Department personnel manage a number of planning programs that improve the quality of life in Erie County. These programs plan for or implement development projects that are consistent with the Framework for Regional Growth, the County’s adopted comprehensive plan.

Agricultural Planning
The Department supports the County’s vibrant agricultural economy through agricultural programs including The County’s Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan and Agricultural District Program. Department personnel also provide administrative and policy support to the Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board.

Arts & Culture
Department personnel coordinate financial support for and data collection on arts and cultural institutions in the County. The County will begin accepting applications for the 2017 Cultural Funding Process in late Spring 2016. 

Capital Improvements Program
The Department plays a lead role in coordination and review of proposed capital projects. Department personnel review capital projects for consistency with the Framework for Regional Growth and manage the environmental review process for all capital projects.

Environmental Reviews
The Department of Environment and Planning, Division of Planning is designated by the County Executive as the environmental review coordinator for Erie County actions (capital projects, physical construction, plan and policy making, laws ordinances, executive orders & regulations) undertaken, funded, or approved by the county, that may affect the environment by changing the use, appearance or condition of any natural resource or structure. 

The reviews are carried out in conformance with State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations.

Assistance is provided in the preparation of environmental assessments, the lead agency solicitation process and subsequent determinations and findings (positive/negative declarations, EIS, FONSI) regarding the possible environmental impacts of proposed county actions.

The division also responds to environmental reviews of municipal government actions that involve county funding or approvals.

Erie County Park System Master Plan 
The 2003 Park Master Plan has been a valuable tool for County decision makers since its adoption by the Erie County Legislature in 2003. New demands have been placed on the park system not present in 2003 indicating a need for an updated master plan for the system that can be used as a guide for the parks through the year 2030.

Erie-Niagara Regional Framework

Erie & Niagara Counties have partnered to develop the Framework for Regional Growth, which establishes basic policies and principles to guide the future growth and development of the Region.

Fisheries Advisory Board
Erie County has a 12-member Fisheries Advisory Board that advises the Department on matters concerning protection, development, access to fisheries, and related issues. The Board is comprised of representatives from sports and recreational fishing, and various fields of marine and aquatic sciences. The Department monitors the activities of the Fisheries Advisory Board.

Local Government Training
The New York State Department of State has numerous resources for municipal board members in search of training opportunities, including:

    • Online Interactive Training: These interactive courses are available for free to local officials and anyone interested in learning from them. It is not necessary to register with the New York Department of State to complete these courses. If you opt to take the quiz at the end of the course, you will be offered a certificate of completion to print as proof of having completed the course.
    • The dates of upcoming webinars and information about on-site training are available on the DOS Land Use Training Network Calendar

Local Planning Assistance
Department personnel provide technical assistance to municipal boards, such as planning and zoning boards, as well as to municipalities updating their master plans or zoning. If you need technical assistance, please contact the Planning Division.

DEP has prepared the Fair Housing and Local Land Use Law Handbook to assist municipalities with implementing innovative zoning techniques for affordable housing.

Municipal Referrals
New York State General Municipal Law Section 239 requires municipalities to refer certain development projects to Erie County for review. DEP reviews and makes a recommendation or provides comments on the project to the local board within 30 days. Click here to download the ZR1 Referral Form.

Other Reports
Initiatives for a Stronger Community

Waterfront Planning
The Department leads the planning and construction of waterfront land use and access projects. Currently, DEP is working on the County’s Black Rock Canal Park, Evans Shoreline Trail - Phases 2 and 3, and the Sunset View section of the Shoreline Trail in the City of Lackawanna. The department is also assisting the City of Tonawanda with their Intermodal Hub project in the downtown area.