1. Legislative findings and intent. The legislature hereby finds and determines that:
(a) significant decisions and actions affecting the immediate and long-range protection, enhancement, growth and development of the state and its communities are made by county planning boards.
(b) county planning boards serve as an important resource to the state and its localities, helping to establish productive linkages between communities as well as with state and federal agencies.
(c) through comprehensive planning and special studies, county planning boards focus on opportunities and issues best handled at a county-wide scale.
(d) the development of a county comprehensive plan can foster cooperation among governmental agencies in the planning and implementation of capital projects. Similarly, county comprehensive plans can promote intermunicipal cooperation in the provision of public services.
(e) citizen participation is essential to the design and implementation of a county comprehensive plan.
(f) the great diversity of resources and conditions that exist within and among counties requires consideration of such factors by county planning boards.
(g) it is the intent of the legislature therefore, to provide a permissive and flexible framework within which county planning boards can perform their power and duties.
1-a. Alternate members of county planning boards. (a) A county legislative body may, by local law or as a part of the local law creating the county planning board, establish alternate planning board member positions for purposes of substituting for a member in the event such member is unable to participate because of a conflict of interest. Alternate members of the county planning board shall be appointed by resolution of the county legislative body, for terms established by such legislative body.
(b) The chairperson of the planning board may designate an alternate member to substitute for a member when such member is unable to participate because of a conflict of interest on an application or matter before the board. When so designated, the alternate member shall possess all the powers and responsibilities of such member of the board. Such designation shall be entered into the minutes of the initial planning board meeting at which the substitution is made.
(c) All provisions of this section relating to county planning board member training and continuing education, attendance, conflict of interest, compensation, eligibility, vacancy in office, removal, and service on other boards, shall also apply to alternate members.
2. Establishment of county planning board. (a) Creation. In the absence of a county administrative code or county charter which may otherwise provide for the creation of a county planning board, the county legislative body alone, or in collaboration with the legislative bodies of the municipalities in such county may establish a county planning board.
(b) Membership. Members and officers of such board shall be selected in a number and manner determined by the county legislative body. In making such appointments, the county legislative body shall include members from a broad cross section of interests within the county. Consideration should also be given to securing representation by population size, geographic location and type of municipality. The terms of membership as well as the filling of vacancies on such board shall be determined by the county legislative body. The county legislative body may provide for the appointment of individuals to serve as ex-officio members of the county planning board. Said ex-officio members or their designees may participate in the deliberations of the county planning board, but shall not have voting privileges.
(c) Membership of elected or appointed officials. No person shall be precluded from serving as a member of a county planning board, as appointed by the county legislative body pursuant to this section, because such member is an elected or appointed official of the county or a municipality. A member of a county planning board shall excuse himself or herself from any deliberation or vote relating to a matter or proposal before such county planning board which is or has been the subject of a proposal, application or vote before the municipal board of which he or she is a member.
(d) Training and attendance requirements. (i) Each member of a county planning board shall complete, at a minimum, four hours of training each year designed to enable such members to more effectively carry out their duties. Training received by a member in excess of four hours in any one year may be carried over by the member into succeeding years in order to meet the requirements of this paragraph. Such training shall be approved by the county and may include, but not be limited to, training provided by a regional or county planning office or commission, county planning federation, state agency, statewide municipal association, college or other similar entity. Training may be provided in a variety of formats, including but not limited to, electronic media, video, distance learning and traditional classroom training.
(ii) To be eligible for reappointment to such board, such member shall have completed the training promoted by the county pursuant to this paragraph.
(iii) The training required by this paragraph may be waived or modified by the county when, in the judgment of the governing board, it is in the best interest of the county to do so.
(iv) No decision of a county planning board shall be voided or declared invalid because of a failure to comply with this paragraph.
(e) Member reimbursement. The members of such county planning board shall receive no salary or compensation for their services as members of such board but may be reimbursed for authorized, actual and necessary travel and expenditures.
(f) Removal of members. The county legislative body may remove any member of such planning board for cause, and may provide by resolution for removal of any planning board member for non-compliance with minimum requirements relating to meeting attendance and training as established by the county legislative body by resolution.
(g) By-laws. The county planning board shall adopt by-laws governing its operation, which shall be approved by the county legislative body and shall keep a record of its resolutions, transactions, findings and determinations, which record shall be a public record.
(h) Appropriation; expenses. The county legislative body and municipal legislative bodies may, in their discretion, appropriate and raise by taxation, money for the expenses of such county planning board. Such bodies shall not be charged for any expense incurred by such board except pursuant to such appropriation. The county planning board shall have the power and authority to employ staff, consultants and other experts and to pay for their services, and to provide for such other expenses as may be necessary and proper, not to exceed the appropriation that may be made therefor by the county legislative body for such county planning board.
(i) Authority to receive and expend funds. In furtherance of the purposes of this article, the county planning board may receive and expend public funds and grants from private foundations or agencies and may apply for and accept grants from the federal government or the state government and enter into contracts for and agree to accept such grants, donations or subsidies in accordance with such reasonable conditions and requirements as may be imposed thereon.
3. County planning board powers and duties. (a) Review of certain municipal planning and zoning actions. The county legislative body may, by resolution, authorize the county planning board to conduct reviews of certain classes of planning and zoning actions by a city, town or village within such county pursuant to sections two hundred thirty-nine-l and two hundred thirty-nine-m of this article, and to review certain subdivision plats pursuant to section two hundred thirty-nine-n of this article.
(b) County comprehensive plan. The county legislative body may request the county planning board to assist in the preparation of a county comprehensive plan and amendments thereto pursuant to section two hundred thirty-nine-d of this article.
(c) County official map. The county legislative body may request the county planning board to prepare a county official map and amendments thereto pursuant to section two hundred thirty-nine-e of this article.
(d) County studies. The county planning board may undertake studies relevant to the future growth, development, and protection of the county and municipalities therein, including studies in support of a county comprehensive plan.
(e) Local studies. The county planning board may assist a city, town, or village in the study of ways to obtain economy, efficiency and quality in the planning and provision of municipal services.
(f) Collection and distribution of information. The county planning board may collect and distribute information relative to county or municipal planning and zoning in such county. Upon request from the county or a municipality the planning board may recommend to the legislative body of the county or such municipalities whose jurisdictions are served by the county planning board a comprehensive plan which shall designate suitable areas to be zoned for land uses, taking into consideration, but not limited to, such factors as existing and projected highways, parks, open spaces, parkways, public works, public utilities, public transportation terminals and facilities, population trends, topography and geologic structure.
(g) Local technical assistance. The county planning board may furnish such technical services as a municipality within the county may request. Such services may include, but not be limited to assistance with planning and land use functions, use of geographic information systems, infrastructure development, as well as inter-municipal services delivery, and may be provided directly by the county planning board or in coordination with other county departments or agencies. The charges, if any, to be made for such services shall be established by the county legislative body.
(h) Highway construction. Before the final approval of any plan involving the construction or reconstruction of any state or county highway, with or without federal aid, the county planning board shall be given an opportunity to examine such plans and offer suggestions with respect thereto. This paragraph shall in no manner be construed as nullifying or contravening the final approval of the commissioner of transportation.
4. Annual report. The county planning board shall submit an annual report to the county legislative body and include in such report topics that are required in the by-laws of the county planning board.
5. Voting requirements. Every motion or resolution of a county planning board shall require for its adoption the affirmative vote of a majority of all the members of the county planning board.
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