City of Cohoes, NY
Albany County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
A. 
A Zoning Board of Appeals, pursuant to General City Law § 81, is hereby created by the Common Council of the City of Cohoes.
B. 
Appointment of members. The Zoning Board of Appeals shall consist of five members and up to two alternates. The Mayor shall designate the Chairperson thereof. In the absence of a Chairperson, the Board of Appeals may designate a member to serve as Acting Chairperson.
C. 
Appropriation for Zoning Board of Appeals. The Common Council is hereby authorized and empowered to make such appropriation as it may see fit for the Zoning Board of Appeals' expenses. Such charges and expenses less fees, if any collected, shall be a charge upon the taxable property and shall be assessed, levied and collected. The Zoning Board of Appeals shall have the power and authority to employ experts, clerks and a secretary and to pay for their services, and to provide for such other expenses as may be necessary and proper, not exceeding in all the appropriation that may be made therefor by the Common Council for such Zoning Board of Appeals.
D. 
Common Council members ineligible. No person who is a member of the Common Council shall be eligible for membership on the Board of Appeals.
E. 
Terms of members first appointed. In the creation of a new Board of Appeals, or the reestablishment of terms of an existing Board, the appointment of members to the Board shall be for terms so fixed that one member's term shall expire at the end of each year thereafter. At the expiration of each original member's appointment, the replacement member shall be appointed for a five-year term.
F. 
Vacancy in office. If a vacancy shall occur otherwise than by expiration of term, the Mayor shall appoint the new member for the unexpired term.
G. 
Removal of members. The Mayor shall have the power to remove, after public hearing, any member of the Zoning Board of Appeals for cause. Any Zoning Board of Appeals member may be removed for noncompliance with minimum requirements relating to meeting attendance and training as established by the Common Council by local law or ordinance and as set forth in § 285-16 of this article.
H. 
Chairperson duties. All meetings of the Board of Appeals shall be held at the call of the Chairperson and at such other times as such Board may determine. Such Chairperson, or in his or her absence, the Acting Chairperson, may administer oaths and compel the attendance of witnesses.
A. 
Training. Each Board member is required to complete four hours of training per calendar year. At the discretion of the remaining members or the Mayor, failure to comply with this requirement may be grounds for recommending removal from the Board. Any training program or course provided by a county planning board, state agency, statewide municipal association, college or law school or a similar entity, or any course approved for professional continuing educational credits shall be considered "training" for the purposes of this subsection. Training may be provided in various formats, including but not limited to traditional classroom, electronic media, video, or distance learning.
B. 
Attendance. Each Board member shall be required to attend 75% of the scheduled meetings in each calendar year. At the discretion of the Mayor, failure to attend the required number of meetings may be grounds for removal from the Board. In addition, failure to attend three consecutive meetings may be grounds for removal from the Board.
C. 
Compensation. The Common Council may, as part of the annual budget, provide for the compensation of Zoning Board of Appeals members and alternates. If compensation is provided for, it shall be on a per-meeting-attended basis. In addition, the City shall provide reimbursement for all approved training and out-of-pocket expenses associated therewith.
The Zoning Board of Appeals shall have all the powers and duties prescribed by § 81-b of the General City Law of the State of New York and by this chapter. These powers and duties are more particularly specified as follows:
A. 
Interpretation. Upon appeal from a decision by an administrative official, to decide any question involving the interpretation of any provision of this chapter, including determination of the exact location of any district boundary if there is uncertainty with respect hereto.
B. 
Appeals. The Zoning Board of Appeals may reverse or affirm, wholly or partly, or may modify the order, requirement, decision, interpretation or determination appealed from and shall make such order, requirement, decision, interpretation or determination as in its opinion ought to have been made in the matter by the administrative official charged with the enforcement of such ordinance or local law and to that end shall have all the powers of the administrative official from whose order, requirement, decision, interpretation or determination the appeal is taken.
C. 
Variances. When, in its judgment, the public safety, convenience and welfare will be served, the Zoning Board of Appeals may vary or modify the application of the regulations or provisions of this chapter relating to the use, construction or alteration of structures or use of the land. In such cases, the Zoning Board is empowered to grant exceptions in harmony with the general purpose and intent of this chapter. Variances will be granted in appropriate and specific cases only after public notice and hearing and subject to such appropriate conditions and safeguards as the Zoning Board of Appeals may impose.
(1) 
As used in this chapter, a variance is authorized for height, area, size of structure, size of yards and open spaces or for establishment or expansion of a use otherwise not allowed. A variance shall not be granted solely because of the presence of nonconformities in the zoning district or uses in an adjoining zoning district.
(2) 
Variance procedures.
(a) 
An application for the approval of a variance shall be made, by an owner of an interest in the lot, to the Zoning Officer on forms available therefrom, accompanied by the necessary fees and documents as provided in this chapter and the regulations issued hereunder.
(b) 
The application shall be accompanied by a map drawn to an appropriate scale and showing all existing and proposed characteristics of the site and adjacent properties necessary for consideration of the variance request. For applications where site plan approval is also required, a preliminary site plan in accordance with Article XIV of this chapter shall be required.
(c) 
A use variance shall not be granted by a Board of Appeals without a showing by the applicant that applicable zoning regulations and restrictions have caused unnecessary hardship. In order to prove such unnecessary hardship the applicant shall demonstrate to the Board of Appeals that for each and every permitted use under the zoning regulations for the particular district where the property is located:
[1] 
The applicant cannot realize a reasonable return, provided that lack of return is substantial, as demonstrated by competent financial evidence;
[2] 
That the alleged hardship relating to the property in question is unique and does not apply to a substantial portion of the district or neighborhood;
[3] 
That the requested use variance, if granted, will not alter the essential character of the neighborhood; and
[4] 
That the alleged hardship has not been self-created.
(d) 
In making its determination on granting an area variance, the Zoning Board of Appeals shall take into consideration the benefit to the applicant if the variance is granted, as weighed against the detriment to the health, safety and welfare of the neighborhood or community by such grant. In making such determination the Board shall also consider:
[1] 
Whether an undesirable change will be produced in the character of the neighborhood or a detriment to nearby properties will be created by the granting of the area variance;
[2] 
Whether the benefit sought by the applicant can be achieved by some method, feasible for the applicant to pursue, other than an area variance;
[3] 
Whether the requested area variance is substantial;
[4] 
Whether the proposed variance will have an adverse effect or impact on the physical or environmental conditions in the neighborhood or district; and
[5] 
Whether the alleged difficulty was self-created, which consideration shall be relevant to the decision of the Board of Appeals, but shall not necessarily preclude the granting of the area variance.
(e) 
The Board of Appeals, in the granting of variances, shall grant the minimum variance that it shall deem necessary and adequate and at the same time preserve and protect the character of the neighborhood and the health, safety and welfare of the community.
(f) 
The Zoning Board of Appeals shall fix a reasonable time and place for a public hearing thereon and shall provide for the giving of notice as follows:
[1] 
A notice shall be published in the official newspaper of the City at least five days prior to the date thereof, the cost of such publication shall be borne by the appealing party and shall be paid to the Board prior to the hearing of such appeal.
[2] 
The Zoning Officer shall mail a copy of such notice to all agencies, municipalities, authorities, etc., as prescribed in § 81-a of the General City Law and § 239-m of the General Municipal Law.
[3] 
The applicant shall be required to erect a sign or signs giving notice of such public hearing and the purpose thereof, which sign(s) shall be prominently displayed on the premises facing each public street or road on which the property abuts. The sign(s) shall be furnished to the applicant for this purpose by the Zoning Officer and shall be set back 15 feet from the property line and shall not be less than two feet nor more than six feet above the grade at said property line. Said sign shall be displayed for a period of not less than 10 days immediately preceding the public hearing date or any adjournment date thereof. In addition to the public notice of a hearing, notice shall be given by first class mail to all property owners of land in the City of Cohoes and any municipality within 150 feet of each property line which is subject to a request before the Zoning Board of Appeals at least 10 days prior to the hearing. The applicant shall file with the Zoning Officer, prior to the public hearing, an affidavit regarding compliance with the provision of this section and that the sign(s) will be removed from the premises and returned to the Zoning Officer within three days after such public hearing is held. The Zoning Officer shall collect from the applicant a fee as currently fixed by the appropriate Common Council, and a deposit per sign, which sum shall be refunded to the applicant upon the return of said sign in good condition.
[4] 
The cost of sending or publishing any notices relating to such appeal, or a reasonable fee relating thereto, shall be borne by the appealing party and shall be paid to the Board prior to the hearing of such appeal.
(g) 
The Board shall approve, with or without conditions, or disapprove the application within 62 days of the public hearing as specified in § 81-a of General City Law and shall communicate its action, in writing, to the applicant, and to the Zoning Officer within five days of the meeting at which it decided upon the application. When applicable, compliance shall be required in accordance with the provisions of §§ 239-m and 239-n of the General Municipal Law.
(h) 
The Zoning Officer shall, upon receipt of the notice of approval and upon application by the applicant, collect all required fees and issue a building permit or such other approval permitting the variance, subject to all conditions imposed by such approval.
A. 
A Planning Board, pursuant to General City Law § 27, is hereby created by the Common Council of the City of Cohoes.
B. 
Authorization. The Planning Board shall consist of five members and up to two alternates. The Mayor shall appoint the members of such Board and designate the Chairperson thereof. In the absence of a Chairperson, the Planning Board may designate a member to serve as Chairperson.
C. 
Appropriation for Planning Board. The Common Council is hereby authorized and empowered to make such appropriation as it may see fit for Planning Board expenses. Such charges and expenses less fees, if any collected, shall be a charge upon the taxable property and shall be assessed, levied and collected. The Planning Board shall have the power and authority to employ experts, clerks and a secretary and to pay for their services, and to provide for such other expenses as may be necessary and proper, not exceeding in all the appropriation that may be made therefor by the Common Council for such Planning Board. The Planning Board shall also have the power to open an escrow account for the collection of reimbursable fees pursuant to § 285-132.
D. 
Common Council members ineligible. No person who is a member of the Common Council shall be eligible for membership on such Planning Board.
E. 
Terms of members first appointed. The terms of members of the Board shall be for terms so fixed that the term of one member shall expire at the end of the calendar year in which such members were initially appointed. The terms of the remaining members shall be so fixed that one term shall expire at the end of each calendar year thereafter. At the expiration of the term of each member first appointed, his or her successor shall be appointed for a five-year term.
F. 
Vacancy in office. If a vacancy shall occur otherwise than by expiration of term, the Mayor shall appoint the new member for the unexpired term.
G. 
Removal of members. The Mayor shall have the power to remove, after public hearing, any member of the Planning Board for cause. Any Planning Board member may be removed for noncompliance with minimum requirements relating to meeting attendance and training as established by the Common Council by local law or ordinance and as set forth in § 285-19 of this article.
H. 
Chairperson duties. All meetings of the Planning Board shall be held at the call of the Chairperson and at such other times as such Board may determine. Such Chairperson, or in his or her absence, the Acting Chairperson, may administer oaths and compel the attendance of witnesses.
A. 
Training. Each Board member is required to complete four hours of training per calendar year. At the discretion of the remaining members or the Mayor, failure to comply with this requirement may be grounds for recommending removal from the Board. Any training program or course provided by a county planning board, state agency, statewide municipal association, college or law school or a similar entity, or any course approved for professional continuing educational credits shall be considered "training" for the purposes of this subsection. Training may be provided in various formats, including but not limited to traditional classroom, electronic media, video, or distance learning.
B. 
Attendance. Each Board member shall be required to attend 75% of the scheduled meetings in each calendar year. At the discretion of the Mayor, failure to attend the required number of meetings without good cause may be grounds for removal from the Board. In addition, failure to attend three consecutive meetings without good cause may be grounds for removal from the Board.
C. 
Compensation. The Common Council may, as part of the annual budget, provide for the compensation of Planning Board members and alternates. If compensation is provided for, it shall be on a per-meeting-attended basis. In addition, the City shall provide reimbursement for all approved training and out-of-pocket expenses associated therewith.
The Planning Board shall have the powers and duties as specified below.
A. 
Plats. The Planning Board may approve plats showing lots, blocks or sites, with or without streets or highways, and conditionally approve preliminary plats and pass and approve the development of plats already filed in the office of the Clerk of the County of Albany if such plats are entirely or partially undeveloped.
B. 
Street changes. The Planning Board has the power and authority to change the City's Official Map by approving and filing an approved subdivision plat. The Planning Board can recommend the discontinuance of an existing street or a portion thereof to the City Council. The City Council has the authority to determine, and act upon, the discontinuance of a street.
C. 
Site plan. The Planning Board will approve, approve with conditions or deny site plans in accordance with Article XIV of these regulations.
D. 
Special use permits. The Planning Board will hear and decide upon applications for such permits as specified in this chapter. A permit for any special permit use shall be granted only if evidence is presented which establishes that:
(1) 
The proposed building or use will be in harmony with the general purpose, goals, objectives and standards of the City's long-term planning goals and this chapter.
(2) 
The proposed building, hours of operation, use, or intensity of operation involved will not have a substantial or undue adverse effect upon adjacent property, the character of the neighborhood, traffic conditions, parking, utility facilities and other matters affecting the public health, safety and general welfare.
(3) 
The proposed building or use will be constructed, arranged and operated so as not to dominate the immediate vicinity, or to interfere with or devalue the development and use of neighboring property in accordance with the applicable district regulations.
(4) 
The proposed building or use will be adequately served by essential public facilities and services.
(5) 
The proposed building or use complies with all additional standards imposed on it by the particular provision of this chapter authorizing such use.
(6) 
All steps possible have been taken to minimize any adverse effects of the proposed building or use on the immediate vicinity through building design, site design, landscaping and screening.
(7) 
Where requested, a performance bond or other suitable financial guaranty has been provided to assure compliance with the conditions of the special use permit.
(8) 
In the review and approval of special use permits, the following additional factors shall be considered:
(a) 
General conformance with the City of Cohoes' long-term planning goals and guidelines for development associated with them.
(b) 
Consistency with development standards and guidelines of the zoning district in which it is located.
(c) 
Criteria for the review of site plans enumerated in Article XIV.
A. 
An Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board, pursuant to General Municipal Law § 119-dd, is hereby created by the Common Council of the City of Cohoes.
B. 
Authorization. The Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board shall consist of five members and up to two alternates. The Mayor shall appoint the members of such Board and designate the Chairperson thereof. In the absence of a Chairperson, the Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board may designate a member to serve as Chairperson.
C. 
Appropriation for Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board. The Common Council is hereby authorized and empowered to make such appropriation as it may see fit for Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board expenses. Such charges and expenses less fees, if any collected, shall be a charge upon the taxable property and shall be assessed, levied and collected. The Board shall have the power and authority to employ experts, clerks and a secretary and to pay for their services, and to provide for such other expenses as may be necessary and proper, not exceeding in all the appropriation that may be made therefor by the Common Council for such Board.
D. 
Common Council members ineligible. No person who is a member of the Common Council shall be eligible for membership on such Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board.
E. 
Terms of members first appointed. The terms of members of the Board shall be for terms so fixed that the term of one member shall expire at the end of the calendar year in which such members were initially appointed. The terms of the remaining members shall be so fixed that one term shall expire at the end of each calendar year thereafter. At the expiration of the term of each member first appointed, his or her successor shall be appointed for a five-year term.
F. 
Vacancy in office. If a vacancy shall occur otherwise than by expiration of term, the Mayor shall appoint the new member for the unexpired term.
G. 
Removal of members. The Mayor shall have the power to remove, after public hearing, any member of the Board for cause.
H. 
Chairperson duties. All meetings of the Board shall be held at the call of the Chairperson and at such other times as such Board may determine. Such Chairperson, or in his or her absence, the Acting Chairperson, may administer oaths and compel the attendance of witnesses.
A. 
The Mayor shall appoint from its membership a Chairman and such officers as deemed necessary, who shall serve annual terms as such and who may succeed themselves. For the conduct of any hearing and the taking of any action, a quorum shall not be less than a majority of all the members of the Board.
B. 
The Board shall keep a full public record of its proceedings, including minutes of its proceedings and other official actions, which shall be filed with the City Clerk.
C. 
The Board shall submit a report of its activities to the Common Council at least once a year.
D. 
The Board may recommend to the Common Council the designation of additional landmarks and properties to be included in the Historic Overlay Districts.
E. 
Limitations. The Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board is authorized to review and act upon matters within the Historic Overlay District and matters related to any designated City landmarks outside of the Historic Overlay District.
F. 
Adoption of criteria for the identification of significant historic, architectural and cultural landmarks and for delineation of historic districts.
G. 
Conduct of surveys of significant historic, architectural and cultural landmarks and historic districts within the City of Cohoes.
H. 
Making recommendations to the Common Council concerning the utilization of state, federal or private funds to promote the preservation of landmarks and historic districts within the City of Cohoes.
A. 
In order to be heard by the Board at its next regular meeting, a complete application for a certificate of appropriateness shall be made to the Zoning Officer, on forms provided, at least 15 days prior to the next scheduled meeting. In the event of an appeal pursuant to § 285-23F, a notice of appeal shall be filed with the Zoning Officer at least 15 days prior to the next scheduled meeting.
B. 
The Board shall meet at least once a month, provided that there are applications to consider. However, it need not meet if no applications are pending for its review.
C. 
Professional review. The applicant will provide renderings, site plans, and other information related to the proposed construction, renovation or alteration of structures or buildings in the Historic Overlay District at least 14 days prior to the next Board meeting for review. A licensed architect familiar with the historic vernacular of the Historic Overlay District will provide a written review to the Board prior to the meeting. Any professional fees associated with projects requiring review by the Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board will be the responsibility of the applicant. Fees will be based upon a percentage of the overall project estimated cost, not to exceed 5%.
D. 
The Board shall vote on any application not later than 62 days after the conclusion of the hearing on the application unless the time is extended with the written consent of the applicant.
E. 
Upon approval by the Board a certificate of appropriateness shall be issued within five business days of the decision. A certificate of appropriateness shall be valid for a period of one year from the date of the Board's action, unless otherwise specified by the Board or Council.
F. 
In the case of disapproval of an application before the Board, the Board shall briefly state its reasons in writing, which shall be included as part of the public record. The Board may make recommendations to the applicant for reconsideration in the future. In the case of disapproval accompanied by recommendations, the applicant may again be heard before the Board, if he files an amended application that addresses the recommendations of the Board within 90 days.
G. 
Any property owner aggrieved by any decision of the Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board may present to the Common Council a notification of appeal within 30 calendar days after the decision is rendered by the Board. The Common Council shall schedule a public hearing as part of its consideration of the matter and render a decision within 62 calendar days after the hearing. The Common Council may affirm the decision of the Board, or may reverse or modify the Board's decision, in whole or in part.
H. 
The Board shall not reconsider or review, more than once, any decision it makes within one year of initial application. Multiple applications submitted for the same property within one year of each other must be substantially different to warrant review, except for cases of appeal and amended applications as provided for herein.
Any property owner aggrieved by the final decision of the Common Council pursuant to § 285-23G may present to the City Court of the City of Cohoes a duly certified petition setting forth the alleged illegality of the action of the Common Council, provided that such petition is filed within 30 days after the final decision is rendered by the Common Council. The filing of said petition shall stay any action pursuant to the decision of the Common Council pending the outcome of the appeal to the Court, except that the filing of such petition shall not stay any action pursuant to the decision of the Common Council if such decision denies the right to raze or demolish an historic landmark, building or structure. The Court may affirm the decision of the Common Council, or it may reverse or modify the decision of Common Council, in whole or in part, if it finds upon review that the decision of the Common Council is contrary to law or that its decision is arbitrary and constitutes an abuse of discretion.
Whenever the requirements of this chapter vary from the requirements of any other lawfully adopted rules, regulations or ordinances, the most restrictive or those imposing the higher standards shall govern, except where the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code applies, those regulations shall govern.
A. 
The regulations, restrictions, uses and boundaries provided in this chapter and the Official Map may be amended, supplemented, changed, modified or repealed in accordance with the provisions of §§ 29 and 83 of General City Law for all property in the City of Cohoes and all other applicable laws of the State of New York and in accordance with the following procedures.
B. 
Whenever any person, firm or corporation desires that any amendments or changes be made in this chapter, including the text and/or the Zoning District Map as to any property in Cohoes, there shall be presented to the Common Council a petition requesting such change or amendment. The petition shall clearly describe the property and its boundaries and shall indicate the existing zoning district and the requested zoning district. The petition shall also show existing highways, municipal boundary lines and state parks, names and addresses of all property owners bordering the proposed change. A filing fee pursuant to regulations adopted by the Common Council shall be paid at the time of filing the petition.
C. 
All such amendments shall be referred to the Planning Board for review and recommendation.