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Land Use and Zoning Law: A Citizen's Guide

Arthur Giacalone — Dec 20, 2018

This handbook was written by Arthur Giacalone, an attorney with many years’ experience in land use law. It is a basic overview to help the public understand the zoning and land use development process. It should not be considered legal advice and is not meant as a substitute for a thorough review of relevant New laws, or consultation with a lawyer. Zoning and land use decisions have major impacts on the wellbeing of a community. The purpose of this handbook is to help individuals and …

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The Buffalo, New York Outer Harbor as a Cultural Landscape

Camden Miller, Annie Shentag, Kerry Traynor — Oct 31, 2018

"This cultural landscape report primarily focuses on the Buffalo Outer Harbor (Outer Harbor) located in Buffalo, New York, with an understanding that it is part of a much larger context including the Buffalo Inner Harbor (Inner Harbor) and Buffalo Middle Harbor (Middle Harbor) in order to provide context and a holistic understanding of the surrounding landscape. This cultural landscape report investigates and documents the landscape history and the existing conditions within the study area of …

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Urban Expressway Removal in Buffalo: The Historical Context

Daniel Cadzow — Mar 30, 2018

This policy brief was drafted by Daniel Cadzow, Policy Fellow at PPG and an advocate for environmental justice and equitable traffic infrastructure.  

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PUSH Buffalo's Green Development Zone: a Model for New Economy Community Development

Sam Magavern, Skye Hart — Jun 29, 2017

2008 marks the year that PUSH Buffalo founded the Green Development Zone in Buffalo’s West Side. Encompassing 25 square blocks, the Green Development Zone (GDZ) is an area that PUSH is making more environmentally and economically sustainable. PUSH stands for People United for Sustainable Housing, and it is a non-profit corporation that uses a unique combination of community organizing, policy advocacy, and neighborhood redevelopment.  

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A Plan that Bears Fruit: A Community Land Trust and Other Tools For Neighborhood Revitalization in the Fruit Belt

Jun 22, 2016

On December 1, 2015, the City of Buffalo’s Common Council passed a resolution placing a moratorium on the sale of city-owned lots in the Fruit Belt neighborhood.  The Fruit Belt includes the area enclosed by Cherry Street, Jefferson Avenue, Best Street, Main Street, Goodell Street, and Michigan Avenue – a neighborhood where the City of Buffalo owns over 200 vacant lots.  The City promised not to sell lots to developers until “a duly approved strategic plan” had …

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A Planning Board for Erie County

Apr 13, 2016

The Partnership for the Public Good (PPG) unites 212organizations working to build a better western New York.  Each year, the partners vote on their top policy priorities for the coming year; these priorities become the PPG Community Agenda.  The very first Community Agenda, formed in 2008, included a provision calling for a planning board in Erie County.  Since that time, the reasons for a planning board have only become more compelling.  There is a reason that every other …

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Buffalo's Proposed Unified Development Ordinance

Jessie Fisher — Mar 1, 2016

For the first time since 1954, the City of Buffalo New York is undertaking a comprehensive review and complete overhaul of its zoning code, the result of which has been popularly dubbed “the Green Code.”  The City, particularly Mayor Brown and the leadership and staff at the Office of Strategic Planning are to be commended for undertaking this important task.  While there are many positive aspects of this effort, some changes are needed in order to ensure that the final …

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Buffalo's Sprawl: Fiscal, Environmental, and Social Costs

Feb 16, 2012

Rolf Pendall has aptly summarized Buffalo’s development pattern as “sprawl without growth.”  Between 1950 and 2000, the region gained only 80,881 people, but the urbanized area nearly tripled, going from 123 square miles to 367 square miles.  The city of Buffalo’s population declined from 580,132 to 292,648 (a loss of 287,484), while the rest of Erie County grew from 319,106 to 657,617 (a gain of 338,511).  From 2000 to 2010, the trend continued, with the …

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Vacant Lot Greening Options in Buffalo

Robert Grimaldi — Oct 30, 2011

The main goals of PUSH (People United for Sustainable Housing) and its development subsidiary, the Buffalo Neighborhood Stabilization Corporation (BNSC), are to mobilize residents to create strong neighborhoods with quality affordable housing, to expand local hiring opportunities, and to advance economic justice in Buffalo.

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How City Hall Can Foster the Urban Farming Revolution in Buffalo

Michael Raleigh — Mar 17, 2011

The City of Buffalo has made strides in recent years to make urban farming an accepted use of vacant land.  However, the fact remains that the City is unwilling to “take risks” in this area.  There are a number of policies that restrict the freedom of farmers to get access to land, gain long term land security, grow a diversity of foods (including animals), and sell the food.  In order for farming to really take hold and have a transformative effect on the local food …

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Urban Farming in Buffalo: Economic Development and Climate Change Strategy

Michael Raleigh — Oct 27, 2010

Our food system is heavily industrialized, which means it consumes an incredible amount of resources, including energy derived from burning fossil fuels.  By one estimate, the food system takes 10 calories of energy to produce one calorie of food.  The phrase “eating oil” refers to our use of oil to power the machines that plant seeds, spray pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides, spread fertilizer, operate irrigation pumps, till the soil, harvest and process crops, and …

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County Planning Boards

Nathan Kerstein — May 2, 2009

The main focus of the board should be to implement the Framework for Regional Growth and to combat sprawl in the region.  From 1980 to 2000 the developed area grew thirty-eight percent, even though population fell nearly six percent.  It has been estimated by the county that better planned development could save $800 million.

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Brownfield Cleanup and Development in Buffalo, New York

Caitlin Connelly — Nov 8, 2008

Brownfields are abandoned or underutilized properties for which expansion, development, or reuse may be complicated by environmental contamination, such as the presence of a hazardous substance or pollutant.  Examples of brownfields include the former sites of factories, mills, rail yards, gas stations, and dry cleaners.

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Regionalism Revisited: The Effort to Streamline Governance in Buffalo and Erie County, New York

Craig Bucki — Jan 16, 2008

During the first half of the twentieth century, burgeoning grain transshipment trade and heavy manufacturing spurred the bustling economy of Buffalo, the eastern-most port on the shores of Lake Erie and the second-largest city in the State of New York.  With the jobs that these industries provided came residents to occupy them.  In the 1900 census, Buffalo ranked as the eighth-largest city in the United States, with a population of over 350,000.  By 1950, Buffalo could claim over …

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Beyond Food Deserts: Measuring and Mapping Racial Disparities in Neighborhood Food Environments

Samina Raja, Pavan Yadav, Changxing Ma — Jan 1, 2008

Given the emerging focus on improving food environments and food systems through planning, this article investigates racial disparities in neighborhood food environments.  An empirical case of Erie County, New York tests the hypothesis that people belonging to different racial groups have access to different neighborhood food destinations.  Using multiple methods—Gini coefficients and Poisson regression—we show that contrary to studies elsewhere in the country there are no …

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A Proposal to Create the Buffalo Green Land Bank

Robert Quinn — Dec 4, 2007

For many years the city of Buffalo has had far more housing units than households.  Buffalo has experienced a precipitous population decline over the past fifty years.  From 580,000 in 1950, Buffalo residents declined to 462,000 by 1970.  In 2006, the population had dropped to 276,059.  This flight from the city, a product of both suburbanization and the decline of the Rust Belt, has resulted in numerous vacant properties.  With a weak housing market and continued …

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At Taxpayers' Expense

The League of Women Voters of Buffalo/Niagara — Oct 1, 2006

Planning and managing growth are fundamental responsibilities of any local government.  It should be recognized that sprawling development can actually be more costly in the long run, not only to a particular municipality but also to those around it that may be affected by its decisions.  Inter-municipal collaboration could curb costs and prevent actions that are detrimental to neighboring communities.  These are complex issues, and sprawl is just one of several components …

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Framework for Regional Growth

Oct 1, 2006

The absence of a region-wide vision for conservation, development, and public investment has become an increasingly central concern of the Region’s leaders.  For the past two to three decades—the last regional plan was completed in 1974—local and regional actions have occurred without the benefit of reference to a larger policy or planning framework.  Important decisions regarding the location and pace of development, investments in economic development, the …

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Sprawl Without Growth: The Upstate Paradox

Rolf Pendall — Oct 1, 2003

People throughout the world place a strong value on the landscape, natural environment, and compact settlement pattern of Upstate New York.  The Adirondack and Catskill mountains, the Finger Lakes, the Lake Ontario shoreline, Lake Champlain, and the Thousand Islands attract hundreds of thousands of visitors annually.  At the scale of the entire landscape, farms and forests define the edges of Upstate’s cities, villages, and hamlets and form a distinctive matrix of land …

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