City of Ithaca, NY
Tompkins County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[Amended 8-5-1987 by Ord. No. 87-23; 4-2-1997 by Ord. No. 97-4]
A. 
This chapter shall be administered and enforced by the Director of Planning and Development or designee and/or his or her deputies and assistants. The Director of Planning and Development or designee may call upon the City Prosecutor or other legal assistance where necessary to enjoin or prosecute violations of this chapter. No building permit or certificate of occupancy shall be issued by the Director of Planning and Development or designee except where all provisions of this chapter shall have been met and complied with or under specific written order of the Board of Appeals.
[Amended 6-5-2013 by Ord. No. 2013-15[1]]
[1]
Editor's Note: This ordinance provided for an effective date of 1-1-2014.
B. 
Any person ordered to comply with the provisions of this chapter, ordered to cease and desist any use prohibited by this chapter or who is otherwise in disagreement with the judgment of the Director of Planning and Development and/or designee with respect to the administration or enforcement of this chapter may appeal to the Board of Zoning Appeals, provided that a written statement setting forth the reasons for such appeal be filed with the Secretary of the Board. Such appeal shall be commenced pursuant to the provisions set forth in § 325-40 relating to procedures before the Board. In the case of an order to comply or to cease and desist, the Director of Planning and Development and/or designee shall notify such person of this right to appeal and of the time limitations for commencing an appeal.
[Amended 6-5-2013 by Ord. No. 2013-15[2]]
[2]
Editor's Note: This ordinance provided for an effective date of 1-1-2014.
C. 
Approvals. It shall be the duty of the Director of Planning and Development or designee to review any zoning compliance approvals requested for any property within the City by any property owner or his/her agent. When the Director of Planning and Development or designee has determined that a zoning compliance approval can be issued for a property, a fee for this approval shall be charged at a rate of $50 per hour involved in the issuance of the approval, with a minimum fee of $25, except that the fee for any zoning compliance approval for owner-occupied one- or two-family dwellings is $25. The zoning compliance fee does not apply to the issuance of a certificate of compliance or a certificate of occupancy where other fees are assessed by the Municipal Code.
[Added 11-4-1998 by Ord. No. 98-27; amended 6-5-2013 by Ord. No. 2013-15[3]]
[3]
Editor's Note: This ordinance provided for an effective date of 1-1-2014.
D. 
Collection of fees. Upon the issuance of a zoning compliance approval, the property owner shall be billed for services rendered at the rates established pursuant to Subsection C. This fee shall be paid to the City Chamberlain within 30 days of the billing date. If the required fee is not paid within 30 days of the billing date, the City Chamberlain shall enter the same as a lien against the premises as provided in § C-54 of the Charter of the City of Ithaca. The Chamberlain shall add the same to the next assessment roll of general City taxes and shall collect and enforce the assessment in the same manner and by the same proceedings, at the same time and with the same penalties as the general City tax and as a part thereof, except that, in addition to the penalties provided for in the aforementioned provisions, interest shall accrue from the date of billing to the date of actual payment at 12% per annum or $3 per month, whichever is greater.
[Added 11-4-1998 by Ord. No. 98-27]
E. 
Appeal of bill. The exclusive administrative remedy for a property owner wishing to appeal the amount of the bill which has been established pursuant to Subsection C is to file a notice of appeal with the Department of Planning, Building and Economic Development within seven days of the mailing date to the property owner of the bill for the service. When a notice of appeal is filed, the Director of Planning and Development or designee, using the regulations of the Board of Zoning Appeals, except that any of the public notice requirements shall not apply, shall schedule the matter at the next possible regular meeting of the Board of Zoning Appeals. The property owner then has the responsibility to perfect the appeal to the Board of Zoning Appeals, by submitting six copies of the appeal and detailing the reasons why the property owner believes the fee is not justified. The property owner bears the burden of establishing that the accounting submitted by the Director of Planning and Development or designee is inaccurate. The Board of Zoning Appeals shall have the authority to approve or reject such appeal in whole or in part.
[Added 11-4-1998 by Ord. No. 98-27; amended 6-5-2013 by Ord. No. 2013-15[4]]
[4]
Editor's Note: This ordinance provided for an effective date of 1-1-2014.
[Amended 6-5-2013 by Ord. No. 2013-15[1]]
No building or structure shall be erected, added to or structurally altered until a building permit therefor has been issued by the Director of Planning and Development or designee. All applications for such permits shall be in accordance with the requirements of all applicable regulations. The Director of Planning and Development or designee shall not issue a building permit hereunder until he/she has determined that all of the provisions of this chapter and any other applicable laws or regulations have been complied with. (See also Chapter 146, Building Construction.) No temporary, conditional or verbal building permits shall be issued to allow grading, construction or other work requiring such a permit. Fast-tracking will be permitted upon application to and approval of the Department of Planning, Building and Economic Development.
[1]
Editor's Note: This ordinance provided for an effective date of 1-1-2014.
[Amended 6-5-2013 by Ord. No. 2013-15[2]]
A. 
Required. No land shall be occupied or used and no building hereafter erected, altered or extended shall be used or changed in use until a certificate of occupancy shall have been issued by the Director of Planning and Development or designee stating that the building or proposed use thereof complies with the provisions of this and other applicable chapters of this Code governing the use and occupancy of land and buildings.
B. 
Nonconforming uses. No nonconforming use shall be renewed, changed or extended without a certificate of occupancy.
C. 
Issuance. All certificates of occupancy shall be applied for coincident with the application for a building permit. Said certificate shall be issued only after the completion of the building or the alteration thereto shall have been approved as complying with the provisions of this and other applicable chapters of this Code.
D. 
Records. The Department of Planning, Building and Economic Development shall maintain a record of all certificates, and copies shall be furnished upon request to any person having a proprietary or tenancy interest in the building affected.
E. 
Temporary certificates. Upon request, the Director of Planning and Development or designee may issue a temporary certificate of occupancy for a building or structure or part thereof before the entire work covered by the building permit shall have been completed, provided that such portion or portions as have been completed may be occupied safely without endangering life or the public welfare.
[1]
Editor's Note: Former § 325-39, Neighborhood and private parking area permits, was repealed 3-6-1996 by Ord. No. 96-3. Said ordinance also renumbered former §§ 325-40 through 325-48 as §§ 325-39 through 325-47, respectively.
[2]
Editor's Note: This ordinance provided for an effective date of 1-1-2014.
[Amended 3-18-1994 by L.L. No. 2-1994]
A. 
Creation, appointment and organization.
(1) 
Appointment of members. The Mayor, with the consent of the Common Council, shall appoint a Board of Appeals consisting of five members. The Board of Appeals, at the first regular meeting each year, shall elect one of its own members as Chairperson. In the absence of the Chairperson at any meeting, the Board of Appeals may designate a member to serve as Acting Chairperson. The Director of Zoning Administration or the designee of the Director of Planning and Development shall be the Secretary of the Board of Appeals. In making such appointments, the Mayor may require Board of Appeals members to complete training and continuing education courses.
[Amended 4-22-1997 by L.L. No. 2-1997;[1] 8-7-1996 by L.L. No. 10-1997[2]; 6-5-2013 by L.L. No. 7-2013[3]]
[1]
Editor's Note: The City determined during 1996 that several local laws enacted by Common Council during the last 30 years were subject to the mandatory referendum requirement of the New York Municipal Home Rule Law but were not in fact submitted to or approved by referenda. Local Law No. 2-1997 corrects the text of the Ithaca City Code by deleting language inserted pursuant to unapproved and therefore invalid local laws and reinserting the preexisting language which is still legally effective.
[2]
Editor's Note: This local law was passed over the Mayor's veto on 10-2-1996, was passed at referendum on 11-4-1997, and repassed over the Mayor's reveto 11-5-1997. Section 1 of this local law provided as follows: "Section 1. Legislative intent. Pursuant to the findings of the mandatory referendum review, this local law is intended to give effect to the change made by Local Law 2-1994, which intended to amend § 325-40(A)(1) of the Ithaca City Code but was not submitted to a referendum, through the adoption of this local law and its submission to a referendum.
[3]
Editor's Note: This local law passed at referendum on 11-5-2013.
(2) 
Legislative body members ineligible. No person who is a member of the Common Council shall be eligible for membership on such Board of Appeals.
(3) 
Terms of members first appointed. In the creation of a new Board of Appeals or the re-establishment of terms of the existing Board of Appeals, the appointment of members to the Board of Appeals shall be for terms so fixed so that one member's term shall expire at the end of 1994; that two members' terms shall expire at the end of 1995; and that two members' terms shall expire at the end of 1996. At the expiration of each original member's appointment, the replacement member shall be appointed for a term of three years.
(4) 
Vacancy in office. If a vacancy shall occur otherwise than by expiration of term, the Mayor, with the consent of Common Council, shall appoint the new member for the unexpired term.
(5) 
Removal of members. The Mayor shall have the power to remove, after public hearing, any member of the Board of Appeals for cause. Any Board of Appeals member may be removed for noncompliance with any minimum requirements relating to meeting attendance and training established by the Common Council.
(6) 
Compatibility of offices. Municipal officials or employees on the Board of Appeals shall not, by reason of membership thereon, forfeit their right to exercise the powers, perform the duties, or receive the compensation of the municipal office held by them during such membership. No municipal officer or employee shall be appointed to the Board of Appeals in the event such officer or employee cannot carry out his or her position without a conflict in the performance of his or her duties as a member of the Board of Appeals.
(7) 
Chairperson's duties. All meetings of the Board of Appeals shall be held at the call of the Chairperson and at such other times as the Board of Appeals may determine. Such Chairperson, or, in his or her absence, the Acting Chairperson, may administer oaths and compel the attendance of witnesses.
B. 
Board of Appeals procedure.
(1) 
Procedure pursuant to state law. Except as provided herein to the contrary, the procedure of the Board of Appeals shall be governed by § 81-a of the General City Law of the State of New York, as follows:
(a) 
Meetings, minutes, records. Meetings of such Board of Appeals shall be open to the public to the extent provided in Article 7 of the Public Officers Law. Such Board of Appeals shall keep minutes of its proceedings, showing the vote of each member upon every question, or, if absent or failing to vote, indicating such fact, and shall also keep records of its examinations and other official actions.
(b) 
Filing requirements. Every rule, every regulation, every amendment or repeal thereof and every order, requirement, decision or determination of the Board of Appeals shall be filed in the office of the City Clerk within 30 days and shall be a public record.
(c) 
Assistance to the Board of Appeals. Such Board of Appeals shall have the authority to call upon any department, agency or employee of the City for such assistance as shall be deemed necessary and as shall be authorized by the legislative body. Such department, agency or employee may be reimbursed for any expenses incurred as a result of such assistance.
(d) 
Hearing appeals. Except as otherwise provided by local law or ordinance, the jurisdiction of the Board of Appeals shall be appellate only and shall be limited to hearing and deciding appeals from and reviewing any order, requirement, decision, interpretation or determination made by the administrative official charged with the enforcement of any ordinance or local law adopted pursuant to this article. The concurring vote of a majority of the members of the Board of Appeals shall be necessary to reverse any order, requirement, decision or determination of any such administrative official, or to grant a use variance or area variance. Such appeal may be taken by any person aggrieved, or by an officer, department, board or bureau of the City.
(e) 
Time of appeal. Such appeal shall be taken within 60 days after the filing of any order, requirement, decision, interpretation or determination of the administrative official charged with the enforcement of such ordinance or local law by filing with such administrative official and with the Board of Appeals a notice of appeal, specifying the grounds thereof and the relief sought. The administrative official from whom the appeal is taken shall forthwith transmit to the Board of Appeals all the papers constituting the record upon which the action appealed from was taken.
(f) 
Stay upon appeal. An appeal shall stay all proceedings in furtherance of the action appealed from, unless the administrative official charged with the enforcement of such ordinance or local law, from whom the appeal is taken, certifies to the Board of Appeals, after the notice of appeal shall have been filed with the administrative official, that by reason of facts stated in the certificate a stay would, in the official's opinion, cause imminent peril to life or property, in which case proceedings shall not be stayed otherwise than by a restraining order which may be granted by the Board of Appeals or by a court of record on application, on notice to the administrative official from whom the appeal is taken and on due cause shown.
(g) 
Hearing on appeal. The Board of Appeals shall fix a reasonable time for the hearing of the appeal or other matter referred to it and give public notice of such hearing by publication in a paper of general circulation in the City at least five days prior to the date thereof. 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 of Appeals prior to the hearing of such appeal. Upon the hearing, any party may appear in person, or by agent or attorney.
(h) 
Time of decision. The Board of Appeals shall decide upon the appeal within 62 days after the conduct of said hearing. The time within which the Board of Appeals must render its decision may be extended by mutual consent of the applicant and the Board of Appeals.
(i) 
Filing of decision and notice. The decision of the Board of Appeals on the appeal shall be filed in the office of the City Clerk or the zoning office, if such office has been established, within 30 days after the day such decision is rendered, and a copy thereof mailed to the applicant.
(j) 
Notice to park commission or planning agency. At least five days before such hearing, the Board of Appeals shall mail notice thereof to the parties; to the regional state park commission having jurisdiction over any state park or parkway within 500 feet of the property affected by such appeal; and to the county, metropolitan or regional planning agency, as required by § 239-m of the General Municipal Law, which notice shall be accompanied by a full statement of the matter under consideration, as defined in Subdivision 1 of § 239-m of the General Municipal Law.
(k) 
Compliance with State Environmental Quality Review Act. The Board of Appeals shall comply with the provisions of the State Environmental Quality Review Act under Article 8 of the Environmental Conservation Law and its implementing regulations.
(l) 
Rehearing. A motion for the Board of Appeals to hold a rehearing to review any order, decision or determination of the Board of Appeals not previously reviewed may be made by any member of the Board of Appeals. A unanimous vote of all members of the Board of Appeals then present is required for such rehearing to occur. Such rehearing is subject to the same notice provisions as an original hearing. Upon such rehearing the Board of Appeals may reverse, modify or annul its original order, decision or determination upon the unanimous vote of all members present, provided that the Board of Appeals finds that the rights vested in persons acting in good faith in reliance upon the reviewed order, decision or determination will not be prejudiced thereby.
(2) 
Specific City procedure. In addition to the above procedures, the following procedures shall govern the Board of Appeals:
(a) 
Requests by applicant for recommendations. Prior to seeking an area variance, an applicant may also request a recommendation on a proposed variance request from any City board or commission with expertise on an issue being considered and include that recommendation in the appeal to the Board of Appeals.
(b) 
Required information. Every appeal for relief shall set forth the interpretation that is claimed or the details of the variance applied for and the grounds for which it is claimed that the variance should be granted, as the case may be. Appeals shall be in writing, on forms prescribed by the Board of Appeals, and shall be filed with the Secretary of the Board. The applicant shall provide a site plan and such other drawings and/or additional information as are necessary for the Board of Appeals to properly consider the appeal for relief.
[Amended 7-3-2019 by Ord. No. 2019-13]
(c) 
Continuances. The Board of Appeals may, on its own motion or upon request by the applicant, continue the hearing.
(d) 
Fees.
[Amended 1-29-2003 by Ord. No. 2003-2]
[1] 
Area variances for deck or swimming pool, one- and two-family dwellings: $50;
[2] 
All other area variances for one- and two-family dwellings: $100.
[3] 
Area variances for multiple residence buildings, commercial properties, or sign variances: $150.
[4] 
Appeals of interpretation of Director of Zoning Administration or the Designee of the Director of Planning and Development: $150.
[Amended 6-5-2013 by Ord. No. 2013-15[4]]
[4]
Editor's Note: This ordinance provided for an effective date of 1-1-2014.
[5] 
All use variances: $300.
[6] 
Special permit applications for accessory apartments, bed-and-breakfast homes, and home occupations: $100.
[Amended 7-3-2019 by Ord. No. 2019-13]
[7] 
All other special permit applications (including bed-and-breakfast inns): $150.
[Amended 7-3-2019 by Ord. No. 2019-13]
(e) 
Notices to the public. If a variance or interpretation requested, the appellant shall send notice of the same by mail to all property owners within 200 feet of the boundaries of the lot under consideration. Such notice shall state the relief sought, the type of use contemplated and such additional information as shall be required by the Zoning Administrator or the designee of the Director of Planning and Development and shall be mailed five days prior to the meeting of the Planning Board which next precedes the public hearing. Proof of such mailing shall be filed with the Board of Appeals prior to the holding of the public hearing.
[Amended 6-5-2013 by L.L. No. 7-2013[5]; 7-3-2019 by Ord. No. 2019-13]
[5]
Editor's Note: This local law passed at referendum on 11-5-2013.
(f) 
Report by the City Planning and Development Board. At least seven days before any meeting of the Planning and Development Board which precedes the date of the hearing required by law on any appeal to the Board of Appeals, the Secretary of the Board shall transmit to the Planning and Development Board a copy of said appeal, together with a copy of the notice of the aforesaid hearing. When a variance or interpretation is requested, no Board of Appeals action thereon shall be taken until the Planning and Development Board has had the opportunity to submit a report as to conformance with long-range planning objectives. The Planning and Development Board shall have the right to request that action by the Board of Appeals be adjourned for one month to allow the Planning and Development Board to submit such a report as to conformance with long-range planning objectives.
[Amended 7-3-2019 by Ord. No. 2019-13]
(g) 
Publication of notices. Notice of a public hearing on appeals and adjourned or rescheduled hearings on said appeals shall be given by publication twice in the official newspaper of the City of Ithaca, which notice shall state the relief sought, the appellant's name and the location of the property and the date of said hearing. The first notice shall be not less than five days before the date of the public hearing.
(h) 
Decision of the Board of Appeals. Every decision of the Board of Appeals shall contain a full record of the findings of the Board in the particular case and a written summary of the evidence presented at the hearing.
(i) 
Rules and regulations. The Board of Appeals shall adopt from time to time such rules and regulations as it may deem necessary to carry into effect the provisions of this chapter, and all its orders and resolutions shall be in accordance therewith. These rules and regulations shall be in effect when filed with the City Clerk.
C. 
Board of Appeals; variances.
[Amended 7-3-2019 by Ord. No. 2019-13]
(1) 
Orders, requirements, decisions, interpretations, determinations. The 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.
(2) 
Use variances.
(a) 
The Board of Appeals, on appeal from the decision or determination of the administrative official charged with the enforcement of such ordinance or local law, shall have the power to grant use variances, as defined herein.
(b) 
No such use variance shall be granted by the 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] 
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] 
The requested use variance, if granted, will not alter the essential character of the neighborhood; and
[4] 
The alleged hardship has not been self-created.
(c) 
The Board of Appeals, in the granting of use variances, shall grant the minimum variance that it shall deem necessary and adequate to address the unnecessary hardship proven by the applicant, and at the same time preserve and protect the character of the neighborhood and the health, safety and welfare of the community.
(3) 
Area variances.
(a) 
The Board of Appeals shall have the power, upon an appeal from a decision or determination of the administrative official charged with the enforcement of such ordinance or local law, to grant area variances as defined herein.
(b) 
In making its determination, the 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 of Appeals 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.
(c) 
In making its determination, the Board of Appeals may also take into consideration the following factors. If the applicant wishes the Board of Appeals to consider any of these additional factors, the burden of proof is on the applicant to clearly identify the factor and to submit sufficient evidence to establish that this factor applies.
[1] 
Whether the requested variance represents a relatively minor deviation from the area requirements in question.
[2] 
Whether a substantial positive change will be produced in the character of the neighborhood.
[3] 
Whether granting the variance will increase the accessibility or adaptability for handicapped or disabled persons.
[4] 
Whether granting the variance will have a positive impact on the amount, type, price or location of the City's supply of affordable housing; in order for the Board to consider this factor, the applicant must demonstrate that there exists a binding legal obligation to provide housing, for a period not less than 15 years, which is affordable to low- or moderate-income families or individuals, as defined by federal regulations or other clearly recognized standards.
[5] 
Whether granting the variance will enhance or foster the preservation of the scenic or natural beauty of the area, its architectural character, historic resources or other rare or irreplaceable features.
(d) 
The Board of Appeals, in the granting of area 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.
(4) 
Imposition of conditions. The Board of Appeals shall, in the granting of use variances and area variances, have the authority to impose such reasonable conditions and restrictions as are directly related to and incidental to the proposed use of the property. Such conditions shall be consistent with the spirit and intent of this chapter and shall be imposed for the purpose of minimizing any adverse impact such variance may have on the neighborhood or community.
(5) 
Expiration of variances.
(a) 
When an area variance is granted by the Board of Appeals which enables an applicant to do construction which requires a building permit or a use variance is granted by the Board of Appeals and construction which requires a building permit is necessary for conversion to the use for which the variance is granted, and the applicant has not obtained a building permit to construct the building or part thereof for which the variance has been granted and initiated the construction work within two years from the date of the granting of the variance, said variance shall become void.
(b) 
When an area variance is granted by the Board of Appeals which enables an applicant to do construction which requires a building permit, or a use variance is granted by the Board of Appeals and construction which requires a building permit is necessary for conversion to the use for which the variance is granted and a building permit to construct the building or part thereof for which the variance has been granted has been obtained, and the construction has not been substantially completed prior to the expiration of the building permit, said variance shall become void.
(c) 
When a use variance is granted by the Board of Appeals and no construction which requires a building permit is necessary for conversion to the use for which the variance is granted and the applicant has not obtained a certificate of occupancy for the use for which the variance was granted within two years from the date of the granting of the variance, the variance shall become void.
(6) 
Appeals. Appeals from decisions of the Board of Appeals shall be made under Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules and shall be governed by § 81-c of the General City Law.
[1]
Editor's Note: Former § 325-41, Design review, added 4-26-1979 by Ord. No. 79-6, as amended, was repealed 12-7-2011 by Ord. No. 2011-14. See now Ch. 60, Design Review.