Pace Land Use Law Center Hosts 21st Annual Alfred B. DelBello Land Use and Sustainable Development Conference Recognizing Distinguished Professor John Nolon’s Sweeping Impact on Land Use Law

December 15, 2022
John Nolon Bailey Andree Taylor Palmer

On Thursday, December 8, the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University hosted the 21st annual Alfred B. DelBello Land Use and Sustainable Development Conference. This year’s conference theme was Land Use Under Siege: Revisiting Well Grounded. Additionally, as part of a pre-conference Reception, the Center honored three individuals, including Professor John Nolon, at their Founder’s Award Reception.

The Founder’s Award Reception, held the evening before the annual conference provides a platform to recognize a current Haub Law student, a Haub Law alumni, and an individual or municipality. This year, Taylor M. Palmer '12, a partner with Cuddy & Feder LLP and a Haub Law alumnus, was the recipient of the Distinguished Young Attorney Award, as a result of his ongoing close work with the Land Use Law Center and continued commitment to land use law. Current Haub Law student Bailey Andree was selected as the recipient of the inaugural Professor John R. Nolon Student Achievement Award for her dedication and commitment to excellence in fulfilling the mission of the Land Use Law Center. These significant awards were presented by Paul Beyer, State Director of Smart Growth, NYS Department of State and Noam Bramson, Mayor, City of New Rochelle. In his remarks, Mayor Bramson gave specific examples of the significant impact Professor Nolon and the Land Use Law Center have had on the Hudson Valley. He noted that Professor Nolon’s and the Center’s guidance has allowed for the sensical design and operation of numerous urban centers, which resulted in improvements to the environment, strengthened economies, an enrichment in quality of life, and a positive reflection of values.

Finally, Professor John R. Nolon was honored with the Founder’s Award in recognition of his lifetime career of working collaboratively with numerous communities and his continued ability to foster positive change. The award was presented by Jessica Bacher, Executive Director, Land Use Law Center, and Tiffany Zezula, Deputy Director, Land Use Law Center, who both expressed their gratitude for Professor Nolon’s visionary leadership, guidance and mentorship throughout the years. Both Jessica and Tiffany fondly recalled how Professor Nolon would so effortlessly apply his mediation skills, calming down a client or rewarding a student or staff member with his token treat, a Butterfinger, which was always on hand during meetings. “There’s a true art in mediation, in bringing people together, and John is the leader in it,” they said. “John is the one who truly molded us and so many others to develop their land use talents.”

Each year, the Annual Land Use and Sustainable Development Conference brings together hundreds of attorneys, business professionals, academics, and local leaders to learn about national, regional, and local innovations and best practices. These thought leaders and policy makers convene to confront the challenges that are faced in land use. This year’s conference theme, explored the aspirational work of Professor John Nolon and the necessity for a new approach to properly using local land use law, all through a series of innovative and interesting sessions, panels, and lectures.

“Professor John Nolon’s life’s work provided the platform for this year’s annual conference – which both explored the necessity of a new approach to properly using local land use law while also recognizing and honoring the groundbreaking research and work of Professor John Nolon,” said Dean Horace Anderson. “Since founding the Land Use Law Center in 1993, Professor Nolon has fostered the development of sustainable communities and regions through the promotion of innovative land use strategies and dispute resolution techniques. Professor Nolon has developed a prolific body of work and Haub Law and the Land Use Law Center are proud to both recognize and honor him.”

This year’s conference featured numerous panels exploring the history of land use law, the evolution of land use law, and notably, land use law experts explored changes in land use and related regulations since the founding of the Land Use Law Center in 1993. The development of the varied and numerous land use laws along with examples of how current zoning and land use regulations are redefining the planning paradigms of the second half of the 20th century was explored as well. Each panel and session touched on the significance of Professor Nolon’s research, work, and contributions to the development of land use law and its future. The morning portion of the conference also featured sessions on ethics, along with breakout sessions focused on innovations in disaster mitigation and planning.

During the conference, Distinguished Professor John Nolon himself delivered an inspirational keynote address on Local Land Use Law Under Siege: Choosing to Succeed. Professor Nolon detailed the state of land use law at the time of the Land Use Law’s founding in 1993 and how it has evolved since then, to the present. During his keynote, Professor Nolon recognized the COVID-19 pandemic, the housing crisis, equity disparities, and climate disasters as contributors to the shaky state of local land use law, resolving and demonstrating how we can move beyond these crises to a more grounded state.

For the Groundbreaker’s Award Presentation, Touro University Provost (Graduate and Professional Divisions), Senior VP, Academic Affairs, and Professor of Law, Professor Patricia E. Salkin, who is also a land use law expert, academic, and long-time scholarly collaborator and friend of Professor Nolon’s detailed The Contributions of Professor John R. Nolon in a Nutshell. Together, Professor Nolon and Professor Salkin have authored several scholarly articles, casebooks, and nutshells together. Professor Salkin detailed Professor’s impressive career and contributions, as a Fulbright Scholar, his scholarly impact through his numerous books and articles, the thousands of students he has taught at not only Haub Law, but Yale and Columbia, and the broad impact his work has had on the courts, legislation, and beyond. Professor Salkin concluded her touching presentation by noting that “communities across the world are better off because of John Nolon.”

The conference continued with a final two afternoon sessions, including one on Meeting Local Housing Needs and the other a law update on Land Use and Sustainable Development: Cases and Materials, based on the textbook of which Professor Nolon is a co-author. The full-day conference wrapped up with a touching baseball themed reception in honor of John Nolon and his love of the Yankees.

John R. Nolon is Distinguished Professor of Law Emeritus at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University where he supervises student research and publications regarding land use, sustainable development, climate change, housing insecurity, racial inequity, and the coronavirus pandemic. He is Co-counsel to the Law School's Land Use Law Center, which he founded in 1993. He served as Adjunct Professor of land use law and policy at the Yale School of the Environment from 2001-2016. Before he joined the law school faculty, he founded and directed the Housing Action Counsel to foster the development of affordable housing. He is co-author of the nation's oldest casebook on land use law: Land Use and Sustainable Development Law: Cases and Materials, currently in its ninth edition. He published nearly 50 articles in the New York Law Journal and over 60 law review articles on various aspects of land use and sustainable development law. An anthology of seven of his articles was published in 2006 as a special issue of the Pace Environmental Law Review. He has produced fifteen books (and counting) on the topics of land use law, open space protection, local environmental law, managing climate change, and the mitigation of damage caused by natural disasters. His current research focusses on the management of climate change through a strategy known as Climate Resilient Development on which he is working with over 40 Haub land use students.

The Land Use Law Center

Established in 1993, the Land Use Law Center at Pace Law School is dedicated to fostering the development of sustainable communities through the promotion of innovative land use strategies and collaborative decision-making techniques, as well as leadership training, research, education, and technical assistance. Through its many programs, the Center offers municipalities, land use leaders, citizens, advocates, planners, attorneys, real estate industry leaders, and other land use professionals assistance that enables them to achieve their development and conservation goals.  Its activities provide opportunities for students of the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University to gain in-depth, practical experience that allows them to become practice-ready attorneys serving private, public, and non-governmental clients. The Land Use Law Center is the preeminent center of its kind offering extensive research and consulting services; conferences, seminars, and clinics; law school courses; practitioner and citizen-leader training programs; continuing legal education programs; multimedia resources; and frequent publications on sustainable land use and community development.

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