Intermunicipal Cooperation Tools

Written by:  Noelle Crisalli, Anthony Cuomo, Tuvia Kimmel, and Margo Worms 

 Intermunicipal Cooperation is a cooperative or contractual arrangement between two or more municipalities.  Under the Town, Village, and General City Law, local governments are specifically authorized to participate in intermunicipal cooperation to adopt compatible comprehensive plans and zoning laws as well as other land use regulations, including wetlands and floodplain laws; aquifer protection, watershed enhancement, and corridor development plans; and historic preservation, cultural resource protection, erosion control, and visual buffering programs.  Local governments also may agree to establish joint planning, zoning, historic preservation and conservation advisory boards and to hire joint inspection and enforcement officers. 

Intermunicipal Cooperation can provide for more cost-effective and consistent enforcement of existing land use plans and regulations.  One municipality may agree to be responsible for hiring and supervising enforcement officers on behalf of itself and one or more others.  Two or more municipalities may agree to hire enforcement and administrative personnel for land use purposes and to supervise them jointly and share the costs.  Any local administrative agency that handles land use issues can be established as a joint board with one or more nearby communities.


Intermunicipal Cooperation



Existing Councils                   Forming a Council             Statues and Cases

Land Use_Intermunicipal  Cooperation 1            Land Use_Intermunicipal  Cooperation 2     Land Use_Intermunicipal  Cooperation 3


Funding                       Articles                             Publications

Land Use_Intermunicipal  Cooperation 4        Land Use_Intermunicipal  Cooperation 5     Land Use_Intermunicipal  Cooperation 6





o       Perform a needs assessment

o       Contact neighboring governments


o       General principals

§        Develop a mission statement and goals - see appendix D

·        Northern Dutchess Alliance mission statement

§        Identify stakeholders  see appendix E

·        Communicate with stakeholders- keep them informed at each stage of the study through memos, newsletters and meeting minutes.

§         Identify a steering committee

§         Create a budget for the study

§         Develop an organizational chart  - see appendix C

§         Establish a project timeline

§         Complete the study

§         Clearly communicate the results of the study with stakeholders


o       Introductory transitional meeting

§         Present the study

§         Create an action plan for implementation

o       On-going transitional activities

§         Identify the terms of the Intermunicipal Council Agreement

·        Ensure that each participating municipality has the authority to perform the functions delegated to the Intermunicipal Council individually 

·        Identify short, medium and long term goals

·        Determine how each community will be represented

·        Develop the organizational structure of the Council

·        Decide the commitment of resources by each participating municipality

·        Devise a method for dispute resolution


o       Adopting the agreement

§         Formally document the agreement

§         Gain approval for the Intermunicipal Council by a majority vote of the legislature of each participating municipality

o       Ongoing Management- Think Regionally!!

§         Work towards consistent comprehensive plans and land use regulations

§         Be inclusive

§         Provide broad communication through many mediums

§         Be proactive, flexible and patient

§         Pay attention to detail

§         Share costs

§         Be sensitive about who takes credit for programs

§         Deal directly with problems      

§         Learn from positive and negative experiences

§         Seek grants and tax benefits

§         Maintain a cooperative spirit

Ø      Resources

General Municipal Law Article 5-G 

Intermunicipal Cooperation and Consolidation, Exploring Opportunities for Savings and Improved Service Delivery

Published by the New York State Office of the State Comptroller, Division of Local Government Services and Economic Development. 

Local Government Management Guide

Published by the New York State Office of the State Comptroller, Division of Local Government Services and Economic Development.

  A Local Leader’s Guide to Intermunicipal Land Use Cooperation

Starting Ground Series, Pace University Land Use Law Center.





The Northern Dutchess Alliance

The Northern Dutchess Alliance (NDA) was formed in 1996 and formally incorporated in 1999 as a coalition of business, government, non-profit and community organizations.  It focuses on regional planning issues of balanced growth, economic development, and community preservation.  It was organized to improve quality of life, to help integrate private and public activities, and to promote economic development in northwestern Dutchess County, while protecting and promoting the area’s historical and cultural assets. 

The organization has an executive committee and conducts open meetings most months on current issues affecting members of the NDA.  These meetings are generally open to anyone interested in the topic.  The NDA has not had any staff assistance, but has recently secured funding to hire a staff assistant.  All participating communities have sent representatives to the Community Leadership Alliance Training Program, although the NDA was formed independently of the training program. The NDA has worked with the Countryside Exchange to hold an intensive area-wide analysis of the land use, economical, and environmental issues facing the region.

Northern Dutchess Alliance website

President: Mary Ann Johnson

Work Phone: (845) 757-2021



The Harlem Valley Partnership, Inc.

The Harlem Valley Partnership (HVP) is a non-profit agency, based in Dover Plains, concerned with economic development and regional cooperation. The HVP is committed to promoting cooperation among its member communities for the purpose of identifying and developing a regional response to their shared issues, opportunities, and problems.

The Harlem Valley is separated from the rest of Dutchess County by the Taconic Mountain range, and is therefore geographically removed from the typical economic development activities in western Dutchess County. It is connected to the New York City metropolitan area by Metro-North Commuter Railroad's Harlem Division Line and NYS Route 22 which have both seen significant increased usage by commuters and tourists in recent years.

The Harlem Valley Partnership, Inc. was formally incorporated as an independent non-profit in 1994, after expanding from the original Harlem Valley Planning Partnership which was formed in 1988. The Partnership's Board of Directors consists of public and private sector representatives of the five towns and two villages of the Harlem Valley. These communities are the Town of Pawling, Village of Pawling, Town of Dover, Town of Amenia, Town of North East, Village of Millerton, and Town of Pine Plains.

Harlem Valley Partnership website

Contact: Michael Hagerty

Work Phone: (845) 877-3738



 Historic River Towns of Westchester

Historic River Towns of Westchester has a prime objective of advancing economic growth through tourism, riverfront renewal projects, and downtown revitalization.  Participating communities include all the municipalities on the east side of the Hudson River from Peekskill to Yonkers in Westchester County.  The mayors and supervisors of each municipality determine the direction and policy of the government.  There is no Executive Committee, however the body meets monthly.  The chairman and project directors hold occasional meetings with the mayors and supervisors, as well as monthly meetings with constituents.  The Council forms committees on specific projects as they arise. 

The Council is conducting a variety of programs.  Such programs include a seasonable brochure highlighting community special events, a restaurant guide, annual two-month Hudson Heritage Fall Festival, beautification competition, and trolleys connecting historic sites, train stations and main street shopping districts.  There is a comprehensive calendar of events located on the Council’s website, to keep citizens and tourists informed about current events.  The Council is also working on a “Riverwalk” connecting all the local waterfronts.  An annual forum may be organized to deal with smart growth issues and strategies. 

Currently the Council is developing a unified signage system for all 13 member communities along the Route 9 corridor.  Grants from the New York Department of State and Hudson River Valley Greenway are aiding the funding for this project

Money and staffing are sufficient to carry on the current level of activity.  Staff assistance is provided by consultants, personnel form the Westchester Department of Planning, a project director, clerical support and a bookkeeper.  A major strength of the Historic River Towns of Westchester is grass-roots involvement of people who have particular passions, e.g. the river, the arts, traffic calming, trailways, marketing, planning issues, etc.  All contribute greatly to the organization’s activities and successes.  Funding of $90,000 is currently coming from County grants and municipal dues.  The funding is being used for program operations and marketing.  The Council hopes to bring increased tourist spending to Main Street.  It has expended its original mission of tourism and marketing to include waterfront revitalization and downtown renewal.  D