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Mediation Tools

Written by: Kerry Hutcherson, Kristen McElduff, Daniel Pennessi, Kory Salomone, and Stephanie Talbert

Local newspapers often report on conflicts over the development and preservation of land. Typically, the debate about conservation and growth is characterized by hostility, adversarial behavior, and sometimes, violence. New developments have been bombed and vandalized by environmentalists and developers have sued opponent for their efforts to block projects. Almost always tempers flare at public hearings and little civic or productive dialogue is heard. The reason these conflicts are driving communities apart and producing unsatisfactory results is that they are being handled improperly. Conflicts that are managed properly can spur innovation, produce satisfactory solutions, and bring communities together. Techniques exist to improve the land use decision-making process and have been used for the last twenty years across the nation. This program is designed to help community leaders access dispute resolution services to manage these conflicts in a more productive way. The goal of this program is to encourage local governments to use alternatives to the traditional, adversarial decision-making system through publications, training and practice.



Land Use Law Center Publications

*These publications were written by members of our Land Use Law Center.



  • Land Use Mediation: A Local Leader's Guide, by Sean F. Nolon, Ed. White Planis: Land Use Law Center, 2003.

  • Land Use Conflicts: Before Going to Court, Consider Using Mediators to Negotiate, by Sean F. Nolon, New York Law Journal, October 30, 2001.

  • How Military Strategy Argues for the Increased Use of Mediators in Land Use Approvals, by Sean F. Nolon.

  • Addressing Local Environmental and Land Use Controversies  Through Mediation , by John R.  Nolon, New York Law Journal, 8/18/99. 

  • Open Meetings Land Use Mediation and the Public's Right to Know, by John R. Nolon, New York Law Journal, 2/19/03.

  • Smart Growth: Finding Mediation Tools for Regional Land Use Disputes, by John R. Nolon, New York Law Journal, 12/20/00.

  • Land Use Law Center Annual Report 2000.  White Plains: Land Use Law Center, 2003.




Land Use Center Library



Land Use Mediation



  • “Mediation as a Tool in Local Environmental and Land Use Controversies,” by John R. Nolon. New York Law Journal, August 18, 1999, Wednesday, REAL ESTATE UPDATE; Environmental Law; Pg. 5 


  • “Mediating land use disputes in the United States: pros and cons (Record in progress),” by Lawrence Susskind, Mieke van der Wansem, and Armand Ciccareli. Environments, June, 2003, v.31(2) 2003 pg 39-58. 

  • “Mediations in the Public Interest: Land Use Examples,” by Edith M. Netter Zoning and Planning Law Report, March 1995 Vol. 18, No. 3.


  • “Using Mediation to Resolve Land Use Disputes,” by Edith M. Netter. Zoning and Planning Law Report, April 1992 Vol. 15, No. 4.

  • “Consensus Building as Role Playing and Bricolage: Toward a Theory of Collaborative Planning,” by Judith E. Innes and David E. Booher. Journal of the American Planning Association, Vol. 65, No. 1, Winter 1999.

  • “Consensus Building and Complex Adaptive Systems: A Framework for Evaluating Collaborative Planning,” Judith E. Innes and David E. Booher. Journal of the American Planning Association, Autumn 1999, Vol. 65, No. 4, Pg. 412.

  • “Environmental & Land Use Law,” Dix, Martin R., Richard P. Lee, and Alicia M. Santana.  FL Bar Journal, November 1995.

  • “Important Options for Municipal Government,” Travers, Michael K.  Colorado Lawyer, June 1995.


Other Relevant Articles:  


  • “Using Mediation to Resolve Land Use Disputes,” Edith M. Netter, Zoning and Planning Law Report, April, 1992.

  • “Local Government Use of Mediation for Resolution of Public Disputes,” Barbara McAdoo and Larry Bakken, The Urban Lawyer, Spring 1990.

  • “Land Use Mediation for Planners,” Joseph Tomain, Mediation Quarterly, Winter 1989.

  • Pace Environmental Law Review, 2002, Symposium Edition
    “What’s Really Needed to Effectuate Resource Protection in Communities,” by Jayne E. Daly.

  • New York Law Journal, November 26, 2003, Wednesday, NEWS; Pg. 5, ZONING AND LAND USE PLANNING “Another Approach: Future Is Bright for Alternative Dispute Resolutions,” By John M. Armentano. 

  • The Journal News (Westchester County, NY), December 11, 2003 Thursday, OPINION; Pg. 10B, “A promising step,” Staff
    If not the "road map to peace" that would guarantee an end to the municipal border wars ignited by development proposals, an agreement between the Town of Greenburgh and Village of Ardsley shows that neighboring communities can at least open up constructive lines of communication.



Mediating in the Land Use Context 


  • Wondolleck, Julia M., and Steven L. Yaffe.  Making Collaboration Work; Lessons from Innovation in Natural Resource Management.  Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 2000.

  • Duany, Andres, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, and Jeff Speck.  Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream.  Union Square West: North Point Press, 2000.

  • Sitarz, Daniel.  Agenda 21: The Earth Summit Strategy to Save Our Planet.  Boulder: Earth Press, 1993.

  • Cisneros, Henry G.  Interwoven Destinies: Cities and the Nation.  New York: W.W. Norton & Co., Inc., 1993.  (Former Secretary, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development)

  • Rusk, David.  Inside Game Outside Game, Winning Strategies for Saving Urban America.  The Century Foundation, 1999.

  • Forester, John.  The Deliberate Practitioner, Encouraging Participatory Planning Processes.  Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2001.

  • Makower, Joel.  Beyond the Bottom Line; Putting Social Responsibility to Work for Your business and the World.  New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994.

  • Linowes, Robert R., and Don T. Allensworth.  The Politics of Land-Use Law; Developers vs. Citizens, groups in the Courts.  New York: Praeger Publishers, Inc., 1996.

Mediating Generally


  • Swartz, Roger M.  The Skilled Facilitator; Practical Wisdom for Developing Effective Groups.  San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Inc., Publishers, 1994.

  • Peck, M.D., M. Scott.  The Different Drum: Community Making and Peace.  New York: Touchstone, Simon and Schuster, 1987.

  • Covey, Steven R.  Principle-Centered Leadership.  New York: Fireside, Simon and Schuster, 1990.

  • Heifetz, Ronald A.  Leadership without Easy Answers.  Cambridge, MA:  The Belknap Press of Harvard University, 1994.

  • Brain, Michael K.  Practical Politics: Five Principles for a Community that Works.  Chicago: University of IL Press, 1999.

  • Green, Judith M.  Deep Democracy: Community, Diversity, and Transformation.  Lanham, M.D.:  Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc. 1999.

  • Isaacs, William.  Dialogue and the Art of Thinking Together: A Pioneering Approach to Communicating in Business and in Life.  New York: Currency, Doubleday, 1999.

  • Yankelovich, Daniel.  The Magic of Dialogue: Transforming Conflict into Cooperation.  New York: Simon and Schuster, 1999.

  • Griffin, Em.  A First Look at Communication Theory.  McGraw-Hill, 2000.

  • Gillette, Jonathan, and Marion McCollom.  Groups in Context, A New Perspective on Group Dynamics.  Lanham: University Press of America, 1995.

  • Schelling, Thomas C.  The Strategy of Conflict.  Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1960.

  • Raiffa, Howard.  The Art and Science of Negotiation; How to Resolve Conflicts and Get the Best out of Bargaining.  Cambridge: The Belknap Press, 1982.

  • Phillips, Barbara Ashley.  The Mediation Field Guide, Transcending Litigation and Resolving Conflicts in Your Business or Organization.  San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 2001.

  • Mnookin, Robert H., and Lawrence E. Susskind.  Negotiating on Behalf of Others, Advice to Lawyers, Business Executives, Sports Agents, Diplomats, Politicians, and Everybody Else.  London” Sage Publications, Inc., 1999.

  • Fisher, Roger, and William Ury.  Getting to Yes; Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In.  London: Penguin Books, 1981.

  • Ury, William.  Getting Past No, Negotiating Your Way from Confrontation to Cooperation.  New York: Bantam Books, 1981.

  • Fisher, Roger.  Beyond Machiavelli; Tools for Coping with Conflict.  Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1994.

  • Ury, William.  The Third Side.  New York:  Penguin Press, 1999.

  • Senge, Peter.  The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook, Strategies and Tools for Building a Learning Organization.  New York: Doubleday, 1994.

  • Peters, Thomas J., and Robert H. Waterman.  In Search of Excel