New York Assembly and Senate Pass Community Risk & Resiliency Act, Requiring Creation of Model Local Zoning Laws Addressing Climate Change

On Thursday, June 19, 2014, the New York State Assembly and Senate passed the Community Risk and Resiliency Act (A.6558-B-/S.6617-B). The Act amends the Environmental Conservation Law, Agriculture and Markets Law, and Public Health Law. Among other things, the Act:

  • Requires the New York Department of State (DOS), in cooperation with the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), to prepare model local laws that consider future climate risks from sea level rise, storm surges, and flooding to help municipalities prepare for extreme weather events and other climate-change related risks.
  • Requires DEC, no later than January 1, 2016, to promulgate regulations establishing science-based state sea level rise projections.
  • Requires DEC to promulgate rules regulating existing and new petroleum bulk storage facilities that include consideration of climate-change related risks including flooding, storm surges, and rising sea levels.
  • Provides funding, subject to appropriation, to municipalities for local waterfront revitalization planning projects that mitigate future climate risks. Projects may include preparation of new local laws, plans, and studies, and construction projects.
  • Provides funding on a competitive basis, subject to appropriation, to municipalities or not-for-profits toward the cost of coastal rehabilitation projects that consider future climate risks.
  • Allows the Commissioner of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to enter into maintenance and operation agreements for open space land conservation projects in urban areas or metropolitan park projects with municipalities, not-for-profits, and unincorporated associations, if the project demonstrates consideration of climate-change risks.

The legislation implements some of the recommendations made by Governor Cuomo’s NYS 2100 Commission, established following Superstorm Sandy.

The legislation was approved in both houses by wide margins, and had support from a diverse group of stakeholders including: The Nature Conservancy in New York, The New York League of Conservation Voters, The Business Council of New York State, the General Contractors Association, The Reinsurance Association of America, The American Institute of Architects New York State, The Municipal Arts Society of New York, Audubon New York, Natural Resources Defense Council, Environmental Advocates of New York, and The Adirondack Council.

The New York League of Conservation Voters describes the legislation as “one of the environmental community’s top priorities for this session,” saying passage of the Act is “an important step in preparing the Empire State for a changing climate.”

The Nature Conservancy hails passage of the Act as marking “a transition in New York State from focusing predominantly on reactive disaster relief policies to work to proactively reduce risk and increase community resilience.”

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Click here to read the full text of the Community Risk and Resiliency Act. Click here for the bill history and sponsors.

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Touro Law Institute for Land Use & Sustainable Development Law and NYSERDA Begin Wind Energy Inventory and Model Zoning Ordinance Project

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Touro Law’s Institute of Land Use and Sustainable Development Law has signed a contract with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to complete a wind energy inventory and model ordinance project, Touro Law Dean Patricia Salkin announced in late May 20, 2014.
“This project will provide our students with the opportunity to engage in hands-on work that will have a real impact within the community and gives our Institute of Land Use and Sustainable Development Law a leadership role in wind development in the state. It’s a great partnership and we look forward to working with NYSERDA on this important project,” said Dean Salkin.
The purpose of this project is to educate local and county governments faced with wind turbine applications. By helping governments write consistent and standardized rules regarding the installation of small- and medium-sized wind turbines, the Institute can act as a trusted source of information. This will help to create appropriate zoning rules and approval standards dealing with such issues as setbacks, sound requirements, height restrictions, public safety and the preferences of the community.
NYSERDA has helped fund more than 200 small- and medium-size wind turbines around New York, most in upstate, rural areas. An additional 37 turbines, funded by LIPA, were installed on Long Island.  Turbines have been installed at farms, houses, businesses, municipalities, schools and other sites.
“Governor Cuomo has called for improving energy delivery in New York State by creating a more resilient and flexible power grid, giving ratepayers greater control over their energy use and making energy more affordable. By helping local lawmakers create a more consistent approach to wind power development, this joint project between NYSERDA and Touro Law will continue to promote the Governor’s vision while spurring the development of clean energy in communities across New York State,” said John B. Rhodes, President and CEO, NYSERDA.
Sarah Adams-Schoen, Director of the Institute for Land Use and Sustainable Development Law at Touro Law Center stated:
“Wind energy is becoming increasingly more viable as an alternative energy option on Long Island and throughout New York State and is an important component of the State’s renewable energy plan. I am glad that we are able to work with NYSERDA to help inform decision makers about this energy source.”
The project team includes Professor Adams-Schoen, law students and law graduates with an interest in land use and sustainable development law, who are working closely with NYSERDA Wind Innovation and Technology Project Manager Mark Mayhew. The team is researching existing New York alternative energy ordinances, identifying and reaching out to a wide range of stakeholder partners, identifying potential roadblocks, compiling an inventory of wind energy ordinances and articles of interest, and developing a project website that will become a resource for decision makers, developers, and residents. Once that work is complete, the team will be responsible for drafting a model ordinance for small- and medium-scale wind energy projects and educating planners and other stakeholders about the model ordinance.
“I am so glad to be a part of this important work. I am confident it will provide a valuable, practical resource in the field,” said Professor Adams-Schoen.
Information on NYSERDA wind turbine funding can be found here. Information on Touro Law Center’s Institute of Land Use and Sustainable Development Law can be found here.

Welcome to the Touro Law Land Use blog

Welcome to the Touro Law Land Use blog.

This blog is designed to promote economic and environmental sustainability by fostering greater understanding of local land use law, environmental law and public policy. It will highlight:

  • New court decisions
  • New local, state, and federal laws and policies
  • Local government actions that guide or impact land use and community development, and
  • Upcoming events of interest to land use practitioners, including developers’ attorneys, land use planners, local government attorneys, architects and engineers, the sustainable development community, and state and local regulators.

The blog’s primary author, Sarah Adams-Schoen is a Professor at Touro Law and Director of Touro Law’s Land Use & Sustainable Development Law (LUSD) Institute. Located on Long Island in Central Islip, New York, the LUSD Law Institute provides practical resources to help create a more economically and environmentally sustainable Long Island, including hosting dialogues like the one pictured below, creating annotated model laws and best practice commentaries, and providing training and education for lawyers and the larger community.Image

Land use and sustainable development law provides a key means for addressing some of Long Island’s most pressing social and environmental concerns, including climate change and natural-disaster resiliency; the creation of thriving urban centers and mainstreets; affordable housing; and the management of water resources, including storm water, waste water, and drinking water.