Development Project Review


The primary goal of zoning is to promote the development of a balanced, cohesive, and integrated community which efficiently uses the City's available land and protects property values. It provides for the orderly arrangement of various types of residential, commercial, industrial, and other uses at appropriate densities to ensure a functional and livable community. The Zoning Ordinance prescribes the uses of land in various districts throughout the City, and establishes the location of each district on the Zoning Map. It also provides the list of uses (principal, accessory, and special permit) allowed in each district and the dimensional requirements applicable in each district. The Planning Department works in conjunction with the Building Department to review all development projects and advise the various approval agencies as to the conformity of these projects with the City’s Zoning Ordinance.

Site Plans

A site plan is a map showing the design for the layout, arrangement, and use of buildings and land on a parcel of land. Site Plans must be prepared and signed by a professional architect, landscape architect, land surveyor, or engineer licensed by the State of New York and prepared in conformance with the requirements of Section 7.3 of the Zoning Ordinance.

Site plan approval is required for any proposed new development or modifications to existing developments, with the exception of one-family or two-family dwellings on a parcel of land with no environmentally sensitive features. Depending on the nature of the project, the approval agency for the site plan application may be the Commissioner of Building, the Planning Board, or the Common Council.


The subdivision process controls how a parcel of land is divided into smaller lots, how those lots are laid out, how the infrastructure serving those lots is installed, and how any parks or open spaces are situated on the land. The goal of good subdivision design is to ensure that future development is integrated with the greater community, with safe streets and sidewalks for residents, as well as adequate services, facilities, infrastructure, and recreational areas that create pleasant places to live. If you own property or have a contract to buy land in the City of White Plains and wish to create one or more new build-able lots, you will need to have the property subdivided. The approval agency for subdivisions is the Planning Board.

Special Permit Uses

Special permits are required to allow for the development of certain uses of land, buildings, or structures in certain zoning districts. The zoning ordinance establishes specific additional conditions which are intended to assure that the proposed use is compatible and in harmony with surrounding uses and will not adversely affect the neighborhood. The approval body (which can be the Zoning Board of Appeals, the Common Council, or the Planning Board, depending on the nature of the project) must find that the proposed use meets these special conditions in order to grant approval of the special permit.


A variance is an authorization that permits the use of land in a manner that would otherwise not be allowed by the requirements of the Zoning Ordinance. An area variance authorizes a reduction in the dimensional requirements of the zoning district in which a property is located, and a use variance authorizes the use of land for a purpose which is otherwise permitted in the particular zoning district. Variance applications are subject to review and approval by the Zoning Board of Appeals.  Regulations regarding the standards for variances can be found in Section 10.3.5 of the Zoning Ordinance.

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