New York adopts Smart Growth Public Infrastructure Act
by Melanie Thwing
In September, the state of New York enacted the Smart Growth Public Infrastructure Act. This new act is intended to “maximize the social, economic and environmental benefits from public infrastructure development through minimizing unnecessary costs of sprawl development including environmental degradation, disinvestment in urban and suburban communities and loss of open space.” It requires thirteen named state agencies and “all other New York authorities” to prepare Smart Growth Impact Statements before authorizing, approving, undertaking, supporting or financing any public infrastructure project. This not only applies to state-owned or state constructed facilities, but also to “publicly supported infrastructure,” such as roads, water supplies, sewers, water treatment plants, public housing, and public schools when the construction, expansion or redevelopment of the infrastructure requires authorization or subsidies from the state agency.
The impact statement must show how the project is consistent with ten Smart Growth Criteria set forth in the bill, which are:
– To advance projects for the use, maintenance or improvement of existing infrastructure;
– To advance projects located in municipal centers;
– To advance projects in developed areas or areas designated for concentrated infill development in a municipally approved comprehensive land use plan, local waterfront revitalization plan and/or brownfield opportunity area plan;
– To protect, preserve and enhance the state’s resources, including agricultural land, forests, surface and groundwater, air quality, recreation and open space, scenic areas, and significant historic and archeological resources;
– To foster mixed land uses and compact development, downtown revitalization, brownfield redevelopment, the enhancement of beauty in public spaces, the diversity and affordability of housing in proximity to places of employment, recreation and commercial development and the integration of all income and age groups;
– To provide mobility through transportation choices including improved public transportation and reduced automobile dependency;
– To coordinate between state and local government and intermunicipal and regional planning;
– To participate in community based planning and collaboration;
– To ensure predictability in building and land use codes; and
– To promote sustainability by strengthening existing and creating new communities which reduce greenhouse gas emissions and do not compromise the needs of future generations, by among other means encouraging broad based public involvement in developing and implementing a community plan and ensuring the governance structure is adequate to sustain its implementation.
Each state agency is required to form a “Smart Growth Advisory Committee” made up of agency staff. The committee is responsible for preparing the impact statements and also advising the agency on how to further its goals for smart growth.
For a link to this act click here.