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The Center provides research, training, technical assistance, support, and strategic planning services to communities and individuals. Working with trained law students, the Center quickly, affordably, and effectively develops techniques to remedy nearly all types of land use problems that afflict urban, suburban, and rural communities.
The Center enjoys a track record of successful implementation in partnership with local land use leaders, state and federal agencies, and other change agents. It accomplishes this through its programs and catalytic demonstration projects, which cover a range of topics related to land use planning and regulation, including:
The Land Use Law Center leads the nation in educating local land use leaders through training programs in land use law and collaborative decision-making. Since 1995, over 2,500 leaders across five states have graduated from its four-day intensive Land Use Leadership Alliance Training Program, which has garnered over 100 formal resolutions of support from local governments and businesses. The Center also conducts one-day municipal training programs for government staff and civic leaders. Each training program is designed to meet the needs of its participants and their communities by focusing on both foundational and cutting-edge information related to their priority land use issues. Teaching in the Center’s training programs is based on a “train the trainer” model, through which participants are empowered to share their program experience with others. This model encourages the creation of leadership networks, initiates and supports grassroots regionalism, creates opportunities for civic engagement, and fosters sustainable communities. Trainees have reported significant success in leading their communities to effective action to preserve historic centers, revitalize their riverfronts, arrest undesired development patterns, achieve intermunicipal planning, preserve farm land, and to enhance their economic development prospects.
COLLABORATIVE DECISION-MAKING AND FACILITATION
The Land Use Law Center, with support from Pace Law School’s Kheel Center on the Resolution of Environmental Interest Disputes, also specializes in training municipal planners and other leaders to run effective stakeholder engagement and collaborative community visioning processes. Whether embarking on a comprehensive planning process, a transit station area plan, or any other initiative in need of effective and amicable stakeholder input, the Center can offer facilitation services or it can train local leaders in successful collaborative decision-making.
RESEARCH, CONSULTING & TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE
Through research and innovation, the Land Use Law Center identifies and addresses cutting-edge land use issues, encourages greater settlement in urban areas, and promotes the preservation of critical environmental resources. The Center works with urban communities to identify obstacles to redevelopment and create opportunities for revitalization, and with suburban and rural communities to identify appropriate development sites and areas for conservation. The Center provides research, consulting services, and technical assistance to communities dealing with a wide range of topics. Examples of consulting and technical assistance projects conducted by the Center include:
Transit Oriented Development Demonstration Project
The Center developed best practices in transit area planning and zoning, as well as a model citizen planning process for transit station area planning in a community within NY’s Hudson Valley region. The Center worked with the community to create a demonstration project that is being shared with neighboring communities.
Creation of Sustainable Neighborhood Technical Guidance Manual
In collaboration with the U.S. Green Building Council and with funding from the Oram Foundation, the Center created a technical guidance manual that directs communities through the process of using the LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system to audit local plans, codes, and policies to incentivize sustainable growth and eliminate barriers to sustainable development projects. The manual includes a model sustainable development floating zone ordinance that localities may adopt.
Drafting of Local Stormwater Management Law
The Center drafted a local stormwater management law, which has been adopted by the majority of the 450 communities in New York State that are obligated to comply with the EPA’s Phase II stormwater regulations, and which is used by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation as the standard for measuring municipal compliance.
Development of Green Building Programs
After studying hundreds of green building programs from across the country, the Center developed a hybrid regulatory and incentive-based approach to green building regulation for one of the largest cities in New York. It has also worked with a major urban center in New Jersey to develop a green guide for sustainable development within the city.
Creation of a Distressed and Vacant Property Program
With funding from the Ford Foundation, the Center created an implementation plan for remediating distressed properties in an economically depressed city. With the assistance of the Center for Community Progress, the Land Use Law Center identified and evaluated existing strategies to remediate distressed properties in the city and prepared recommendations on how to mitigate the adverse effects of troubled properties in the city. With the support of the staff and administration and ratification by the City Council, the Center initiated implementation of the plan, which includes creation of a land bank and redevelopment readiness strategies.
Local Land Use Response to Sea Level Rise Report
The Center created a report for The Nature Conservancy (TNC) detailing how states and local governments are addressing sea level rise impacts and storm hazards through innovative ordinances and regulations. The report was developed in conjunction with TNC’s Coastal Resilience interactive web mapping tool, which assists decision-makers in assessing alternative future scenarios that address sea level rise, storm surge, and community vulnerability.
Wind Energy Guidebook
In partnership with the Pace Energy and Climate Center, the Land Use Law Center created a land use framework for municipalities to plan for and regulate wind energy development. The framework contains a policy statement for local adoption, approaches to local studies and citizen participation, information regarding development moratoria and local planning, as well as guidance on writing a local wind law and opportunities for intermunicipal cooperation and financial incentives. This project was completed for the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) as part of its initiative to update the State Wind Energy Toolkit.
Fair & Affordable Housing Project
With support from the Ford Foundation and in conjunction with the Housing Action Council (HAC), the Center is providing technical assistance to communities affected by the Westchester County Implementation Plan and Settlement Order, helping them permanently overcome the impediments to creating fair and affordable housing. Through this assistance, the Center and HAC are laying the groundwork for a systemic change within the region to create welcoming communities that reexamine current patterns of zoning, density, and planning.
CREATION OF REGIONAL NETWORKS
Through its programs, the Land Use Law Center creates strong regional networks of dedicated leaders to whom it can easily disseminate cutting-edge best practice models and newly developed tools and techniques for sustainable conservation and development. These networks include:
Land Use Leadership Alliance (LULA)
Since 1995, the Center has graduated over 2,500 leaders across five states from its four-day LULA training program and has garnered over 100 formal resolutions of support from local governments and businesses. The Alliance is a network of dedicated leaders, which remains in close contact with the Center after graduation from the program. As part of the expansion and growth of the LULA program, the Center has partnered with Cornell University’s Community and Rural Development Institute, Albany Law School’s Government Law Center, the Eastern Connecticut Resource Conservation and Development Area, Inc., and the Utah Land Use Institute to train leaders under the LULA model.
Mayors Redevelopment Roundtable (MRR)
Initiated in 2008 with Congressionally directed funding secured by Congresswoman Nita Lowey, the MRR is a partnership of ten cities in the lower Hudson Valley region of New York State – cities that have a combined population totaling over 500,000, over 15% of whom live at or below the poverty level – working together, organized and led by the Land Use Law Center, on shared strategies for revitalization and sustainable growth. The Center meets quarterly with the MRR group and works closely with the mayors, their attorneys, and development staffs, state and federal agencies, and other professional partners to ensure that the cities engage in transformative initiatives, build a base for continued and efficient intermunicipal and regional cooperation, and develop incentives and regulatory strategies to further a sustainable pattern of human settlement.
Corporation Counsels Roundtable (CCR)
The CCR addresses the many shared legal issues faced by the ten cities in the Mayors’ Redevelopment Roundtable. As part of the CCR, the Land Use Law Center, with support from Pace Law School’s Kheel Center, facilitates a bimonthly discussion among attorneys representing these communities to discuss their common issues and possible solutions. The Center serves a research and advisory role for issues related to sustainable land use and environmental law, as well as for guidance on how to effectively resolve disputes and build consensus.
Chief Elected Officials (CEO) Roundtable
The CEO Roundtable, constituted by leaders from the communities affected by the Westchester County fair and affordable housing Implementation Plan and Settlement Order and similar communities in other parts of the sub-region, was initiated in 2010 by the Center, with support from the Ford Foundation, to collaborate on the implementation of fair and affordable housing strategies in suburban communities.