Welcome to the Town of Greenburgh
Community Development and Conservation  
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)  


      - Is my property subdividable?
      - How do wetlands help improve water quality?
      - What are Wetlands?
      - Why are natural wetlands beneficial?
      - Why are wetlands being protected and created?
      - What do Buffers Do?
      - Why are Buffers necessary?
   Zoning Board of Appeals
      - Do I need an attorney to present my case to the board?
      - How can I best prepare myself for an appearance before the zoning board?
      - If I am seeking a zoning variance, should I present evidence of support from my neighbors?
      - In cases where a variance is sought for a construction project, what supporting evidence must I submit to describe the project?
      - When and where are zoning hearings held?
      - When should I submit supporting evidence?
   Stormwater Management
      - Stormwater Pollution...What is the Problem?

          Is my property subdividable?

The Department of Community Development and Conservation cannot answer whether a property is subdividable or not. That decision is made by the Planning Board. Planning Division staff can provide background information on the property such as if it has ever been before the Planning Board in the past, if it is generally steep or wet, etc. A property owner should hire their own professional to investigate a property for potential subdivision. Planning staff cannot recommend engineers or architects but a property owner may review past Planning Board files for examples of firms that do work in the Town of Greenburgh.

          How do wetlands help improve water quality?

Pollutants entering natural wetlands are treated by a variety of physical, chemical and biological processes.  The following processes filter out pollutants before they reach other waterbodies:
-Settling of sediment and other pollutants
-Breakdown of pollutants into harmless substances
-Plant uptake

          What are Wetlands?
Wetlands are areas of saturated soil which may flood or pond (especially in winter), and support specific plants and animals.

          Why are natural wetlands beneficial?
Wetlands provide a variety of ecological, social and aesthetic benefits such as:
-Protecting water quality by removing nutrients and chemical contaminants
-Controlling flood waters
-Serving as essential plant, fish and wildlife habitats
-Recharging ground and surface waters
-Providing open space and recreational opportunities

          Why are wetlands being protected and created?
As a means of mitigating wetland losses.  It is hoped that these practices can offset the annual loss of natural wetlands due to development activities.

          What do Buffers Do?

Buffers filter surface and subsurface stormwater flows before they enter a wetland, watercourse or body of water, reducing the amount of pollutants entering these systems.  Naturally vegetated buffers can significantly reduce the water quality impacts of development.  These buffers, around watercourses and wetlands, are one of the most practical and cost effective pollution prevention and ecosystem protection measures.

          Why are Buffers necessary?
Riparian (streamside) and wetland buffers do the following:

-Naturally vegetated buffers filter out excessive nutrients and other nonpoint source  pollutants in runoff, before they reach streams, lakes, wetlands and embankments.
-Moderate runoff and stream temperatures
-Control the velocity, quantity and quality of stream flows
-Enhance wildlife habitat and diversity
-Stabilize streambanks and reduce channel erosion
-Provide leaf litter as food for animals at the base of the food chain
-Reduce nitrogen from shallow groundwater flows to streams
-Reduce potential formation of fish migration barriers
-Enhance recreational opportunities
-Increase property values

    Zoning Board of Appeals
          Do I need an attorney to present my case to the board?

The presence of any attorney is not required. An applicant may present his/her own case if he/she wishes. In many instances, particularly in more complicated cases, applicants have chosen to be represented by a professional, such as an attorney, a planning consultant, an architect, or a contractor, well versed in zoning matters. Sometimes an applicant will choose a relative or friend to represent him/her. This choice is entirely up to the applicant.

          How can I best prepare myself for an appearance before the zoning board?
The best preparation for a Zoning Board appearance is to attend a hearing before your own hearing is scheduled. By listening to the presentations and the questions asked by the Board, you will get a sense of the workings of the Board.

A Zoning Board Hearing, while quasi-judicial in nature, is still relatively informal. The Board goes out of its way not to be intimidating. After all, the members of the Board are all volunteers, and are your neighbors.

          If I am seeking a zoning variance, should I present evidence of support from my neighbors?
In all zoning cases, the Board schedules a hearing and notices of the hearing are sent to all neighbors within a 250-foot radius of the property. These neighbors may or may not choose to appear. However, the Board always welcomes the opinions of neighbors who may be affected by zoning variance. Therefore, while not required, support of such neighbors can be helpful to an applicant's case.If a supporting neighbor does not choose to appear, a letter indicating support for an application may be submitted as evidence, but should be submitted not less than ten (10) days prior to the scheduled Hearing.

          In cases where a variance is sought for a construction project, what supporting evidence must I submit to describe the project?
All applicants are required to submit transparencies for projecting the proposed plans on the wall of the Meeting Room. In addition, oral presentations are helpful to describe plans. In addition, drawings and photographs that show what the property will look like both before and after any planned construction will be helpful. Specific dimensions are required to describe the size of additions, decks, patios or other features. Where the slope of the lot is important to the location of any construction, an adequate description of the degree of slope and its location should be presented. Applicants are encouraged to have professionally prepared plans.

          When and where are zoning hearings held?
Regularly scheduled Hearings are typically held on the 3rd Thursday of each month, at the Greenburgh Town Hall, with additional special meetings scheduled as required. Meetings start at 8:00 P.M. No Hearing of an individual case can start after 10:30 P.M., unless specifically permitted by the Board, which occurs only in unusual circumstances.

          When should I submit supporting evidence?
All applicants are encouraged to state their reasons for seeking relief and supportive evidence in writing. As stated in the accompanying Board Rules of Procedure, all written evidences must where possible, be submitted not less than then (10) days before the scheduled Hearing on their applications.

    Stormwater Management
          Stormwater Pollution...What is the Problem?
What is storm water pollution?
Anything that gets in the path of a raindrop becomes storm water pollution.  Another name for storm water pollution is non-point source pollution.
How is storm water pollution a problem?
Every time it rains, storm water is carried directly to our surface waters.  That means that storm water pollution can have detrimental effects to creeks, lakes, ponds, rivers and the oceans into which it drains.
What types of pollutants are in storm water pollution?
Storm water can carry sediment, trash, automotive fluids like used oil and antifreeze, grass clippings, leaves, yard waste, excess fertilizers, animal waste, pesticides and anything else that gets in its way.

What can citizens do to prevent storm water pollution?
There are several things citizens can do to prevent storm water pollution.

Household Hazardous Waste
  • Never dump anything down a storm drain.  All storm drains flow directly to creeks and lakes.
  • Take used oil, paint and other household hazardous waste to recycling centers.
  • Check your car for oil or other leaks
Animal Waste
  • Pick up after your pets.  Dispose of animal waste properly in a trash receptacle or flush it down the toilet.
Lawn Care
  • Apply fertilizers and pesticides exactly where you want them.  Avoid over spraying them onto sidewalks, driveways or streets.
  • Reduce the amount of fertilizers you need to apply by testing the soil in your yard first.
Reducing Runoff
  • Adjust sprinklers to that you’re not watering the street or sidewalk.
  • Redirect roof gutters to lawns, natural areas or rain gardens.
  • Take your car to a car wash instead of washing it on the driveway.
 Yard Waste
  • Sweep up yard debris instead of washing it away.
  • Bundle yard waste at the curb for pickup.
  • Blow leaves and grass clippings back into your yard instead of leaving them in the street to wash down the storm drain.
  • Use a compost bin to turn yard waste into a useful gardening product.
  • Replant bare areas to avoid soil erosion.
  • Keep invasive plants from growing in your yard.  Remove them before they have a chance to grow and spread.
  • Avoid planting exotic plants.  Select only plants that are native to this area.
  • Report spills, dumping or suspected water pollution to the Village.
  • Clear clogged storm drains.  Blocked drains cause drainage problems.
  • Participate in community-wide clean up days and other events.
  • Alert neighbors to the storm water pollution problem.
Is it illegal to pollute the storm drainage system?
Yes, it is illegal to discharge, cause to be discharged, directly or indirectly, or cause any pollutant to enter into the storm drain system (referred to as an illicit discharge) unless permitted by a NYSDEC permit.  Storm water is the only discharge permitted in the storm water system with the exception of incidental non-storm water flows which do not negatively impact the quality of the receiving stream, including:
(1)     Water line flushing, except super-chlorinated water line flushing
(2)     Landscape irrigation.
(3)     Uncontaminated groundwater infiltration.
(4)     Uncontaminated, pumped groundwater.
(5)     Discharge from potable water sources.
(6)     Foundation drains.
(7)     Air conditioning condensate.
(8)     Irrigation water.
(9)     Springs.
(10)    Lawn watering.
(11)    De-chlorinated swimming pool discharge.
(12)    Street wash water.
(13)    Flows from emergency fire and rescue operations other than those resulting from negligence on the part of the person who owned or controlled the pollutant.

What is an “Illicit Discharge”?
Federal regulations define an illicit discharge as “....any discharge to an MS4 that is not composed entirely of stormwater....” with some exceptions. These exceptions include discharges from NPDES-permitted industrial sources and discharges from fire-fighting activities. Illicit discharges are considered “illicit” because MS4s are not designed to accept, process, or discharge such non-stormwater wastes.
Sources of illicit discharges include: sanitary wastewater, effluent from septic tanks, car wash wastewaters, improper oil disposal, radiator flushing disposal, laundry wastewaters, spills from roadway accidents, and improper disposal of auto and household toxics.



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