Friday, April 8, 2011

Land Use in the Town of Brookhaven


There is a lot of information required to obtain a variance in the Town of Brookhaven. Thankfully, the staff at the Town of Brookhaven can be really helpful in giving you the necessary documentation and information in order to do so.

If one is trying to obtain a variance for a structure in or on their property that is a violation of the local zoning ordinances, there are several steps one might want to take.

The Town of Brookhaven has several documents listing the requirements needed in each situation (for a setback situation, fences, garages, animals, etc.). The instructions are clear and they provide forms.

But, as an example, here are general steps to take. First, it might be a good idea to FOIL property around yours to find out if your neighbors have applied for and received (or been denied for) a variance that may or may not be similar to the one that you are trying to obtain. In order to do that, you need a FOIL application that can be found in the law department on the third floor of the Town of Brookhaven, or on the Town of Brookhaven’s website. In order for the Town to search for these records (only the past 10 years are on their computers, and more specific information is needed if you are searching for records from before then), you must give them the address, name, and section block and lot of the property. First, one might drive around the neighborhood and write down their neighbors addresses. Then, a call can be made to the Town of Brookhaven’s Tax Assessor’s office in order to obtain section, block, and lot numbers, as well as names for those properties. Beware because they will only allow you to ask for two addresses per day, and beyond that you must either call back on a later day, or go to the Town of Brookhaven’s tax assessor’s office to use their computers and search the database. This cannot be done from your home computer. You can send the FOIL request in online or by mail, and will receive a response in about 30 days (no promises), and will be charged .25 cents per page. Another helpful hint is to ask for documents, not information, because they can only give documents, not information, pursuant to a FOIL request.

After getting the appropriate information from your FOIL request, the next step is to fill out an application for a building permit, which will be denied, but is a necessary step in obtaining a variance. Of course, it is by some miracle not denied, then you are in an even better position and will not need to proceed. The building permit department is on the first floor in the Town of Brookhaven, and the clerk at the front desk in the back can furnish you with those. If you need to speak with a representative, you must take a number and a seat to be helped, similar to the system at the DMV. The application and paperwork call for the required information to be submitted with such.

Once an application has been denied, one can apply for a variance. This requires several steps and a lot of information is needed, depending on specifically which type. Again, the Town of Brookhaven’s land use department (on the right when you walk in) is very helpful and will give you the necessary forms and paperwork, and even explain to you what you will need in each situation.

After applying for the variance, and taking all of the necessary steps, the zoning board will have a hearing. Part of the process is giving notice to your neighbors so they can present themselves at the hearing to give their input (ie if they are adamant about you not having roosters on your property). The hearing is where it might be helpful to have your FOIL’ed information on your neighbors as evidence.

All in all, the process may take time and be tedious, because of the several steps, but because of the Town of Brookhaven’s amazing staff and explanatory paperwork, it may not end up being as bad as it seemed.