In the United States, the power reserved to the states by the U.S. Constitution is transferred from higher to lower levels of government. State law conveys certain powers to local municipalities, including villages. For example, powers of zoning are given to villages. State laws also require the villages to enforce certain State codes, among them those setting minimum standards for building construction and some environmental protection requirements. A local municipality may make more restrictive laws which will supersede a state law, but it may not loosen a state law’s provisions.
PROTECTING THE RIGHTS OF ALL
As with other rights, liberties, and privileges in the United States, a property owner’s rights on his or her land stop where they infringe on the rights, liberties, and privileges of others. Thus, a village may make laws regulating noise, the minimum size of a building lot, the permitted height of a building, or whether residents may keep sheep or chickens, for example, on their property.
Generally, villages and other local municipalities are empowered to protect the health, welfare, and safety of their residents, and the character of their communities as reflected in the zoning codes and existing buildings.
Villages were originally established to create zoning, which controls the kind of uses to which land may be put and sets the "tone" of an area. Thus, the power a village has to determine minimum lot size, minimum distance from one house to another, whether or not apartment buildings can be constructed and how tall they may be, and even what kind of fence is permitted, is its most basic power. From that power, and the obligation to protect the health, welfare, and safety of residents, flows a village’s authority.
PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT
The Sands Point Village government is also committed to preserving and protecting the natural environment, which is such an important part of the appeal of our Village. Village officials recognize that the reason most residents came to Sands Point is its quiet, rural character, expressed in winding country lanes with no sidewalks, the wooded grounds and many large street trees, still-unspoiled beaches and creeks, and large lots with attractive landscaping and houses set far back from the road. In addition to the very local environment, Sands Point government and local laws work to protect the greater environment: Long Island’s groundwater, which is its only source of drinking water and must be replenished by the absorption of rain through the natural ground cover; the purity of the air; and the quality of water in Manhasset Bay, Hempstead Harbor, and Long Island Sound.
Many regulations for environmental protection exist in the Federal and State laws that Sands Point is required to uphold. The Village's enforcement of these and its own environmental protection laws is vigorous and strict, reflecting Sands Point’s commitment to that task.
BUILDING AND ZONING
It is with all these concerns in mind that the Sands Point Village Board of Trustees, including the Mayor, propose, adopt, and enforce all Village laws, including the Building Zone Ordinance. Major changes to the Building Zone Ordinance were made in 1989. As stated in an introduction to the amendments, they were proposed by the Board and Mayor "In recognition of the recent rapid pace of building development, the increasing scale and intensity of use which has been observed and the impacts which this has and continues to create, and for the purposes of preserving the attractive residential character of the Village of Sands Point, avoiding the overcrowding of land, protecting access to light and air, preserving the natural environment, maximizing groundwater recharge, and for other purposes related to the protection of the public health, safety and general welfare...."
The major provisions of the amendments concern the percentage of the lot that may be covered by buildings, the floor area of buildings, the height of buildings permitted, and the distance various structures must be set back from property lines. They are summarized as follows:
1. The total area of ground covered by all buildings and structures (which include, for example, tennis courts, swimming pools, pergolas, and gate posts) on a property is limited to 20 per cent of the area of the lot, the only exceptions being driveways and walkways.
2. The ratio of habitable floor area to lot area for the dwelling (not including basements, garages, attics, storage areas, and unheated porches) is limited to no more than 12 per cent of the area of the lot for the first acre, plus 6 per cent for the second acre, and 4 per cent of the area of the lot over two acres.
3. The "footprint," or area of ground covered by all buildings on any lot may not exceed 12 per cent of the area of the lot for the first acre, plus 8 per cent of the area of the lot for the second acre, and 6 per cent of the area of the lot over two acres.
4. The minimum distance from property lines that dwellings must be set back depends on the height of the structure: taller parts of a building must be further from property lines, with a minimum setback of 60 feet from the front property line, 50 from the rear, and 40 from each side. Maximum height for a dwelling is 35 feet on all lots except those of at least three acres, upon which the maximum permitted dwelling height is 40 feet.
More specific details of these particular requirements and information about all other regulations in the Building Zone and General Code may be obtained from the Village Office.
Permits are required for many activities in Sands Point in order to to protect the health and welfare of the Village and its residents. These permits must be applied for in advance, and fees are charged for many of them. Application forms may be obtained at Village Hall. Consult Village Hall with any questions about permits or if you're not sure whether the activity you plan requires one. Failure to obtain a permit may result in costly additional permit fees as much as four times the normal fee and, possibly, a court appearance and fines imposed by the Village Justice in Village Court. The following are examples of some, but not all, required permits.
YOU NEED A PERMIT FOR:
• Placing fill of any kind on, or removing any material from waterways, uplands, and marshlands.
• Doing any kind of construction near wetlands, freshwater, or tidal water.
• Any construction, alteration, addition, removal, or demolition (with some exceptions).
• Occupying any newly constructed or altered building (a Certificate of Occupancy).
• Installing a satellite antenna (larger than three feet in diameter) or radio tower.
• Constructing or emptying a swimming pool.
• Cutting down trees more than 20 inches in circumference (measured 4' 6" above ground) or trees of any size on unimproved property.
• Constructing a shed or a tennis court.
• In many cases, adding or altering a driveway.
• In many cases, installing new windows, skylights, or doors.
• Installing intrusion and fire alarms.
• Constructing or replacing a cesspool.
• Parking on the street.
• Excavating more than 50 cubic yards of earth.
• Installing fences or earthen berms.
• Holding auctions, garage sales, and tag sales.
• Doing any work of any kind on Village roads.
• Constructing docks, bulkheads, or jetties.