Development Review Services
The City of Binghamton is committed to working with developers and business owners to develop quality projects that benfit the applicant and the City. The Development Process involves the Department of Planning, Housing and Community Development, Office of Building and Construction, and the Binghamton Economic Development Office (BEDO). We develop and administer standards and policies governing development in Binghamton to protect environmental quality, promote economic growth and ensure neighborhood vitality.
To assist developers with getting projects implemented, the Planning Department, in cooperation with the Supervisor of Building and Construction, BEDO, Corporation Counsel, and other departments as needed, offers Pre-Development Meetings every Tuesday from 2:00–4:00 pm.
Applicants are strongly encouraged to take advantage of this free service. Attending a 30-minute informal meeting at the start of a project to discuss scope and direction can give any developer a clear understanding of what permits or planning/zoning approvals, landscaping features or water/sewer requirements are required and help avoid delays in obtaining necessary permits or unneeded design expenses. We are happy to sit down with applicants at any stage in their project development: from conceptualization to final checks.
To schedule a meeting, please contact the Department of Planning, Housing & Community Development at 607-772-7028.
Depending on the scope of a particular project, different levels of review may be necessary. By law, all new commercial businesses and changes of use require some level of review. There are two basic levels of review:
- Planning Commission Review and Approval: This is a full site plan review by the Planning Commission. It is typically required for projects which are likely to have significant impacts on a neighborhood. This includes projects involving new construction, actions that are unlisted or Type I under SEQRA, and projects which, per the Zoning Code, require a special use permit. Review and approval of a site plan is conducted by the Planning Commission and generally involves two (2) meetings, one of which is a public hearing. The whole process, from submission of the application to final decision, is typically 2-3 months. The application deadline is always the first Wednesday of the month, for the case to be places on the following month's agenda. The Planning Commission Review application can be found here.
- Administrative Planning Review and Approval (Series A Exception): This is a staff level review for those types of projects and uses which the City has already determined will have minimal impacts on the neighborhood. These are going to be projects involving a permitted use in an existing structure, requiring little to no modifications. Exception applications are reviewed by staff from the Planning Department, the Supervisor of Building and Construction, and the Fire Marshal. Typical review time is 1-2 weeks, and some projects can be reviewed in as little as a few days. The Administrative Planning Review application can be found here.
Building permits and certificates of occupancy/compliance cannot be issued until the project has been approved through one of these two reviews. Once a project have been approved, any necessary building permits can be released by the Office of Building and Construction.
Some project may require additional reviews. The Planning Department will help you identify which of these additional reviews, if any, are necessary. When multiple reviews are necessary, the Planning Department works hard to make sure that the reviews are happening concurrently to minimize the review timeline as much as possible.
- Zoning Board of Appeals: All projects are required to be in compliance with the City's Zoning Code. If a project cannot meet these requirements, then you can apply for a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA). The ZBA review process is typically about 1 month from application submission to decision. Applications are due on the first Wednesday of the month for the following month's agenda. The application can be found here.
- Historic Design Review: Projects which involve modifications to the exterior of designated historic properties (including signage) have to obtain a Certificate of Appropriateness to ensure that the historic character of the property is being properly preserved. Historic Design Review may be either a review by the Commission on Architecture and Urban Design (CAUD) or a staff level review, depending on the scope of the project. For more information on Historic Design Review, please see the Historic Preservation section of the website.
- Local Waterfront Revitalization Program: Series A review projects located in the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program area are referred to the Waterfront Advisory Committee, an advisory body to the Planning Commission. Planning Staff handles the referral of the application to the Committee.
- Shade Tree Commission: Projects which involve the planting of new trees are generally referred to the Shade Tree Commission (STC), which helps applicants and Planning Commission determine the appropriate species and placement of trees on a project site to ensure the health of the trees. Planning Staff handles the referral of the application to the STC.
- Economic Development: The Binghamton Economic Development Office (BEDO) provides government services that foster economic vitality, sustainable growth, civic engagement, citizen participation and neighborhood stability. They will be happy to discuss way they can help businesses start-up, grow, and relocate to the City.
- Building Construction, Zoning, and Code Enforcement: The Office of Building Construction, and Code Enforcement promotes and enforces general compliance with the laws and regulations that govern the planning, development, construction, operation, and demolition of structures. They encourage and support public safety by ensuring that all buildings, structures and related equipment are designed, constructed, installed and maintained in compliance with the standards of established building codes.