New York State has a "home-rule" form of local government. Under this system, land use and development decisions are controlled at the Town, Village and City levels.
Nearly all local municipalities in Jefferson County have some form of local land use control, typically through a Zoning Law or Development Code. A Zoning Law controls the type of land use and density of development that may occur in any particular area of a community. Each municipality with zoning has an appointed Zoning/Code Enforcement Officer that administers the Zoning Law. Typically, this individual is the best "first point of contact" for anyone proposing development within a municipality. The Zoning/Code Enforcement Officer will issue a zoning permit for permitted uses that comply with the Zoning Law.
Most communities also have a Planning Board that is often responsible for site plan reviews and the approval of special permits for specific uses identified in the Zoning Law.
Many communities also have subdivision regulations to manage the creation and arrangement of property parcels for new development. These regulations are administered by the Planning Board.
Each municipality with a Zoning Law must also have a Zoning Board of Appeals to consider appeals made to the Zoning Enforcement Officer, and to issue interpretations on the local Zoning Law.
Approval under the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code is usually required to ensure that standards and specifications for structural construction and fire safety are met. Usually, this approval is obtained after local zoning approval through a Uniform Code or Building Permit. In some cases, municipalities issue Zoning and Uniform Code approval at the same time. Each municipality determines whether it is responsible for the Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code approval, or if it chooses to opt-out to Jefferson County for administration of this Code.
In an effort to direct the public to the appropriate official to begin land use and development procedures, contact information for the officials and review bodies described above is provided for each Town and Village in Jefferson County as well as the City of Watertown, in the following links:
DISCLAIMER: Contact information shown is that available on the municipality's website as of March 2017. Please contact the clerk for the latest information or if not listed.