Zoning and land use laws can be tailored for many goals, including making cities more pleasant for residents and more suitable for businesses. Often, they are intended to reduce pollution or achieve other environmental objectives. Usually, these objectives are relatively modest, such as when zoning laws keep heavy industry away from residential areas, agricultural areas or sources of drinking water.
Recently, some local governments have used zoning laws in an effort to reach environmental goals on a bigger scale. New zoning regulations in New York City are intended to tackle the huge problem of global warming.
“City of Yes” initiative
New York’s city council recently approved a package of changes to the city’s zoning code that are designed to help the city greatly reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The package, known as the “City of Yes” initiative, allows for new, environmentally-minded, uses for existing spaces.
One of these changes will allow for the construction of solar power-generating canopies over 8.500 acres of parking lots. Proponents say this will mean generating enough energy to power 130,000 homes or more.
The “City of Yes” changes also include allowances for the construction of solar panels on rooftops and other areas, as well as charging stations for electric vehicles.
News reports about the “City of Yes” initiative did not identify when such construction might begin, nor who would pay for it.
Proponents say they want the initiative to serve as a model for other cities.
Opportunities and risks
New initiatives like this one have the potential to do a lot of good for the public, and they can also create great opportunities for businesses. However, they can also pose risks and lead to unintended consequences.
Businesses can rely on professional advice about zoning issues and how they relate to the environment.