[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Southeast 8-10-2000 by L.L. No. 4-2000. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The Town Board of the Town of Southeast hereby finds that it is in the best interests of the citizens of the Town of Southeast and protective of their health, safety and economic and general welfare to enact this chapter for the creation of an Architectural Review Board (hereinafter referred to as "ARB") empowered to ensure high standards for the visual environment of the Town of Southeast. The Town Board hereby finds that effective action by the ARB in inhibiting development deleterious to the visual environment will prevent loss of tax revenue to the Town of Southeast which it would otherwise receive and will prevent destruction of the proper balance between the taxable value of real property and the cost of Town services provided therefor. It is the intent of the Town Board to prevent excessive uniformity of exterior building design in commercial, municipal, recreational or residential structures where such uniformity shall be deemed inappropriate and detrimental to the visual environment. It is also the intent of the Town Board to prevent excessive dissimilarity of exterior building design in commercial, municipal, recreational or residential structures where such dissimilarity shall be deemed inappropriate and detrimental to the visual environment. It is the intent of the Town Board to preserve the aesthetic value of natural and man-made features and structures and to prevent the harmful effects of potentially unattractive or inappropriate projects and the use of potentially unattractive or inappropriate building materials insofar as they may affect the visual environment. The Town Board finds that it benefits the interest of public welfare to ensure high standards of quality of design for commercial, municipal, recreational and residential structures, exterior landscaping and development planning and hereby enacts this chapter to achieve the above-stated purposes.
The ARB shall be appointed by the Town Board and shall consist of five members, all of whom shall be residents of the Town of Southeast. No member of the ARB shall be an officer or employee of the Town of Southeast. The term of office shall be three years, with expirations of terms to occur according to the following rotation: one member shall be appointed for an initial term of one year; two members shall be appointed for an initial term of two years; and two members shall be appointed for an initial term of three years. Members shall serve with compensation as determined by the Town Board. The Town Board shall fill vacancies for unexpired terms of any members whose positions on the ARB shall become vacant.
One member of the ARB shall be designated by the Town Board as Chairman of the ARB and shall serve as Chairman at the pleasure of the Town Board. A new Chairman, or reappointed Chairman, shall be designated by every new Town Board at its regular biennial reorganization meeting in the January following local elections.
The members shall be chosen for qualification and formal or informal training in the fields of landscape architecture, interior or exterior design, municipal planning, municipal government, other professionally or aesthetically related disciplines or civic interest.
[Amended 8-18-2005 by L.L. No. 5-2005]
The Town Board may appoint any citizen of the Town of Southeast to be recording secretary of the ARB. The ARB shall keep minutes of all proceedings. The minutes shall be typewritten. The minutes shall show the vote of each member on every question. If a member is absent or fails to vote upon a motion, the minutes shall indicate that fact. Minutes of proceedings shall be approved by the ARB and initialed by the Chairman of the ARB at the next regularly scheduled meeting of the ARB and shall be submitted to the Town Clerk within two business days of that approval. Approved minutes of the ARB proceedings shall be available for public inspection.
Any three members of the ARB shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business. The ARB shall operate under such rules and regulations as it may adopt insofar as they do not supersede any requirements of this chapter and insofar as they guarantee due process to any applicant. The ARB shall schedule meetings at regular intervals no less frequently than once monthly and in accordance with all provisions of the New York State Open Meetings Law, with the proviso that no meeting shall be required if no cases have been placed on the agenda as of five business days prior to the scheduled meeting start. Applications must be submitted to the Planning Department not less than two weeks prior to a regularly scheduled meeting of the ARB to be placed on an agenda.
Editor's Note: See Article 7 of the Public Officers Law.
The Chairman or Acting Chairman of the ARB shall have the authority to convene special sessions of the ARB. Forty-eight hours' notice of such a meeting must be provided to all members. The ARB shall not meet in executive session. All ARB proceedings shall be open to the public. The public and the press shall receive notification of all planned proceedings of the ARB in accordance with the provisions of the New York State Open Meetings Law.
The Chairman of the ARB may appoint any member of the ARB to be Acting Chairman for any meeting, which may be held during the temporary absence or temporary incapacity of the Chairman. Should the Chairman fail to make this designation, the position of Acting Chairman shall be assumed by the most senior member of the ARB in terms of service on that Board. The Chairman or, in his absence, the Acting Chairman may administer oaths.
The Building Inspector, Code Enforcement Officer, the Town Engineer or any consultant designated by the Town Board of the Town of Southeast shall act in an advisory capacity to the ARB and may act on the advice of the ARB but shall not be considered members of the ARB. Decisions of the ARB shall be the result of a majority vote of those members present and voting.
[Amended 11-18-2004 by L.L. No. 12-2004; 6-23-2011 by L.L. No. 7-2011; 1-10-2019 by L.L. No. 1-2019]
The ARB shall review and advise on all plans in the following categories:
The Planning Board shall seek the advice of the ARB on all plans for all commercial projects classified as a "major project" as defined in Chapter 138. The ARB shall provide an advisory report to the Town Board prior to Planning Board site plan approval.
The Planning Board shall seek the advice of the ARB on plans for any application classified as a "minor project" as defined in Chapter 138 that involves exterior modifications to an existing structure for which the Building Inspector estimates the cost to be in excess of $5,000, and all new structures. All other minor projects would be referred to the ARB at the Planning Board's discretion. If ARB review is required or sought, the ARB shall provide an advisory report to the Planning Board prior to site plan or conditional use permit approval.
The Town Board shall seek the advice of the ARB on all Town of Southeast municipal or recreational structures and facilities construction projects which may affect the visual environment, including but not limited to the construction of new Town of Southeast municipal facilities.
The Zoning Board shall seek the advice of the ARB when reviewing commercial projects which may affect the visual environment.
Plans for new residential structures in existing residential subdivisions of five or more lots or proposed subdivisions filed with the Planning Board.
Plans for exterior alterations or exterior additions, including the addition or replacement of fences and stone walls, but excluding general maintenance or the in-kind replacement of existing materials, to commercial properties, for which the Building Inspector estimates the cost to be in excess of $5,000.
Plans in which approval of design and specifications have been legally and specifically delegated to the Town Board and/or the Planning Board may be exempt from mandated ARB review, with the exception of site plan approvals as designated in Subsection A(1). The Town Board and/or the Planning Board may, at its discretion, request ARB review in the case of such plans.
Applications shall be submitted to the Planning Department not less than two weeks prior to regularly scheduled meetings of the ARB.
Agendas and site locations shall be sent to the members of the ARB by Planning Department secretarial staff five business days in advance of the meeting.
The ARB shall render its decisions on the basis of its adopted rules and regulations with full regard for all requirements of due process and the following guidelines. The Planning Board shall collate essential plans and information for the purpose of presenting cases to the ARB. Such essential plans and information shall include but not necessarily be limited to:
Planning Board file.
Building Department file, including files on all previously approved buildings in the immediate vicinity.
Scale plans and elevations showing the nature of construction and the use of materials to be incorporated in the exterior of the project, exterior building treatments, including but not limited to siding, roofing, color, windows, porches and porticos.
Site plan, at a scale deemed appropriate by the Planning Department, showing contours at two-foot intervals and the project location, including all setbacks, yards, driveways, parking areas and adjacent homes, site plan details to include:
Area map showing surrounding streets and lots, at a scale deemed appropriate by the Planning Department.
Three-dimensional sketch or rendering illustrating significant aspects of construction and exterior design, when deemed necessary and requested by the ARB and at a scale deemed appropriate by the ARB.
Insofar as is possible and whenever deemed necessary by the Chairman of the ARB, members of the ARB shall visit the site of proposed construction.
The Planning Department shall encourage submission by applicants of preliminary designs for ARB review and comment prior to final design submission to preclude the financial burden of completing drawings of designs that may be questionable.
The ARB shall report its decision on each major project referred to it, in writing, to the Town Board within 45 days of its first regular meeting following receipt of a complete application for approval. The ARB shall report its decision on each minor project referred to it, in writing, to the Planning Board within 45 days of its first regular meeting following receipt of a complete application for approval. Copies of such reports are to be distributed to any agency of the Town of Southeast concerned with the project under consideration. A copy of each such report shall be placed in the Planning Board file and in the permanent ARB file and shall be filed with the Town Clerk for posting in a public place for a period of 30 days. Unless otherwise determined by resolution of the Town Board for a major project or the Planning Board for a minor project, the determination of the ARB shall constitute the basis on which the application is approved, approved with conditions, or disapproved. A determination by the ARB resulting in an "action reserved" finding shall not require submission of a report or review by the Town Board for a major project or the Planning Board for a minor project.
[Amended 11-18-2004 by L.L. No. 12-2004; 6-23-2011 by L.L. No. 7-2011]
The advisory report of the ARB shall be made available to the applicant within seven days of the date at which any decision has been made. The ARB may make the following findings:
"Approved." This finding shall be indicative that the plan will not be detrimental to the visual environment, meets the standards required by the Town of Southeast and may proceed through prescribed channels with the approval of the ARB.
"Approved with conditions." This finding shall be indicative that the plan will meet the standards of the "approved" category with minor adjustments. Projects in this category may be issued a building permit with the requirement that those adjustments be made and documented to the satisfaction of the Building Inspector. Further review and approval by the ARB shall not be required in these cases.
"Action reserved." This finding shall be indicative that insufficient information is available to the ARB for a final decision. In such a case, the ARB shall indicate what additional information shall be required. The Building Inspector shall receive that data from the applicant and shall replace the matter on the agenda for consideration at the earliest possible time.
"Disapproved." This finding shall be indicative that the plan is found to be detrimental to the visual environment and beneath the standards of design required by the Town of Southeast. The disapproved plan is to be returned to the applicant and to the referring agency, accompanied by a written explanation of the reasons for the disapproval.
The ARB may make a determination of excessive similarity or excessive dissimilarity under one or more of the following conditions:
Excessive similarity to any other structure existing or for which a building permit has been issued or to any other structure included in the same permit application, facing upon the same or an intersecting street and within 1,000 feet of the proposed site, as measured along the center lines of streets, in residential districts and within 500 feet of the proposed site in any district other than residential, in respect to one or more of the following features of exterior design or appearance: apparently identical front, side or other elevation visible from a street; substantially identical size and arrangement of either doors, windows, porticos or other openings or breaks in the elevation facing the street, including reverse arrangement; other significant identical features of design, including but not limited to material, roofline, height or other design elements, provided that a finding of excessive similarity shall not only state that such similarity exists but that it is of such a nature as to be reasonably expected to provoke one or more of the harmful effects as described in § 3-1 of this chapter.
Excessive dissimilarity or inappropriateness in relation to any other structures existing or for which a building permit has been issued or to any other structure included in the same permit application, facing upon the same or an intersecting street within 1,000 feet of the proposed site, as measured along the center lines of streets, in a residential district and within 500 feet of a proposed site in any district other than residential, in respect to one or more of the following features: cubical contents, gross floor area, height and other significant design features, including but not limited to materials or quality of architectural design, provided that a finding of excessive dissimilarity shall not only state that such dissimilarity exists but that it is of such a nature as to be reasonably expected to provoke one or more of the harmful effects as described in § 3-1 of this chapter and that the finding shall not be based on personal preference, taste or choice of architectural style.
The ARB shall make every effort to avoid undue financial hardship on any applicant in support of the intent of this chapter. However, the factor of increased construction cost will not automatically be considered indicative of undue hardship or excessive standards. It is not the responsibility of the ARB to provide design services to applicants.
Any plan disapproved by the ARB and accompanied by the report supporting that disapproval shall be returned to the applicant by the Planning Board. It is the intent of this chapter that such a plan be resubmitted to the ARB for reconsideration and approval when it has been appropriately modified to meet stated objections.
Failure of the ARB to report to the referring agency and/or the Town Clerk within 60 days of its first regular meeting following receipt of the application and all necessary plans and information required for approval shall be construed as indication that the ARB has no objection to the proposal and intends to issue approval.
Any substantial change in siting or in the existing appearance of an approved project may be subject to review and reconsideration by the ARB, at the discretion of the Building Inspector and/or the Chairman of the ARB.
The ARB may, on its own initiative, issue reports concerning and/or recommending programs or legislation in the interest of preserving or improving the visual environment.
The Chairman of the ARB shall report annually and in writing to the Town Board on the state of the visual environment and shall make such recommendations as the ARB deems advisable, that report to be received by the Town Board at its first regular meeting in the month of October.
The ARB shall have no powers of enforcement other than its mandate to approve or disapprove plans presented to it. The ARB report shall be a necessary requirement for completing an application for building permit or an application made to the Planning Board under § 3-3, Jurisdiction. Unless repudiated by appeal, as outlined in § 3-7 of this chapter, decisions of the ARB represent the official position of the Town and its elected Town Board in the effort to maintain high standards for the visual environment as noted in § 3-1 of this chapter.
Any person aggrieved by an action of the ARB may take an appeal therefrom to the Zoning Board of Appeals of the Town of Southeast in the same manner as is provided for in the case of appeals regarding zoning requirements. The Zoning Board of Appeals, after proceeding in the same manner as is provided for other appeals before it and with the same power and authority now vested in it under the provisions of law, may affirm, modify or reverse an appealed action of the ARB.