Department Newsletter

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Summer 2018 Announcements

OC Planning Board Welcomes New Members

The Orange County Planning Board announced three new appointments at the August 14th meeting.  Joan Wolfe, Cleveland Best and Mary Jo Guinchard join remaining members Michael Sweeton, Timothy Gottlieb, David Niemotko, Joseph Joy and Elaine McClung (acting Chair) after four seats and the chairperson position were vacated at the end of last year. One vacancy remains. The OC Planning Board advises OC Planning Department staff on major planning studies and initiatives, including the update of the Orange Comprehensive Plan Strategies for Quality Communities. The Planning Board meets on the second Tuesday of every month.

Order Issued to Ensure Compliance with County Review Process

Effective August 1, 2018, County Executive, Steven M. Neuhaus, issued an Executive Order, requiring compliance with NYS General Municipal Law 239-m and 239-n prior to the issuance of related permits from County Public Works or Environmental Health.  This order ensures that if an application for a municipal planning or zoning permits requires review by the Orange County Planning Department, that the Planning Department receives the full environmental statement relating to such project prior to the issuance of any County permit.   Projects referred to County Planning and requiring other County approvals or permits from Public Works or Environmental Health, now must certify that County advisory comments or binding recommendations under Section 239-m and/or 239-n were considered, and that SEQRA was completed by a lead agency or municipal board. Such advisory comments and permit reviews now will also incorporate the consideration of the Orange County Complete Streets policy and Complete Streets elements.

 Actions referable under General Municipal Law 239 m and n, and/or subject to SEQR, will now require completion of this certification prior to issuance of a County permit.  The certification form will be included in applicant permit applications issued by the Department of Public Works, Department of Environmental Facilities & Services, and Department of Health.  County Planning is preparing guidance documents for distribution soon.

For questions regarding the new permit/239 review certification process, contact David Church, AICP, Commissioner, or Fred Budde, Senior Planner, Orange County Planning Department at (845) 615-3840.

Agriculture Solar Policy: Avoid Prime Soils

At their April meeting, the Orange County Agriculture and Farmland Protection Board (AFPB) unanimously adopted a new policy strongly advising municipalities to avoid siting solar panels or solar "farms" on soils that are designated prime agricultural soils or are of statewide significance, and that such solar facilities should be sited on soils less desirable for production agriculture.  The Planning Department is directed to incorporate this policy into their review of planning and zoning referrals from municipalities, and will draft a letter to municipalities to relay this position.  

Municipalities ideally should direct and prioritize solar development on previously disturbed areas, such as landfills and brownfields, as well as existing buildings and parking lots.   Prime agricultural lands (defined by mapped soil type) should be used as a last resort.

coUrbanize Wrap-up

OC Planning has wrapped up their year-long Comprehensive Plan public outreach with coUrbanize; an online public outreach/participation social media website that relies on a mapping feature to provide a geographic context to what people want to see happen.  Between May 1, 2017 and May 1, 2018, we received 400-450 unique comments with over 1,500 views.  The page is archived on the website and all the comments on the map can still be viewed at, however no new comments or updates can be posted.  A new Facebook page has been set up for continued outreach and updates as we work to create the new Plan.  Visit to keep on following throughout the process.

Major themes from coUrbanize comments

• Transportation: Alleviate traffic issues around the Harriman/Monroe area and Newburgh areas; increased ferry service, better commuter train service, and train connections to Stewart Airport; better/more convenient public transportation connections and a county-wide bus network.

• Non-Motorized Transportation: Develop more trail connections to the Heritage Trail, particularly North-South connections, and the creation of a county-wide trail network; more opportunities for biking/walking and prioritizing pedestrian safety and sidewalks.

• Open space protection: Protect open space and preserve the character of the County.

• Economic development: Bring more opportunities to central business districts in towns and villages throughout the County; revitalization in Newburgh and Port Jervis.

• Arts and culture: Create opportunities for more museums and performing arts/concert venues.