Permits & Regulatory Review
An important step in starting a business and determining its location is to understand and comply with the development review process. All development proposals must comply with the Building Code of NYS, as well as local Zoning, Sign, and Historic Resources Commission Ordinances, and the adopted Local Waterfront Revitalization Program. Review by one, two, or all three of these bodies may be necessary before a permit will be issued for a proposed development.
Building and Codes The first step is to apply for a Zoning and Building Permit with the Division of Building and Codes. If all requirements are met, a permit will be issued. If they are not, a letter of denial is provided indicating deficiencies in the application and/or any additional review necessary for building permit approval. The Division of Building and Codes is located at City Hall, Room 303, 24 Eagle Street, Albany, NY and can be reached at 518.434.5165 or go to: http://www.ecode360.com/?custId=AL0934
Planning Board Site plan review is required for all new commercial, industrial, and institutional construction projects. It is also required for new residential development containing four or more dwelling units within a single lot or parcel, and for subdivisions of four or more parcels. The purpose of this review is to ensure that the development proposed is compatible with surrounding development, maintains or enhances the value of other parcels of land in the area, and is sensitive to the environment. The Planning Board is responsible for this review.
Board of Zoning Appeals All development proposed within the City of Albany must comply with the Zoning Ordinance. In cases where hardship or practical difficulties make compliance very difficult or impossible, an applicant may request a variance from the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA). The Board is also empowered by the Zoning Ordinance to grant special use permits, to intercept provisions of the ordinance, and to grant parking lot permits.
Historical Resources Commission Historic designation by the City’s Historic Resources Commission (HRC) Ordinance is intended to preserve and protect places, structures, works of art, and other objects having a special interest or value. The HRC must review proposed alterations or additions to locally designated historic resources for appropriateness. Review by the HRC is also required for demolition of any designated structure and for new construction in or adjacent to historic districts.
Link or call: 518.434-5240.
Each Spring, we process applications and issue licenses for the annual food and flower vending at Capitol Park for the 31-week season from April to November. Applicants provide us with an application, fee, verification of cart/truck inspection by the Albany County Health Department, all insurance (vehicle, workers compensation), drivers abstract (NYSDMV for trucks), a list of employees, a full vending menu, and an agreement stating they will abide by all rules and regulation. Once a license is issued vendors are allowed to sell their food or flowers in an assigned location on Washington Avenue or State Street. We have worked with the Capitol Park Merchants to establish rules and regulations, and meet regularly to discuss issues of aesthetics, safety and cleanliness. In cooperation with the Police Department, we monitor the vending season and handle any complaints from the public or other vendors. The Albany County Health Department monitors for health compliance and will cite vendors who are in violation of state or county law.
While not licensed or permitted, we monitor the insurance and proper conduct of farm markets on city property as well. The City Clerk works closely with Business Improvement Districts on siting farmers markets and establishing additional vending venues.
Special Events Permits
The City permits non-city sponsored events in Washington Park, Lincoln Park, Rensselaer Lake, Corning Preserve, Academy Park, City Hall Rotunda, and other public spaces. These include activities such as neighborhood block parties, use of sidewalks and streets for marches, civil protests and demonstrations, sports-related festivals, outdoor events sponsored by restaurants and other specialty establishments, and fundraising activities for not-for-profit organizations. Some type of Police, Fire and Department of General Services assistance is usually required and may involve overtime and charge backs. The City Clerk accepts applications and fees and disseminates the application to the various departments for approval. The City Clerk also convenes meetings with city departments and organizers to determine if the event is in the best interest of Albany residents, meets safety requirements and has appropriate financial backing. Pending approval by all departments involved, we issue the permit and convey any special guidelines or requirements to the organizers. We also communicate all denials. We work closely with restaurants, Business Improvement Districts, entertainment venues, and individuals to help facilitate events that promote the city, its neighborhoods and economy. All special events must carry an insurance rider listing the City of Albany as an additional insured.
• Click here for Special Event & Facility Use Permit Application
Outdoor Cafe Permits
The City of Albany permits outdoor cafes that offer dining service and create an ambiance on city streets attracting visitors and residents, alike. This office accepts applications from restaurant owners and sends applications to various departments for approval – Development and Planning, City Engineer, Traffic Safety and Fire Department. We work with the Historic Resources Commission to insure that proper design, furniture and façade standards are met, and work through the planning process to make sure safety, aesthetic and health considerations are considered prior to permit approval. We then monitor cafes and receive complaints if problems arise. In cooperation with other city departments, Business Improvement Districts and others, we investigate complaints about cafes and make sure all café operators are licensed and in compliance. When necessary, the Clerk can hold hearings on non-complying cafes and establish additional guidelines or revoke a permit.
• Click here for application
Bingo and Games of Chance
All charitable organizations that conduct bingos, and games of change (bell jars, and other raffles) must be licensed by the municipality where the game is held, and by the State of New York. We serve as the agent of the New York State Department of Racing and Wagering in providing this service. We receive applications and issue licenses. Most locations have one or more times for bingo each week, with multiple games at each. We accept specified proceeds as mandated by New York State Law and distribute them accordingly. Working with a part-time bingo inspector, the City Clerk’s Office receives and investigates all complaints based on violations of state wagering laws and we cooperate with Racing and Wagering on any investigations initiated by the state. This office completes quarterly reports and annual reports for the state, and serves as the repository for all documents required by the state.
As required by state and local law, the Office of the City Clerk processes licenses for the following: Second Hand /Collateral Loan Dealers, Door-to-Door Salespersons, Auctioneers and Auctions, Pool Halls and all tables, Coin Operated Amusement Devices, and Junk Dealers. We accept applications and fees on a staggered schedule throughout the year, with all licenses renewed on an annual basis. Where appropriate, we send applications to the Police Dept. for a criminal record/background check. We then notify the applicant of approval or denial, and if approved, issue a license. Theaters within city limits are licensed each year, as well, and a per-screen fee is paid. While the NYS Liquor Authority licenses all establishments that serve alcohol, all businesses applying for a liquor license or renewal must notify the city of its intent by filing a letter with the City Clerk. Letters of intent are communicated to the Common Council who can bring community concerns to the attention of the SLA prior to the license or renewal being granted. In addition, we issue all Open Container Permits for the consumption of alcohol on public property, and approve the catering and serving/sale of liquor at outdoor locations related to not-for-profit fundraisers, sporting events and festivals that are not administered or sponsored by the City.
In addition, your business may need to contact state or county permitting offices. These are frequently contacted offices, but are not a comprehensive list of permits your particular business will be required to obtain:
New York State Permits
State Liquor Authority
80 S. Swan Street
Albany, NY 12210
Albany County Permits
Albany County Departments of Health
175 Green Street
Albany, NY 12202