April 22, 2020 UPDATE: Navigating the Zoning Process on Long Island During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Every developer knows the zoning approval process is dictated to a large extent by where a particular property is located. Every municipality has its own set of rules when it comes to the zoning approval process whether seeking a building permit, special use permit, variance, change of zone, subdivision or other land use approval. These rules necessarily require a knowledgeable Land Use and Zoning attorney to help navigate the process and secure zoning approvals. This knowledge is even more important now under the constraints imposed by COVID-19. Municipalities on Long island have been significantly impacted and are now operating and conducting business under what has become our new normal.

Notwithstanding the stay at home order, businesses must continue to operate so that ultimately the transition to the workplace will be smoother. The attorneys at Forchelli Deegan Terrana LLP are in contact with elected officials and municipal leaders from municipalities and agencies throughout Long Island to ensure that our clients’ needs continue to be met and their zoning applications continue to be processed during these difficult times.

If you currently have an application pending, or are seeking to submit a new land use application, we have prepared the following up to date information to guide you through the process during the shutdown.


Nassau County Planning Commission

Starting on April 23, 2020, the Nassau County Planning Commission will hold regular meetings – including public hearings and zoning referrals – via Zoom and will receive public comments via email.

Nassau County Department of Public Works – 239f Referrals

All 239-f referrals received by DPW prior to the shutdown will be reviewed off-premises by DPW engineering staff. New 239-f referrals can be submitted by mail and will be reviewed off-premises by DPW engineering staff.

Town of Hempstead

As of March 23, 2020, the Town of Hempstead Town Hall was closed to the public. However, the Town of Hempstead is accepting application submissions by mail but will review only “essential” applications. Determining whether your application is essential depends on multiple factors and will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Hempstead Town Board meetings are closed to the public but are being held via the Town of Hempstead’s Livestream. The April 1, 2020 Board of Appeals hearing was postponed. The Town has not released official plans for the April 29, 2020 Board of Appeals hearing.

Town of North Hempstead

Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth has announced that the all Town facilities are closed until April 20, 2020. The Building Department remains open for transactions related to “essential business” and issuance of permits in connection with emergency repairs.

The Town Board meetings scheduled for March 19th and April 2nd were cancelled due to the Coronavirus. The Town Board held a special meeting on March 30, 2020, which was broadcasted remotely through the Town’s website (https://northhempsteadny.gov/townboardlive). It remains to be seen if regular Town Board meetings and Board of Zoning Appeals hearings will be conducted via remote video.

Town of Oyster Bay

The Town of Oyster Bay Town Hall is closed to the public and the Department of Planning and Development has suspended in-person services. Staff members are available to answer phone calls and process emergency and minor building permit applications. New, non-emergency, land use applications may be submitted by mail to the Town but will not be processed until Town Hall reopens.

All Town Board public hearings, Planning Advisory Board meetings, and Zoning Board of Appeals hearings have been cancelled until further notice. It is expected that remote hearings will resume sometime in May.


Town of Brookhaven

The Town of Brookhaven has implemented an online submission service which allows applicants to submit new residential and commercial permit applications and plans review. Application drop-off measures are in effect for Town departments such as the Building Division, Planning Department, Zoning Board of Appeals, and Town Clerk.

Town Board, Zoning Board of Appeals and Planning Board meetings are all being held virtually and streamed live on the Town’s website.

Town of Huntington

As of March 16, 2020, the Town of Huntington Town Hall has been closed to the public. Online services are available to the public through the Town’s website and the Town’s Departments are available through email to answer questions.

Effective April 7, 2020, the Zoning Board of Appeals has issued new procedures in light of the Coronavirus. Attorneys for the applicant are to submit a summary of the relief requested with the legal argument and expert affidavits (if needed) supporting the relief. Once the application is deemed complete, members of the public may submit comments via email. The members of the Board and counsel for the Board will then holding a “hearing” via teleconference or web conference. The applicant, applicant’s attorney, and general public may listen in but are prohibited from participating. The full list of procedures may be accessed at: https://www.huntingtonny.gov/filestorage/13753/13761/ZBA_COVID_-19_PROCEDURES.pdf.

The Planning Board and Town Board meetings are being held in similar fashion with the hearings live-streamed for the public.

Town of Islip

The Town of Islip Town Hall is closed to the public but remains staffed at 50% in order to comply with Governor Cuomo’s mandate for social distancing for essential services. The remaining staff members are working remotely from home to help process non-essential applications. As of April 17, 2020, the Town of Islip issued revised procedures for Building Division, Engineering Division, Planning Division, and Zoning Board of Appeals submissions. Submissions may now be dropped off in the lobby of Town Hall or submitted by mail in accordance with the Town’s new procedures.

The April 21, 2020 Town Board meeting will be broadcasted via livestream. The upcoming Planning Board meeting, Zoning Board of Appeals meetings, and Change of Zone hearings have been cancelled. To date, no official information has been released regarding livestreaming future meetings.

Town of Riverhead

The Town of Riverhead Town Hall is closed to the public. The Department of Land Management has implemented new procedures for Building Department and Planning Board applications. New applications to the Building Department and Planning Board may be dropped off in the designated drop-box, mailed in, or submitted via e-mail.

The Town Board, Architectural Review Board, and Zoning Board of Appeals meetings for the month of April have been cancelled.

We will continue to maintain a line of communication with the various County and local municipal boards and agencies to ensure that our clients’ land use applications are filed, reviewed, and heard to the fullest extent possible during the Coronavirus pandemic. If you have an application pending before a municipality, or need assistance filing a new application, please contact Judy Lynn Simoncic, Esq. (JSimoncic@forchellilaw.com) or Erik Snipas, Esq. (ESnipas@forchellilaw.com).