The Erosion of Home Rule Through the Emergence of State-Interests in Land Use Control
66 Pages Posted: 20 Feb 2009
Date Written: 1993
Twenty years ago, in Golden v. Planning Board of Ramapo, the New York Court of Appeals called for the state legislature to adopt a system of "State-wide or regional control of [land use] planning" to "insure that interests broader than that of the municipality underlie various land use policies." Returning to this subject after twenty years, the Court of Appeals, in Long Island Pine Barrens Society, Inc. v. Planning Board of Brookhaven, recently confronted the costs of fractured land use planning in a dramatic setting. The appellate division decision, which required that these projects, located in three separate towns, be subjected to a cumulative environmental impact analysis, alarmed home rule advocates who saw it as a threat to the authority of local governments to make land use decisions. The Court of Appeals overturned the decision of the appellate division, disarming environmentalists who had seen the appellate division decision as a mandate for cumulative environmental impact analysis of major projects affecting the critical natural resource areas in the state. New York's highest court referred this matter of "urgent public concern" to the legislature, as it had done twenty years earlier in Golden. How the regional impacts of local land use decisions are to be controlled is an enduring problem still seeking a solution in this state.
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