This section addresses the concept of “family” in the context of the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code (the “Uniform Code”).
The Uniform Code is promulgated by the State Fire Prevention and Building Code Council pursuant to Article 18 of the Executive Law, and is in effect throughout the State (except in New York City).
The factors which must be considered by the Zoning Administrator are whether the group: , 201 A. For those municipalities which have enacted or are considering adopting definitions of family similar to that of the City of Poughkeepsie, this case lends constitutional support to those efforts. Another technique is to correlate the number of occupants to the size of the structure occupied (e.g., by setting a maximum number of persons for a specified floor area, or requiring a given floor area per resident). Their purpose is to protect health and safety by preventing overcrowding.
In so doing, the courts, in their opinions, have furnished guideposts which communities can follow in crafting a definition of family which meets constitutional due process requirements. The Court stated: "[A]n ordinance may restrict a residential zone to occupancy by stable families occupying single-family homes, but neither by express provision nor construction may it limit the definition of family to exclude a household ‘which in every but a biological sense is a single family.’" (Id.Thus, the definition of family employed here is both fatally overinclusive in prohibiting, for example, a young unmarried couple from occupying a four-bedroom house who do not threaten the purposes of the ordinance and underinclusive in failing to prohibit occupancy of a two-bedroom home by ten or twelve persons who are related in only the most distant manner and who might well be expected to present serious overcrowding and traffic problems." (66 N. 1993) concluded that the federal Fair Housing Act prevented the Town of Babylon from evicting recovering alcoholics and drug addicts from a group home based on the town’s zoning definition of family.Y.2d at 549-550) The Court cited White Plains (supra) for the proposition that a municipality may not seek to achieve its legitimate objectives of preserving the character of single-family neighborhoods by limiting the definition of "family" to exclude a household which in every sense but a biological one is a single family. The town alleged the house was being used in violation of the single family zoning because the residents were transient and not a family.DEFINITION OF "FAMILY" IN ZONING LAW AND BUILDING CODES An appropriate definition of "family" is basic to density and use prescriptions of zoning laws and to the applicability of building code laws.This memorandum discusses the definition in the context of such laws. Supreme Court and many state courts, including our New York Court of Appeals, have examined the question of the definition of family, both in enforcement proceedings and in declaratory judgment actions.