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Posting this publicly so hopefully others can be befitted from it too!
Welcome to Newburgh! While Cecily is sort of right in her description, you are here because you bought a property in the City. Her information is for the Town and only applies to the Town. Same name, completely different set of rules, laws, and regulations. And in the City is is really straightforward! Just apply for an Informational Report from the Building Department. http://www.cityofnewburgh-ny.gov/buildingcode-enforcement
First thing, and I tell this to everyone: When you say “its a legal two-family,” MAKE SURE BEFORE YOU BUY. Realtors do not necessarily know and legal occupancy has nothing to do with property class tax codes. They are not the same thing. The only thing that describes legal occupancy is a Certificate of Occupancy with can only be obtained from the Building Department. Just because it is being used a certain way, does not mean that it is legal either.
Historic District designation has no bearing on use and occupancy at all. It only applies to exterior changes and applies whether you change the use or not. Its a straightforward single application where you tell the board how to plan to change the exterior (roof, siding, windows, fencing, etc) and they advise you on historically appropriate materials. http://www.cityofnewburgh-ny.gov/architectural-review-commission
We have two sets of codes that deal with redevelopment: Zoning Code and Building Code.
The Zoning code is relatively straightforward. 3 Family is allowed in most of the City, however in certain Zones you will be required to provide parking and other “area” requirements, or obtain a Variance for them. Again, we will walk you through all that. http://ecode360.com/10875666
The Building Code is where your Design professional comes in (architect usually). The big thing to keep in mind is that 1-2 family dwellings are in New York State’s Residential Code, but 3 family dwellings are in the more onerous Building Code and may require sprinklers or other safety improvements. http://www.dos.ny.gov/dcea/
Finally make sure to remember that all rental units in Newburgh are required to obtain a rental license from the Building Department prior to occupancy.
Please feel free to call me or stop in to 123 Grand Street anytime. You will be looking for an Informational Report from the Building Inspector. Its hard to say generally about your steps, but we will lay it all out in the informational report.
Ali Church, City Planner