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Modernization of New York's Land Use Laws Continues to Meet Growing Challenges of Sustainability

12 Pages Posted: 23 Sep 2009 Last revised: 28 Jan 2014

Patricia Salkin

Touro College - Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center

Jessica A. Bacher

Land Use Law Center


There has never been a more challenging time to practice land use planning and zoning law in New York. With goals of sustainability at the forefront of the land use regulatory agenda, this brief account of recent developments in land use law highlights some discernable trends, namely: the modernization and increased flexibility of New York State planning and zoning enabling acts, the inspired local initiatives and lethargic State response to affordable housing issues, and the increasing impact of alternative energy systems on local regulatory schemes.

Part I of this article explores the impacts on community development caused by the many modifications to New York State’s planning and zoning enabling acts over the last two decades. Particularly, the article identifies the delegation of extensive discretionary authority to local governments as New York’s signature approach to land use control.

Part II discusses “affordable housing” as a key attractant for judicial action and local government response. With the exception of the Long Island Workforce Housing Act in 2008, the State has been slow to act on judicial calls to action, forcing local governments to develop unique solutions in order to provide affordable housing.

Finally, Part III notes the challenges being faced by lawyers and planners in light of growing preference for alternative energy systems, with specific focus on reactions to Wind Energy and Solar Energy installations.

Keywords: Property, land use planning, zoning, regulation, sustainability, community, development, affordable housing, alternative energy, wind energy, solar energy

Suggested Citation

Salkin, Patricia and Bacher, Jessica A., Modernization of New York's Land Use Laws Continues to Meet Growing Challenges of Sustainability. Pace Law Review, Vol. 29, No. 563, 2009; Touro Law Center Legal Studies Research Paper Series; Albany Law School Research Paper No. 13. Available at SSRN:

Patricia E. Salkin (Contact Author)

Touro College - Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center ( email )

225 Eastview Drive
Central Islip, NY 11722
United States

Jessica A. Bacher

Land Use Law Center ( email )

78 North Broadway
White Plains, NY 10603
United States

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