entire project. Simultaneously therewith, the Village Treasurer shall forward a copy of said bill or invoice to the applicant.
Upon receipt of certification from the Chairman of such Board, the Village Treasurer shall make payment of said amount approved by such Chairman to the consultant from the funds deposited in the aforementioned trust account by the applicant.
Once an application has been withdrawn, denied or approved, the Chairman shall so notify all consultants retained in accordance with the provisions of this chapter that no further review is required and that the consultant(s) are required to provide to the Village Treasurer a final bill within 15 days of the date of said letter. Upon receipt of said final bill(s) or the passage of 15 days, the Village Treasurer shall make final payment of all outstanding bills to such consultant(s) and shall refund to the applicant the balance, if any, remaining in such trust fund(s) to the credit of the applicant.
Upon exhaustion of the trust fund paid by an applicant in accordance with § 267-3B, the Village Treasurer shall immediately so notify the Chairman of such Board and all consultants retained in accordance with this chapter in connection with an application that all such funds have been expended. No further review of such application by consultant(s) retained in accordance with this chapter shall transpire unless and until the provisions of this section have been complied with. Once the funds deposited in accordance with this chapter have been expended, the Chairman of a Board, upon consultation with previously retained consultants, Village staff and/or the applicant may certify in writing to the applicant and Village Treasurer that additional review is required by the same or additional consultants. Said certification shall, additionally, set forth an estimate for such services in accordance with and containing the particulars required by § 276-3B herein, together with an explanation for the requirement for additional review. Upon receipt of such certification, the applicant shall forthwith forward the sum set forth therein to the Village Treasurer, who shall deposit said sum in a trust account in accordance with the provisions of § 276-3D and which sums shall be disbursed only in accordance with the provisions of § 276-3E.
If an application requires approval or permits from more than one Board of the Village of Suffern, the Chairmen of such boards may, in conformity with the provisions of § 276-3A and B herein, determine an appropriate sum for review of all applications or, in the alternative, each Board may separately determine an appropriate review sum. If an application requires approval from more than one Board, the balance of funds remaining following approval by a Board shall be retained by the Village until other reviewing boards determine if review by consultant(s) is required and the estimated cost thereof in accordance with § 276-3A and B herein. If such additional consultant fees are required, the amount of such unexpected trust funds shall be applied thereto.
Final approval of an application shall not be granted, nor shall any map, plat, decision or local law be signed or released by the Secretary to a Board, nor shall a building permit or certificate of occupancy be granted until all fees for consultant services rendered in accordance with the provisions of this chapter have been fully paid by an applicant.
The provisions of this chapter are intended to supplement the provisions of 6 NYCRR 617.17, and the limitations therein are not construed to represent a limitation on review fees set in accordance with this chapter which are not for the preparation or review of environmental impact statements.