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GML 239 Reviews 


What is a Referable Action?

Certain proposed actions reviewed by a municipal board, i.e., city/town/village board, planning board, or zoning board of appeals, or other duly authorized body of a city, town or village, are subject to referral to the OCPB under NYS General Municipal Law §239 l, m & n (GML 239). The OCPB sees projects from over 100 different boards, and more than 500 referrals in a year.


Per GML 239, there are two criteria for determining if a proposed action is referable to the OCPB: type of action and location. An action is referable when both criteria are met.


Criteria 1: Type of Action

  • adoption or amendment of a comprehensive plan
  • adoption or amendment of a zoning ordinance or local law pertaining to zoning or subdivisions
  • issuance of special use permits
  • approval of site plans
  • granting of use or area variances
  • other authorizations which a referring body may issue under the provisions of any zoning ordinance or local law
  • approval of preliminary and/or final subdivision plats or proposal to develop an undeveloped plat


Criteria 2: Location - project is located within 500 feet of any of the following:

  • the boundary of any city, village or town
  • the boundary of any existing or proposed County or State park or other recreation area
  • the right-of-way of any existing or proposed County or State parkway, thruway, expressway, road or highway
  • the right-of-way of any existing or proposed stream or drainage channel owned by the County or for which the County has established channel lines
  • the boundary of any existing or proposed County or State owned land containing a public building or institution
  • the boundary of a farm operation located in an agricultural district  (not applicable to the granting of area variances)


Administrative Review

Per General Municipal Law, §§239-m and –n, and the Onondaga County Planning Board (OCPB) Rules of Procedure and Referral Policy, the OCPB may delegate review and recommendation on certain referral actions to the Director of the Onondaga County Department of Planning. These actions are routine in nature with minimal and/or well-understood intercommunity or countywide concerns. Local review implications of administrative review recommendations are the same as OCPB review.


Exemption Agreements

A municipality may enter into an agreement with the OCPB and designate certain low impact actions as being of local, rather than intermunicipal or county-wide concern. In that instance, the designated action would not be subject to referral. The OCPB has several longstanding ‘Exemption Agreements’ in place with municipalities, which commonly exempt actions pertaining to accessory structures or certain area variance requests.


The OCPB Review by Action Type table can be used to determine if a GML 239 referrable action is exempt from review (for municipalities with an Exemption Agreement in place), eligible for adminstrative review, or subject to OCPB full review.


Contact the Onondaga County Department of Planning for more information regarding existing exemption agreements or entering into a new agreement.




Contact information


NYS GML Section 239


Guide to OCPB Referrals




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