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.



Office of Agriculture

The Office of Agriculture is a Division of the Department dedicated to supporting the County’s vibrant agricultural economy. The Office oversees the Agricultural District Program, implements the County's Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan, provides administrative support to the Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board, and offers financial support for rural municipalities as they prepare their own Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plans. 

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Arts & Culture

Department personnel coordinate financial support for and data collection on arts and cultural institutions in the County. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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.


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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. 

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Local Government Training

Planning board and zoning board of appeals members are required by state statute to obtain four hours of training a year. 

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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 Dan Castle, Deputy Commissioner, at 716-858-6043 or in the Planning Division.


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Municipal Referrals

New York State General Municipal Law Section 239 requires municipalities to refer certain projects and/or actions to Erie County for review. DEP reviews and makes a recommendation or provides comments on the project to the local board within 30 days. Please review sections 239-m and 239-n for more information on what should be forward for review.

  • Click here to view the Erie County 239 Referral Process
    • Section 239-m(1)(c): The term "full statement of such proposed action" shall mean all materials required by and submitted to the referring body as an application on a proposed action, including a completed environmental assessment form and all other materials required by such referring body in order to make its determination of significance pursuant to the state environmental quality review act under article eight of the environmental conservation law and its implementing regulations. When the proposed action referred is the adoption or amendment of a zoning ordinance or local law, "full statement of such proposed action" shall also include the complete text of the proposed ordinance or local law as well as all existing provisions to be affected thereby, if any, if not already in the possession of the county planning agency or regional planning council. Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions of this paragraph, any referring body may agree with the county planning agency or regional planning council as to what shall constitute a "full statement" for any or all of those proposed actions which said referring body is authorized to act upon.
  • Digital ZR1 form (recommended): Click here to download the ZR1 Referral Form 



NOTE: Only municipal representatives (such as municipal clerks, code enforcement officers, planners, attorneys, supervisors, engineers, etc.) may use these forms. Developers, residents, and any other applicant/proponent and/or their representative MUST contact the municipality directly for guidance.

We are testing an online submission format. The submission forms asks you to identify your municipality, enter contact information, and upload the relevant IR documents (inlcuding the ZR1 form - we recommend using the fillable PDF available for download HERE). Files must be PDF formats.

  • Select the correct Form according to your municipality:
    • FORM A - Amherst, Buffalo, Kenmore, Lackawanna, Tonawanda (City), Tonawanda (Town), Williamsville
    • FORM B - Blasdell, Cheektowaga, Depew, Hamburg (Town), Hamburg (Village), Lancaster (Town), Lancaster (Village), Orchard Park (Town), Orchard Park (Village), Sloan, West Seneca 
    • FORM C - Angola, Aurora, Brant, Clarence, East Aurora, Eden, Elma, Evans, Farnham
    • FORM D - Akron, Alden (Town), Alden (Village), Boston, Colden, Collins, Concord, Grand Island, Gowanda, Holland, Marilla, Newstead, North Collins (Town), North Collins (Village), Sardinia, Springville, Wales 
  • Tips for submitting your IR online:
    • Finish filling out the ZR1 and gathering attachments before you begin to enter your information online.
    • All attachments must be submitted in PDF file formats only. If you attempt to attach an excel, or any other file type, the website will reject your submission
      • This website - can assist you in converting file types and/or reducing file sizes. 
      • Printing to PDF (try to print the file, but instead of selecting a printer, choose Adobe PDF/equivalent feature); this will "flatten" the file, making it simpler/smaller.Use a faster computer and/or faster internet, if possible.
    • Avoid website time out:
      • Refresh the site right before you begin entering information into the submission form.
      • Reduce the size of your files following the tips above
    • As a last resort, save all documents to the first directory that opens when uploading (when you hit "Choose File"), so you may submit the application before the website times out.
    • If you have attempted the steps above and are still unable to submit, please contact Mariely Ortiz at with a screenshot of the error so we may direct you to an alternative. Please include your municipality's name in the email subject. 
  • Agricultural Districts: According to New York State Agriculture and Markets Law, when an applicant applies for a rezoning, special use permit, site plan approval, use variance, or subdivision of parcels within 500 feet of a farm operation in an agricultural district, the applicant is required to fill out an Agricultural Data Statement

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Other Reports

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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. 

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Last updated: September 17, 2020 2:54pm