Town of

Detail of Danby's 1965 General Plan
Highlighting the legacy of planning in the town.

Planning and Zoning

Jason Haremza, AICP, Town Planner

1830 Danby Road
Ithaca, NY 14850

The Danby Planning and Zoning Office coordinates town planning and development review processes as overseen by the Town Board, Planning Board, Board of Zoning Appeals, and the Conservation Advisory Council.


Town Planning is generally broad and includes such topics as environmental protection, stormwater management, comprehensive planning, mapping, and coordination with other planning agencies.


Development review includes accepting, review and processing applications for subdivisions, site plans, special use permits and other land use requests.


The Planning and Zoning Office also coordinates with the Building and Code Enforcement Office regarding zoning compliance for building permits, including aspects such as allowable uses, required setbacks from property lines, and structure locations.


The Town Planner serves as the staff person to the two land use boards:

  • Planning Board (PB)
  • Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) 


In addition, the Town Planner is the staff person for the Conservation Advisory Council (CAC).


These groups are made up of dedicated citizen volunteers who make land use decisions and recommendations for the Town. The Town Planner's role is to work with property owners who may want or need to make an application for subdivision, site plan review, special permit, or variances. The Town Planner takes in and reviews the applications, creates the meeting agendas, notifies the public, answers questions the boards may have at their meetings, and provides professional planning expertise as requested.  




The Town of Danby has a history of planning for it's future going back to the 1965 plan. The current Comprehensive Plan was adopted in 2003 and has this vision for Danby:

  • A community that values and seeks to conserve its rural character, including preservation and enhancement of the natural environment.
  • An economically viable and socially diverse community that provides for, and values, a variety of lifestyles, interests, and opportunities.
  • Orderly residential growth that will not unduly or unreasonably disrupt neighborhoods, and carefully planned business and light industrial growth that supports employment and development opportunities while not detracting from the rural character of the Town or its environmental assets.
  • A town that provides activities, education, and facilities to promote a sense of community and cooperation for all its residents.
  • A community that encourages innovative and responsible uses of its historical and natural resources, in order to enhance both environmental protection and economic development, and one in which heavy industrial uses, operations, or impacts are prohibited so as to both preserve the unique natural features of the Town for future generations, and preserve these same resources for the tourism and recreation, that substantially impact and benefit the Town and its residents, as well as nearby communities.


The full plan can be accessed via the link below. The Town works to implement the plan through the land use decisions of the Planning Board, Board of Zoning Appeals, the recommendations of the Conservation Advisory Council, and decisions on public resources, including budgeting and capital improvements.




For many decades, the Town of Danby has had a Zoning Ordinance. Zoning is a law that regulates land use, and is a tool that local governments can use to implement the vision and goals of the community, as expressed in the Comprehensive Plan.

Zoning regulations include:

  • Land use regulations (what a piece of land can be used for)

  • Dimensional regulations (where on a piece of land a use can occur or structure can be built, how big it can be, and where certain elements such as parking, building entrances, landscaping, etc. can and cannot be placed)

  • Procedural regulations (how the zoning ordinance is administered and how appeals are made)


When a proposed project does not comply with the Zoning Ordinance, an appeal may be submitted to the Board of Zoning Appeals (the BZA, a.k.a. the Zoning Board of Appeals, ZBA). Appeals may request:

  • a Use Variance—when the intended use of a property does not conform to the uses permitted in a particular zone

  • an Area Variance—when the size or location of a project does not conform to the dimensional requirements specified for the zone

Paper copies of these forms, and others, are available in the Planning Office. The BZA Area Variance Appeal form, including instructions and guidance, may also be downloaded.

Hours of Operation:

Generally, office hours are Monday-Thursday, 9AM-5PM. The Town Planner often is out of the office visiting sites within Danby, attending meetings in Ithaca or beyond, or working remotely. Appointments are strongly encouraged. Please email or call to set one up.



Jason Haremza AICP ()
Phone: 607-277-2400
Planning Board
Town of Danby Planning Board
Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA)
Town of Danby Board of Zoning Appeals
Conservation Advisory Council (CAC)
Town of Danby Conservation Advisory Council
Out on the Trails
This website showcases the 220+ miles of trails in Tompkins County. It is a project of the Tompkins County Parks and Trails Network, with participation by the Town of Danby.
NYS Department of State, Local Government Services
The State of New York provides a wealth of resources for local government administration, including highly regarded and user-friendly James Coon Technical Series of publications.
Rapid Waters Unit Management Plan (includes Danby State Forest)

The Rapid Waters Management Unit includes two State Forests, Danby and Shindagin, encompassing 12,603 acres. The unit is primarily located in Tompkins County, with parts of both forests crossing over into Tioga County. The Danby State Forest lands were acquired from 1933 to 1997, with the most significant acquisition taking place in January of 1956 when about 6,200 acres were acquired from the federal government. Approximately 3,850 acres (73%) of Shindagin State Forest were initially acquired by the federal government under the sub-marginal land purchase program.


Goals for the Rapid Waters Management Unit are: provide a healthy, sustainable, and biologically diverse forest; provide forest-based recreational opportunities; provide economic benefits to local communities and to the State of New York; and provide sound stewardship of the State Forest. The Final version of the Management Plan was approved in December 2012.