South Hill TND | regulating plan review process

The following text is a step-by-step description of the regulating plan review process, taken from Article 8 (planning actions and approvals) of the New Neighborhood Code (Town of Ithaca Town Code, Chapter 272).

The text has cross-references to other parts of the New Neighborhood Code ("See §272-[x]") that explain the associated term or concept (neighborhood units, thoroughfare types, storefront frontage areas, and so on).  (We encourage you to download a copy of the New Neighborhood Code if you want to see where the cross-references point to.)

The South Hill TND proposal is at the late concept review stage (§272-802.3 B 4), as of 28 October 2021. After late concept review, formal application, and the environmental review and regulating plan approval/rezoning process (§272-802.3 C), may start.

272-802 Regulating plan

272-802.1 Overview

A regulating plan is a master development and zoning plan for a TND project. The subdivision process may happen after the Town Board approves a regulating plan. (The subdivision process is in § 272-803.)

272-802.2 Regulating plan items

(1) A regulating plan must have these items.

  • Bounding area, and current lot lines.
  • Neighborhood unit boundaries. (See § 272-303.)
  • Transect zone location, boundaries, and area. (See § 272-203 - § 272-206, § 272-305.)
  • Thoroughfare location and type. (See § 272-306, § 272-307.)
  • Park sites, types, and area. (See § 272-308.)
  • Civic building sites (if any). (See § 272-403.18)
  • Required storefront frontage areas (if any). (See § 272-404.2 D.)
  • Plan for stormwater management, if it is on a neighborhood scale. (See § 272-310.)
  • Estimated housing density.

(2) A regulating plan may have other elements to:

  • apply best planning practices;
  • create a specific built outcome or character;
  • use natural or built site features to their best advantage; or
  • better meet the intentions of the Comprehensive Plan.

These are some examples.

  • Terminating vista or view corridor locations.
  • Street frontages where buildings must have a specific frontage feature. (See § 272-404.2 for frontage features.)
  • A pattern book; or added architecture, landscaping, or site planning standards.
  • Historic buildings or structures, and laws that apply to them.
  • Emergency response routes.

(3) A regulating plan may have a development agreement that sets:

  • terms for how development and infrastructure improvements will go ahead; and
  • rights and responsibilities of the applicant, Town, and other involved parties.

(4) A regulating plan may show building or lot locations, but they are nonbinding. Subdivision lot sites, building/lot type and disposition requirements, and later approved site plans (if applicable), control building location.

(5) The development concept in a regulating plan should follow the outcome of the charrette or sketch plan review, where possible. However, it must:

  • meet relevant requirements in this code; and
  • be workable, given the size, shape, location, topography, and natural features of the site.

272-802.3 Process

272-802.3 A Requesting a regulating plan

A regulating plan may apply to an area where the Town envisions walkable mixed use development. These parties may ask for a regulating plan.

  • Property owner, group of owners, controlling interest, or an agent: full TND (§ 272-304.2) or partial TND (§ 272-304).
  • Owners of ≥ 50% of the subject land area: full TND only.
  • Town Board, or Town staff on their behalf, in an official capacity: full or partial TND

272-802.3 B Before formal review

(1) Pre-application review

Pre-application review is an informal meeting between Town representatives, and the applicant for a regulating plan, at the concept stage of a TND proposal. The meeting lets the applicant and the Town consider and discuss these topics.

  • The basic concept, scope, and intent of a project.
  • Relevant requirements.
  • The submittal and review process.
  • Potential issues or problems, preferences for development, and alternatives.

(2) Early concept review

Concept plan review is a public meeting (not a public hearing) between a review body (Town Board, or a committee they choose), Town staff, and the applicant for a regulating plan, at the early formative stage of a possible TND proposal. The meeting lets Town staff and Town Board members consider and discuss (1) concept plans; and (2) possible issues, outcomes, and alternatives.

(3) Design charrette

A design charrette is a multi-day open planning process. During a charrette, stakeholders take part in a series of collaborative design exercises. A design team drafts a plan based on the outcome of those exercises, stakeholder comments, and the neighborhood and site design requirements of this code.

A partial TND needs a design charrette if the Town Board, review committee, or Town staff finds the complexity or scope of the proposal, or the difficulty of integrating it into a future full TND, justifies or would benefit from a collaborative design process.

A full TND needs a design charrette.

Planning staff must approve the charrette structure. This includes format, agenda, schedule, location, stakeholders, public outreach, and how to make Planning staff aware of its progress and outcome. The charrette structure should follow model strategies from the National Charrette Institute (NCI).

The resulting plan must be workable, and meet all relevant requirements of this code. However, it is advisory, and not binding.

(4) Late concept review

Late concept plan review is a public meeting (not a public hearing) between a review body (Town Board, or a committee they choose), Town staff, and an applicant for a regulating plan, at the late formative stage of a possible TND proposal. The meeting lets the applicant and the Town:
  • discuss the outcome of the charrette (if any);
  • review, discuss, and suggest changes to the charrette results or late concept plan, so the proposed regulating plan meets this code, the intentions of the Comprehensive Plan, and good planning practice; and
  • discuss the formal review process.
Discussions and outcomes of late concept review are advisory and nonbinding.

272-802.3 C Regulating plan review

The regulating plan review process generally follows:

  • the rezoning process in the Zoning Code (§ 270-179 - § 270-181: creation of new zones);
  • requirements of New York State Town Law (Town Law § 264 - § 270-265) and General Municipal Law for rezoning; and
  • the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA).

Public notification follows requirements of New York State Town Law and General Municipal Law.

(1) Application and submittal

The Planning Department receives applications for a regulating plan. The review and decision period starts when Planning staff finds the application is complete.

An application is complete when the applicant:

  • completes all necessary forms, including any SEQRA-related forms;
  • submits all required plans and support materials; and
  • pays all fees and public notice costs.

Application requirements are in a separate guide.

(2) Staff review

Planning staff may refer the proposed regulating plan to other affected or interested departments for review. The departments must return comments or recommendations to Planning staff within 14 days of referral.

(3) Planning Board review

Planning staff will send the application and a staff report to the Planning Board.

The Planning Board will hold a public hearing on the proposed regulating plan. The Planning Board will recommend (1) approval, (2) approval with modifications or conditions, or (3) disapproval of the regulating plan proposal. The recommendation is advisory and nonbinding.

The Planning Board will send the application and their recommendation to the Town Board.

(4) Town Board review

The Town Board will hold a public hearing on the proposed regulating plan after review by the Planning Board. 

The Town Board will (1) approve, (2) approve with modifications or conditions, or (3) disapprove the regulating plan proposal.

(5) Zoning and official map amendment

Town Board approval:

  • makes the regulating plan a binding master plan;
  • rezones the site to reflect transect zones on the regulating plan; and
  • adds thoroughfares on the regulating plan to the official Town map. (See official map regulations in NYS Town Law § 270 and § 273.)

272-802.4 Changes and additions

272-802.4 A Changes

The Planning Director (or their designee) may review and decide about these minor changes to a regulating plan, if those changes meet criteria for an administrative adjustment (see § 272-805.2).

  • Shift a planned thoroughfare ≤ 50’ from its original centerline.
  • Shift a planned park, or civic area location or edge, ≤ 50’ from its original location.
  • Add or change a traffic calming feature.
  • Add or change bike lane location.
  • Change a thoroughfare type.

Zone boundary criteria in Article 9 determine zoning district boundaries. (See § 272-903.7 for criteria.)

Otherwise, changes to a regulating plan need approval from the Town Board.