Land Use Leadership Alliance Training Program

The Land Use Law Center leads the nation in educating local land use leaders through training programs in land use law and community decision-making.  It has graduated over 2000 leaders from its four-day intensive Land Use Leadership Alliance (LULA) training program and garnered over 100 formal resolutions of support from local governments and businesses.

"A model program for the nation, one that is institutionalizing sustainable development at the local level." 

- Paul Johnson, Former Chief of the Natural Resources
Conservation Service, USDA                                   


Program Description

The LULA training program was founded in 1995 to address general land use matters in the suburban and rural communities of New York State.  Since then, it has expanded to train leaders in New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Utah, and its curriculum has grown to include issues faced in urban communities.  Each four-day 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.  Participants are given a range of tools and techniques to utilize in both the land use and decision-making contexts.

Participating in the LULA Program

Candidates for this program are respected and objective local leaders who are nominated by the program’s steering committee, sponsors, and trainers.  Nominees are often chairs and members of the legislative body; planning and zoning board members; administrative board members; members of other local bodies involved in the land use process; local landowners, developers, business leaders, community activists, and representatives of civic and environmental groups.


LULA Theory & Practice

When accepting nominations, we look for candidates who use law and consensus building theory to help their communities understand that solutions to complex, persistent problems are more likely to be reached through authentic collaborative initiatives than adversarial processes.  Each day, participants in the program engage in lecture-based learning, experiential learning, and unstructured, social interaction with other leaders.  Through unstructured components and breakout sessions, participants develop relationships, build trust, and learn from the experiences of other leaders.

The teaching of the LULA program 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.



Impacts: Case Studies

Many of the program’s graduates have reported significant success in leading their communities to effective action to preserve historic centers, revitalize their riverfronts, arrest negative development patterns, achieve intermunicipal planning, preserve farm land, and to enhance their economic development prospects.  As a direct result of a previous training program, the communities in the Long Island Sound watershed area in Westchester County negotiated an intermunicipal agreement to cooperate regarding the protection of the watershed and collaborated in seeking state funding to start that process.

In April and May of 1999, a program was held for 13 communities in the Wappinger's Creek Watershed area of Dutchess County.  Invited to participate were three local leaders from the following communities: the towns of Clinton, East Fishkill, Fishkill, Hyde Park, Le Grange, Milan, Pine Plains, Pleasant Valley, Poughkeepsie, Stanford, Wappingers, and Washington and the villages of Millbrook and Wappingers.  Again, these leaders convened for a fifth day, agreed to establish an intermunicipal council and submitted an application to the state for a $250,000 grant to conserve watershed assets they share.  The communities are still working together to address water quality issues throughout the entire watershed in a program that is serving as a model for other communities.


Click here for more information on the LULA program


Resources for LULA Graduates

Participation in the LULA program does not end after four days.
Below are just a few of the Land Use Law Center’s resources that are available to LULA graduates at any time.

Land Use Law Center Newsletter

The Land Use Law Center’s Newsletter is a free, electronic newsletter containing information and resources designed to help communities achieve a sustainable future.  Created to address the needs of local officials, planners, engineers, attorneys, developers, and concerned citizens, the Newsletter features:

  • Community profiles by leaders in the Hudson Valley region
  • Land use innovations and successes from NY & other states
  • Updates on Land Use Law Center research, publications, events, and municipal assistance programs

To receive the electronic newsletter, send your name, address, telephone number, and e-mail address to:

Gaining Ground Database

The Center’s Gaining Ground Information Database (available at features methods used by government to control the use of land in the public interest.  It can be browsed by research topic and includes a collection of federal, state, and local ordinances; commentaries; research papers; and research aids.


To highlight the exciting work of the Center and address the interests of local leaders, practitioners, students, and academics, the Land Use Law Center produces a range of publications on key topics in land use, real estate, environmental law, and alternative dispute resolution.  Selected publications, including books, newsletters, and journal articles are available in hardcopy and PDF form.  For detailed descriptions and information on how to place an order, visit the “Publications” tab on our website or e-mail us at to request a brochure.

Land Use Law Center Website

In addition to the above resources, graduates can use this website to find further information about our organizationupcoming events, podcasts, and more.