Town of Ghent, NY
Columbia County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
In applying and interpreting this chapter, its provisions shall be held to be minimum requirements adopted for the promotion of the public health, safety, morals, comfort, convenience or the general welfare. The following specific regulations apply:
A. 
A minimum required lot or yard size for one building or structure shall not be used in whole or in part as any part or a required lot or yard for a second structure.
B. 
The required lot or yard for an existing building or structure shall not be diminished below the minimum requirements of this chapter, unless a variance is granted pursuant to Article IX.
C. 
The parking spaces required for one building or structure or use shall not include in the computation of required parking spaces for a second building or structure or use.
A. 
Nothing contained in this chapter shall be taken to repeal, abrogate, annul or any way impair or interfere with the Building Code or any rules or regulations adopted or issued thereunder, or any other provisions of law or ordinance or regulations, existing or as may be adopted in the future, when not in conflict with any of the provisions of this chapter. Nor is it intended by this chapter to interfere with or abrogate or annul any easements, covenants or other agreements between parties; provided, however, that when this chapter imposes a greater restriction upon the use of buildings, structures, premises, lots or land or upon the height of buildings or structures or required larger lots, yards, courts or other open spaces than imposed or required by such other provision of law, ordinance or regulations, or by such easements, covenants or agreements, the provisions of this chapter shall control.
B. 
Wherever the provisions of any other law or ordinance or regulations impose a greater restriction than this chapter, the provisions of such other law or ordinance or regulations shall control.
C. 
No provision contained in this chapter shall be construed as justifying the encroachment of any building or structure within any street lines now or hereafter laid down on any subdivision plat filed in the office of the County Clerk or within any federal, state, County or municipal street or highway.
A. 
It shall be the right and the duty of the Building Inspector, Deputy Building Inspector and/or the Zoning Enforcement Officer to administer and enforce the provisions of this chapter. Any reference in this chapter to the Building Inspector shall include the Deputy Building Inspector or the Zoning Enforcement Officer.
B. 
Should said Building Inspector be in doubt as to the meaning or intent of any provision of this chapter, or as to the location of any district boundary line on the Zoning Map, or as to the propriety of issuing a building permit or a certificate of occupancy in a particular case related to the provisions of this chapter, he shall deny the application and the applicant may then appeal to the Board of Appeals for interpretation and decision.
C. 
The Building Inspector may adopt rules of procedure, consistent with this chapter, for the purpose of assuring efficient and uniform administration of its provisions.
D. 
If the Building Inspector should mistakenly issue any permit or make any determination which is not authorized or violates the provisions of this Zoning Chapter, such permit or authorization shall be invalid.
A. 
In addition to any fees required by an applicant appearing before the Zoning Board of Appeals or Planning Board with respect to a request for special permit, variance, site plan review or interpretation of the Zoning Chapter, the applicant shall also be required to pay all expenses incurred by the Board in connection with such application, including fees for mailing and advertising expenses, and including any fees and expenses incurred by the Board for the retention of any experts as provided for herein.
B. 
In connection with any application before the Zoning Board of Appeals or Planning Board, the Board is hereby authorized and empowered to retain any expert necessary in order to properly review and evaluate the proposed application, being a cost borne by the applicant, including but not limited to the costs for an engineer and/or attorney. In this regard, the Board may require such costs to be paid in advance and may deny an application upon failure of the applicant to make such payment in a timely manner.
[Amended 5-17-2012 by L.L. No. 4-2012]
A. 
Every structure or use built, established, placed, enlarged or significantly altered upon any real property on or after the effective date of this chapter shall require the issuance of a building and/or use permit from the Building Inspector, upon submission of a completed application and payment of the required fee. Any person who commences building any structure or establishes any use without securing the required permit is in violation of the Zoning Chapter and is subject to the provisions of Article XI, § 190-68, Penalties for offenses; remedies.
B. 
Site plan approval pursuant to the provisions of Article VI of this chapter shall be required before the issuance of any building or use permit, except for a building permit for a one- or two-family residence.
C. 
All procedure with respect to applications for and issuance of building permits shall be in conformity with the provisions of any adopted Building Code. All such applications shall be accompanied by such other information as may be necessary to determine and provide for the enforcement of this chapter.
D. 
No building permit shall be issued for the erection, construction, reconstruction, structural alteration, restoration, repair or moving of any building or structure or part thereof, unless the plans and intended use indicate that such building or structure is designed and intended to conform in all respects to the provisions of this chapter.
E. 
Where a lot is formed from part of an existing lot, whether already improved or not, the separation must be effected in such a manner that neither of the lots, nor any existing or proposed improvements thereon, contravene the provisions or intent of this chapter.
F. 
After completion of footings and establishing of the forms on the first course of the foundations walls, or equivalent structure, the owner shall notify the Building Inspector. If required by the Building Inspector, the owner shall cause a survey to be made by a licensed land surveyor, showing the true location of such foundation walls with respect to the lot lines of the lot, and a copy of such survey shall be filed with the Building Inspector before construction is continued.
G. 
No building permit shall be issued herein unless and until the owner can demonstrate full compliance with the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code, and full compliance with the regulations concerning the Flood Area Overzone, if applicable.
H. 
Notwithstanding anything set forth herein, a building permit shall not be required in an instance where a proposed structure is 50 square feet or less, except that such structure must otherwise fully comply with the requirements of this chapter, including the dimensional requirements, and must also fully comply with the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code.
I. 
No driveway shall be constructed, nor any building permit issued, nor any subdivision approved, unless and until the owner has received approval in writing from the applicable state or local municipal authority for the entrance location to the subject premises. The Town Superintendent of Highways shall review and approve the proposed entrance location with regard to any Town highways to determine that there is adequate sight distance, that such proposed location will provide adequate access to the subject premises and is not excessively steep, and that the installation of any culverts and other required improvements shall be made in order to provide for maximum effective drainage. Further, the proposed entrance location shall be designed in order to adequately protect against runoff of water onto the Town highway, including the use of culverts and/or drainage ditches, if necessary. In making such review, the Town's Highway Superintendent may consult and receive input from the Town Engineer, if appropriate. The Town may require an easement, if necessary, to permit the Town to properly maintain the areas adjacent to the roadway. The Town Highway Superintendent shall have the right to disapprove the entrance location proposed by the applicant where the criteria for sight distance, drainage and/or access are not met, and where there is a better location for such entrance. However, nothing set forth herein shall be construed to impose any liability upon the Town Superintendent of Highways or the Town of Ghent with regard to the location of any such entranceways.
J. 
The fee for all building or use permits shall be as established by the Town Board.
K. 
Any applicant applying for a building permit or a use permit for a nonresidential purpose in any zone within the Town shall, in connection with any such application, execute a consent form authorizing the Town of Ghent and/or its designated agents to enter upon the premises of the applicant, its successors and/or assigns, at reasonable times for purposes of inspecting the premises to ensure compliance with the conditions and provisions of the Zoning Chapter and/or any other conditions which have been imposed with any building or use permit, site plan approval, special permit or variance affecting the subject premises.
A. 
Building permit applications shall include two copies of a layout or plot plans showing the actual dimensions of the lot to be built upon and its tax map and subdivision plat name, lot and block identification, the size and location on the lot of the structures, and accessory structures to be erected, other pertinent site improvement information and any other facts necessary to determine compliance with and provide for the enforcement of this chapter.
B. 
One copy of each layout of plot plan shall be returned to the applicant when the building permit has been approved.
[Amended 10-19-2017 by L.L. No. 2-2017]
Nothing in this chapter shall require any change in the plans, construction, or designated use of a building or structure for which a lawful building permit has been issued prior to the effective date of this chapter, or any amendment thereto affecting such building or structure, or the use thereof, provided that:
A. 
The construction of such building or structure shall have been begun and diligently prosecuted within three months from the date of such permit.
B. 
The entire building or structure shall be completed according to such filed and approved plans upon which the issuance of such permit was based, within one year from the effective date of this chapter or any such amendment thereto.
C. 
The construction or completion of such building or structure shall be in full compliance with §§ 190-17 and/or 190-26 of this chapter, as applicable.
D. 
In the event that any of these conditions are not complied with, such building permit shall be revoked by the Building Inspector.
A. 
It shall be unlawful to use or occupy or to permit the use or occupancy of any building, structure, premises, lot or land, or part thereof, hereafter erected or altered, enlarged or moved, or put into use, in whole or in part, after the effective date of this chapter, or of any building, structure, premises, lot or land, or part thereof of which the use is changed, until a certificate of occupancy has been obtained by the owner.
B. 
No certificate of occupancy shall be issued for any building, structure, premises, lot or land unless the erection, construction, reconstruction, structural alteration, restoration, repair or moving of such building or structure or part thereof and the intended use thereof are in conformity in all respects with the provisions of this chapter, and also in conformity in all respects with the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code, and with the Local Law regulating the Flood Area Overzone, if applicable.
C. 
The Building Inspector shall obtain a written order from the Board before issuing a certificate of occupancy in a case involving a special permit use pursuant to Article V; and shall obtain a written order from the Board of Appeals before issuing a certificate of occupancy involving a variance from the provisions of this chapter.
D. 
All structures erected and/or uses established that necessitate water and/or sewer facilities shall not be occupied, nor shall any certificate of occupancy be issued until such time as the systems have been inspected and approved by the Columbia County Health Department, and such proof is presented to the Building Inspector.
All fees for the issuance of any building, use or other permit, certificate of occupancy or in connection with any application to the Building Inspector, Zoning Board, Planning Board or Town Board shall be established by the Town Board pursuant to a Resolution which the Town Board may amend from time to time as is deemed appropriate.
A. 
Where a violation of this chapter is determined to exist, including a violation of any conditions of any variance, special permit, use permit, building permit or certificate of occupancy issued hereunder, the Building Inspector or Zoning Enforcement Officer shall serve notice personally or by certified mail, return receipt requested, on the owner, agent, contractor or party in possession or control of the building, structure or lot where such violation has been committed or shall exist; or upon the agent, architect, contractor or any other such person who takes part or assists in such violation, or who maintains or controls any such building, structure or lot on which any such violation shall exist. There shall be a presumption that the owner of any structure, building or lot shall have knowledge and control of the existence of a violation occurring in such building or structure or upon such lot and shall have the power to remedy same.
B. 
Such notice shall require the removal of the violation within 10 days after service of the notice.
C. 
In cases where the removal of the violation within 10 days would be manifestly impossible the Building Inspector or Zoning Enforcement Officer shall apply to the governing body of the municipality for a determination as to a reasonable period of time within which such violation shall be removed.
D. 
If those persons notified shall fail to remove such violation within the allotted time period, the Building Inspector or Zoning Enforcement Officer shall charge them with such violation of this chapter before the appropriate court of law, and may file all appropriate documents in connection therewith, including the issuance and service of a notice of appearance. A notice of appearance may also be served by a Town Constable. The owner of any building, structure or lot in or upon which a violation exists may, within the applicable ten-day period, provide the Building Inspector or Zoning Enforcement Officer with evidence that such owner has no possession or control over same and has in no way caused or permitted such violation. Such submission must be in writing and must also set forth, to the best of the owner's knowledge, the person or party who has possession and/or control of the premises and/or who has caused or permitted the violation to exist. If the Building Inspector or Zoning Enforcement Officer is satisfied that the owner has, by clear and convincing evidence, established that such owner is in no way responsible for the violation, the Building Inspector or Zoning Enforcement Officer shall not proceed against the owner, but shall instead proceed against the party or parties who have caused the violation. The failure of the owner to notify the Building Inspector or Zoning Enforcement Officer that such owner has no control over the building, structure or premises involved and has in no way caused the violation shall be presumptive evidence that such owner has, in fact, caused or is responsible for such violation, and upon the trial of the matter, the Building Inspector or Zoning Enforcement Officer need only establish the ownership of the premises and the facts constituting the violation.
E. 
Any person or corporation, whether as owner, contractor, lessee, agent or employee, who violates any of the provisions of this Zoning Chapter or fails to apply for a permit when a permit is required or who fails to comply with an order or regulation made hereunder or with regard to any conditions imposed for any use or building permit hereunder or who erects, alters, moves or uses any buildings or land in violation of any statements or drawings submitted by him and approved under the provisions of this Zoning Chapter shall be guilty of a violation and, upon conviction, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding $1,000 or imprisonment not to exceed 15 days, or both, for a first offense; for conviction of a second offense committed within a ten-year period, by a fine not exceeding $5,000 or imprisonment not to exceed 15 days, or both; and for conviction of a third violation within a ten-year period, by a fine not exceeding $10,000 or imprisonment not to exceed 15 days, or both. Each and every week any such violation continues after the allotted period of time for its removal shall be deemed a separate and distinct violation without the necessity of the Building Inspector sending any further notices in this regard.
[Amended 8-15-2013 by L.L. No. 1-2013; 11-20-2014 by L.L. No. 3-2014]
F. 
In addition to other remedies provided by law, any appropriate action or legal proceeding may be instituted or taken to prevent the unlawful erection, construction, reconstruction, alteration, repair, conversion, moving, maintenance or use; to restrain, correct or abate such violation; to prevent the occupancy of such building, structure or lot; or to prevent an illegal act, conduct, business or use in or about such premises. In the event that legal action is required under the provisions of this Zoning Chapter, damages shall include reasonable legal fees and court costs incurred by the Town, which shall be determined by the court and paid by the person(s) or entity (entities) in violation of any such actions.
[Amended 11-20-2014 by L.L. No. 3-2014]
G. 
Any person may file a complaint with the Building Inspector or Zoning Enforcement Officer regarding a violation of this chapter.
(1) 
All such complaints shall be in writing.
(2) 
All such filed complaints shall be investigated by the Building Inspector or Zoning Enforcement Officer and a report prepared thereon and action instituted where appropriate within five business days after receipt of same, which report shall be maintained in his files with respect to the subject property.
(3) 
Nothing set forth herein shall be construed to limit the right of the Building Inspector or Zoning Enforcement Officer from investigating any potential violation without the requirement of a written complaint.
H. 
Notwithstanding any other provision set forth in this section to the contrary, where an owner, agent, contractor or party in possession or control of a building, structure or lot commences construction of a structure thereon, including the alteration of an existing structure, or authorizes, allows, engages in or permits a use on any lot without having first obtained all permits required herein, or authorizes, allows, engages in the use on any lot which is not permitted under the provisions of Chapter 190 of the Ghent Code, such person(s) hereunder shall be in violation of this chapter and shall be subject to prosecution for such violation as provided for in this section, except that the requirement for service of the notice for removal of such violation within 10 days shall not apply when the Zoning Enforcement Officer or Building Inspector elects to issue a cease and desist order as provided for herein. The Building Inspector or Zoning Enforcement Officer may also, in addition to all of the other remedies set forth herein, serve upon any person or entity in violation of any of the terms and provisions of this Zoning Chapter or in violation of any of the requirements for a building or use permit, special permit or variance, a notice to cease and desist from any illegal construction, usage or other such violation(s). If such violation continues at the subject premises after service of such notice, this shall constitute a distinct and separate violation of the Zoning Chapter and shall be punishable by a fine not exceeding $5,000 for a first violation and a fine not exceeding $10,000 for a second and each subsequent violation committed within a period of 10 years of the previous violation. Service of the cease and desist order may be made by personal service upon the violator(s) or may be made by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the violator's address, with an additional copy being mailed by regular mail.
[Amended 5-17-2012 by L.L. No. 4-2012; 11-20-2014 by L.L. No. 3-2014]
I. 
Civil penalties.
[Added 11-20-2014 by L.L. No. 3-2014]
(1) 
In addition to and not in lieu of the above, any person who violates any provision of this Zoning Chapter, or who builds or alters any structure or use of land in violation of any statement or plan submitted and approved hereunder, or who assists therein, or who violates any terms or conditions set forth in any variance, special permit, use permit, building permit, site plan approval, or certificate of occupancy, shall be liable to the Town for a civil penalty in an amount not to exceed $5,000 for a first violation; in an amount not more than $10,000 for a second violation committed within a period of 10 years of the previous violation; and in an amount of not more than $15,000 for a third and each subsequent violation committed within a period of 10 years of the previous violation. Each week's continued violation shall constitute a separate additional violation.
(2) 
Civil penalties may be ordered in any action or proceeding by any court of competent jurisdiction, including but not limited to state and federal courts. All penalties shall be paid to the Town.
(3) 
The judgment amount of any civil penalty ordered pursuant to this section, if not paid, may be assessed and levied against the real property which is the subject of the penalty and collected in the same manner as a real property tax.
(4) 
In the event that the Town elects to pursue civil penalties under this section to enforce the provisions of this Zoning Chapter, the damages sought may include legal fees and court costs incurred by the Town.
A. 
The municipal legislative body may from time to time on its own motion, or on petition, or on recommendation of the Planning Board amend, supplement or repeal the regulations and provisions of this chapter, including the Zoning Map, after public notice and hearing, in accordance with state law.
B. 
Petitions for amendments shall be submitted in quadruplicate to the Municipal Clerk and referred to the Town Board.
C. 
Any petition for a change in the Zoning Map shall include the following:
(1) 
The name of the property owner.
(2) 
A map accurately drawn to an appropriate scale, showing the proposed zone district boundary changes, property lines, the calculated areas affected in acres or square feet, the street rights-of-way in the immediate vicinity and the lands and names of owners immediately adjacent to and extending within 300 feet of all boundaries of the property to be rezoned.
(3) 
A survey description of the proposed amendment.
D. 
The municipal legislative body, by resolution adopted at a stated meeting, shall fix the time and place of a public hearing on the proposed amendments and cause notice to be given.
E. 
Every such proposed amendment or change, whether initiated by the municipal legislative body or by petition, shall be referred to the Planning Board for report before the public hearing is held thereon.
F. 
Proposed amendments that must be referred to the Columbia County Planning Board under the provisions of § 239-m of Article 12-B of the General Municipal Law shall be transmitted as soon as possible and in any case prior to the public hearing.
G. 
The municipal legislative body shall require the petitioner to submit evidence that he has notified by certified mail, return receipt requested, all the property owners within 300 feet of all boundaries of the affected property.
H. 
The municipal legislative body shall reserve decision on all zoning amendments or changes that must be referred to the Columbia County Planning Board until its report has been presented, provided that such report is presented within a period of 30 days after the Columbia County Planning Board receives such referral.
I. 
Upon adoption of a change in the Zoning Map pursuant to a petition, the petitioner shall cause a monument to be placed at one location on the property's street frontage, and shall also file with the Municipal Clerk and the Building Inspector copies of an accurate survey description and drawing of the area affected by such amendment.
J. 
The Town Board shall have the right to retain experts such as engineers, attorneys and/or surveyors in connection with its review/approval process hereunder, the fees of such experts to be paid for by the applicant.
[Amended 5-16-2002 by L.L. No. 2-2002]
Any person or persons jointly or severally aggrieved by a decision by the Board of Appeals or by the Planning Board may apply to the Supreme Court for relief by proceeding under Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules of the State of New York. Such proceeding shall be governed by the provisions of Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules, except that it must be instituted as therein provided within 30 days after the filing of a decision in the Office of the Town Clerk; that the Court may take evidence or appoint a referee to take such evidence as it may direct and report the same with findings of fact and conclusions of law, if it shall appear that testimony is necessary for the proper disposition of the matter; and that the Court at special term shall itself dispose of the cause on the merits, determining all questions of § 7803 of said Article. Costs shall not be allowed against the Board of Appeals or the Planning Board unless it shall appear to the Court that the Board acted with gross negligence or in bad faith or with malice in making the decision appealed from.