Zoning Board of Appeals
Primary Function and Purpose of a Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA)
The Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA), as an administrative body made up of laypersons appointed by the Town Board, does not have any legislative functions; these are the sole province of the Town Board. The ZBA therefore, does not impose zoning, nor does it have the authority to amend the zoning regulations or change the boundaries of the districts where they are applicable.
A zoning law is a community's guide to its future development. That is its purpose. It is not meant to be just another government intrusion, another bit of red tape to be untangled before a property owner can go ahead with his plans. The protection afforded residents and property owners within the community from undesirable development comes from the restrictiveness of zoning. Traditionally, zoning is characterized by pre-set regulations contained in local law, and applicable uniformly within each zoning district. In the Town of Vestal Code Manual, the zoning statutes and codes can be found in Chapter 24. A landowner can look at the zoning map and regulations and know that if he follows them, he has the right to use his land in a certain way, and that neighboring property is subject to the same restrictions. But, because all land in a zoning district is subject to the same rules, and because no two parcels of land are precisely the same, problems can arise.
The Zoning Board of Appeals is designed to function as a ''safety valve" to relieve the pressure of rigid and inflexible provisions of zoning codes and statutes and encompasses the power, if an appeal is properly taken to the board, to interpret the zoning ordinance or local law and to grant variances. All zoning boards of appeals are directly given appellate jurisdiction by state law (NYS Town Law 267-b). This zoning enabling statute provides zoning boards of appeals with the power to hear and decide appeals from and review decisions of the administrative official responsible for the enforcement of the zoning regulations. The statute specifically allows the ZBA to reverse or affirm, wholly or partly, or to modify the decisions appealed to it. In short, the ZBA's appelate jurisdiction allows the board to interpret the municipality's zoning regulations. The ZBA is also entrusted by local statutes to issue specific Special Use Permits and is guided by the standards set out in the local zoning laws which the board then applies to the application.
Zoning Board of Appeals Members
Jennifer Kakusian, Chair
Thomas Jackson, Jr.
Alternates: Eugene W. Burns
Attorney: Levene Gouldin & Thompson
ZBA Secretary - Carolyn Almy