Enviros Lay Out Smart Growth Agenda For Cuomo Administration

The Buffalo area has sprawled out to three times its former size despite its population remaining static. Thats hurting both the environment and the state budget. Image: Joe the Planner.

The Buffalo area has sprawled out to three times its former size despite its population remaining static. That's hurting both the environment and the state budget. Image: Joe the Planner.

A coalition of environmental groups has lined up behind a smart growth agenda for New York State. Released by 12 organizations, the new memo lays out how Governor Cuomo and the state legislature can help New York use scarce public dollars more efficiently and sustainably when it comes to development.

The coalition’s smart growth recommendations are part of a larger set of memos outlining top environmental priorities for the state [PDF]. As the Tri-State Transportation Campaign (one of the signatories) notes, the smart growth section earned the most endorsements of them all. Moving away from sprawl would not only reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, notes the memo, but would also preserve open space, protect drinking water, and improve air quality. It could also save the state millions of dollars.

To help New York grow green, the enviros recommend that Cuomo work hard to enforce the smart growth law that passed last year, which requires the state’s infrastructure spending to go towards projects in line with certain smart growth principles. Cuomo should also appoint a reformer to head the state DOT and direct him or her to boost the agency’s much-lauded GreenLITES program, which links transportation, land use, and environmental sustainability.

The memo also warns Cuomo not to raid dedicated transit funds in his budget, to consider congestion pricing or other ways of funding transit, and to support complete streets legislation.

These recommendations earned the support of the Adirondack Council, Adirondack Mountain Club, American Lung Association in New York, Audubon New York, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Environmental Advocates of New York, Empire State Future, Natural Resources Defense Council, New York League of Conservation Voters, New York Public Interest Research Group, Sierra Club-Atlantic Chapter and Tri-State Transportation Campaign.