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


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.

Call to Action for Local Long Island Leaders: Effects of Climate Change on Long Island Accelerating

Stony Brook University professor and oceanographic scholar Lawrence Swanson’s January 26 Newsday op ed predicts a “troubling future for Long Island Sound.”  As Swanson suggests, for the Long Island Sound, climate change giveth and climate change taketh away — climate change, which created the Sound, is now deteriorating the Sound. And, the pace of that deterioration is rapidly accelerating.

The recently published book, “Long Island Sound, Prospects for the Urban Sea,” from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Long Island Sound Study (LISS)), summarizes decades of research on the Sound. Swanson, one of the book’s editors, concludes

“considering the projected path of climate change, the future for the Sound and its coastal communities is troubling.”

The study, which began in 1985, shows that sea level in the Sound is rising at a rate greater than the global average — by a half-foot per century more than it was one hundred years ago, and this rise in sea level is anticipated to increase considerably over the next 50 years.

The impact on New York and Connecticut shorelines will be substantial, including

  • more intermittent flooding and permanently flooding of low-lying areas,
  • severe erosion of Long Island’s glacially formed bluffs,
  • degradation of the North Shore harbors,
  • continued disappearance of tidal marshes,
  • shrinking fish-breeding and marine bird habitats, and
  • saltwater intrusion into Long Island’s groundwater, which supplies much of Long Island’s drinking water.

As Swanson laments

“Drowned Meadow may again be an appropriate name for Port Jefferson, as it was from the late 1600s to the early 1800s.”

Swanson, and the book, conclude with a call for more research and action by leaders in the Sound’s coastal communities to prepare for and adapt to accelerated change.

Sea level rise and other climate-related changes pose serious considerations for the core responsibilities of municipalities:  land-use planning and development, infrastructure management, public health, and emergency planning. Local governments in particular have both a great opportunity and responsibility to help their communities mitigate and adapt to LISS’s ominous predictions. In her article Sustainability at the Edge: The Opportunity and Responsibility of Local Governments to Most Effectively Plan for Natural Disaster MitigationTouro Law Center Dean Patricia Salkin cites a 2001 national survey, concluding

“along with building codes, land use planning was ranked most effective as a tool to achieve hazards vulnerability reduction.”

Swanson urges local governments to

  • create detailed maps and charts of coastal areas to improve predictions of flooding from storms,
  • move homes and other structures back from the shoreline to allow for sea level rise and more extensive storm surges,
  • where possible, allow for salt marsh migration,
  • and develop and invest in new technologies to reduce stormwater runoff and sewage effluent from reaching the Sound.
© Sarah Adams-Schoen

© Sarah Adams-Schoen

The book’s editors include Swanson, Mark A. Tedesco, director of the EPA Long Island Sound Office in Stamford, Charles Yarish, a professor at the University of Connecticut, Paul E. Stacey, a researcher at the Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, and Corey Garza, a professor at California State University. The book is available in hardcover or e-book (either in its entirety or by individual chapter) here.

LISS is a cooperative effort between the EPA and the states of Connecticut and New York to restore and protect the Sound. To learn more about LISS, click here.

For more information on rising sea levels, see this article on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) newly released Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) which projects greater increases than earlier forecast, but recognizes continuing uncertainties.