Center Publications



Well Grounded: Using Local Land Use Authority to Achieve Smart Growth

The book places land use practice into the national perspective of sprawl and smart growth, by fully describing one of the nation's most complete state land use regimes-the New York system. The New York system is highly textured, employing land use devices at the state, county, and local government levels, and it is typical of the approaches and techniques increasingly used in most of the other 49 states.

The book covers the history of land use practice from its evolution in 1916 to the very latest developments, including Palazzollo v. Rhode Island, the important regulatory takings case just handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court. It also describes the political history of land use law in New York, including some stunning victories and defeats which explain why land use law is practiced as it is today. Each chapter provides basic definitions of all topics before delving into more complicated applications of them.

Well Grounded is a comprehensive, easy-to-use, and practical reference for land use officials and professionals, academics, and citizens in all states.

Approx. 500 pages. $49.95.

Open Ground: Effective Local Strategies for Protecting Natural Resources

The preservation of open space has captured the public`s imagination. Disappearance of open space is associated with the general degradation of the quality of community life, and in a broader sense, what is happening to open space is what is happening to the local environment.

Most books on environmental protection focus on the critical role of federal and state legislation, and agencies in promoting and protecting environmental values. When one turns to the subject of open space protection, the role of local governments, their legislatures and administrative bodies, is paramount. Local governments in most states have been delegated primary responsibility for determining how private land is developed and conserved. The result being that when requests for local approval of development projects are made, local boards do not have the power to properly protect their environmental resources.

Despite this reality, there is no comprehensive source of information about strategies available to localities to protect the environment. This book is designed to fill that void. It is offered with the knowledge that properly drafted land use ordinances, land acquisition programs, and smart growth strategies can protect critical landscapes and valued natural resources. These initiatives can counter the negative effects of polluted run-off, erosion and sedimentation, habitat removal, wetland disappearance, and water quality degradation that comes from the improper location of buildings and other improvements, poorly managed site clearance and management, and environmentally insensitive construction practices.

Approx. 600 pages.
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New Ground: The Advent of Local Environmental Law

Local governments have adopted a host of environmental laws that establish new standards governing the use of the land. These are found in traditional land use laws, including zoning and subdivision regulations, as well as in regulations that protect particular environmental features such as ridgelines, wetlands, watersheds, scenic viewsheds, and waterbodies. This is a very recent movement, but one that has proceeded far enough to demonstrate the powerful role that local governments can play in the nation`s efforts to protect natural resources and to maintain environmental quality. The advent of local environmental law challenges practitioners and academics to describe this new field and explain its relationship to traditional concepts of environmental and land use law.

New Ground: The Advent of Local Environmental Law presents a collection of papers examining local environmental law and its strategic role in shaping an appropriate response to a new generation of environmental and land use challenges. Contributors are distinguished scholars and practitioners who have written casebooks and articles on land use and environmental law, served in federal, state, and local administrations or national bar and planning association committees, or prepared national treatises on the subject. Their papers were presented at a symposium hosted by Pace University School and co-sponsored by ELI. The book includes a detailed explanation of this developing field by the editor, the participants` papers, and their commentaries at the symposium.

Approx. 400 pages. $35.95.
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Protecting the Environment Through Land Use Law: Standing Ground

Professor John R. Nolon’s Protecting the Environment through Land Use Law: Standing Ground takes a close look at the historical struggle local governments face balancing land development with natural resource conservation. This new book updates and expands on his four previous books, which established a comprehensive framework for understanding the many ways that local land use authority can be used to preserve natural resources and environmental functions at the community level.  All royalties from the book will go to the Center to support tits staff and students in preparing research reports for local government leaders. 

Standing Ground describes in detail how localities are responding to new challenges, including the imperative that they adapt to and help mitigate climate change and create sustainable neighborhoods. This body of work emphasizes the critical importance of law in protecting the environment and promoting sustainable development.  The book opens with a historical overview of land use law, offering a clear explanation of the legal foundations of local environmental law within the federal legal system. In addition to providing guidance on how traditional land use techniques—planning, zoning, and development regulations—can be used to protect the environment, Professor Nolon explores more innovative and flexible methods for protecting fragile environmental areas and for making urban neighborhoods livable. He then turns to climate change effects on sea level and storm surges, examining local strategies for disaster preparation, mitigation, and recovery:  all the elements of resiliency. Professor Nolon then discusses the growing emphasis on green infrastructure and urban agriculture as crucial strategies for fostering a healthy environment and analyzes the role of environmental impact review. Finally, the book concludes with a discussion of environmental dispute resolution and consensus-based land use decision-making.

Standing Ground is both a call to action—challenging readers to consider how local law and policy can augment state and federal conservation efforts—and a celebration of the valuable role local governments play in protecting our environment. The book is an essential text for policy makers, academics, students, politicians, and practitioners faced with the challenge of balancing conservation and development in a changing world.

Approx. 440 pages. $69.95.

Critical Environmental Area Overlay

The Critical Environmental Area Overlay is a model ordinance that attempts to regulate large land areas in a way that preserves ecosystem processes. This model critical environmental area overlay district was drafted by the by the Land Use Law Center and in conjunction with the Metropolitan Conservation Alliance, a program of the Wildlife Conservation Society. The purpose of the Critical Environmental Area Overlay District is to protect large open spaces so that ecological processes continue to function with minimal disturbance, biodiversity is maintained, and fragmentation is avoided. The model ordinance is based on the assumption that municipalities have already adopted zoning, subdivision and site plan regulations. The overlay regulations are therefore not substituted for existing zoning regulations. Rather, the regulations are designed to provide communities with additional review and control over development projects to ensure that the ecological integrity of the land is maintained.

A draft of the model overlay ordinance can be obtained by contacting the Metropolitan Conservation Alliance at 68 Purchase Street, 3rd Floor, Rye, New York 10580; Telephone (914) 925-9175.


Model Coastal Resilience Guidance and Code Language

Abstract - As extreme weather events have increased in intensity and frequency, municipalities at risk have begun to respond by amending their land use plans, codes, and policies to become more resilient; however, these communities often encounter challenges with understanding and assessing their current land use practices as they make these changes. In 2017, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) partnered to create the Community Resilience: Implementation and Strategic Enhancements (C-RISE) Local Assessment Tool, a decision-support tool that helps communities assess how their existing plans, codes, and policies currently support resilience. The C-RISE Local Assessment Tool helps communities identify planning and regulatory strategies to improve coastal storm preparedness and resiliency. To assist communities with this process, the Land Use Law Center has selected a group of strategies from the C-RISE Resilience Goal Area 3 Reduce risk to people, buildings, and facilities in vulnerable areas and developed annotated model codes based on 1) New York State’s DRAFT Model Local Laws under development by DOS and 2) community examples and other models that provide the foundation for the State models.

For full report please click here.