Community and Regional Planning Services
The LA Group provides a broad range of community and regional planning services to municipal, county and state governmental agencies throughout New York State. The firm is deeply experienced and passionate about working with communities in the Hudson River corridor, the Adirondack Park and Capital Region, helping communities realize their goals and create places of distinction. This is done through a variety of land planning and development initiatives, open space and recreation planning, economic development strategies, municipal park and streetscape design, and grant writing services.
Community and Regional Planning Capabilities
From smart growth and sustainability, economic development and Heritage Tourism to building community resilience, there are many reasons to consider a comprehensive planning effort. The LA Group partners with communities throughout New York State, bringing a multi-disciplinary team of planning, design and engineering experts with an environmental and sustainability focus.
There are several challenges facing upstate New York communities today, such as retaining and growing population, providing affordable and efficient services, containing real property taxes, and keeping the availability of community facilities on pace with resident expectations. The LA Group has provided strategic planning services that seek to maximize the use of available regional, state, and federal funding sources to address these challenges and provide a prosperous future.
The firm has assisted communities through execution of customized community outreach programs that accurately frame and define resident needs and serve as the basis for prioritized planning initiatives and capital projects. The LA Group provides grant writing services to assist communities in developing a strategic approach to project implementation and funding, including preparing grant applications to identify regional, state and federal programs that maximize funding assistance while limiting the local/municipal matching contribution.
- Municipal and Public Agency Consulting Services
- State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) reviews
- Discretionary reviews (subdivision, site plan, special use permits, variances)
- Comprehensive Planning
- Existing conditions, visioning, goal setting, and priority initiatives
- Community outreach (workshops, surveys, focus groups)
- Zoning Code Development and Revision
- Definitions, permissible uses, and dimensional standards
- District boundaries, local trends, and constraints
- Overlay zones and planned development districts
- Zoning Administration
- Administration of zoning regulations, 239m reviews, public hearing notices, SEQRA, and determinations
- Assistance to planning boards and zoning boards of appeals
- Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP) Development and Implementation
- Collaboration with the NYSDOS – Division of Coastal Resources
- Coordination with local laws, projects, and partnerships
- Analysis of waterfront opportunities and constraints
- Fiscal and Economic Analysis
- Governmental revenue and expenditures at local and regional levels
- Impacts to public service providers and school districts
- Growth/contraction trend analysis
- Community Development Strategies
- Analysis of project feasibility
- Surveys and community workshops
- Assess concerns and establish goals
- Grant Writing Services
- Strategize project prioritization and funding
- Prepare grant applications (regional, state, and federal programs)
- Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Mapping Services
- Generate categorical layers and composite maps to convey existing conditions
- Analytical mapping to define opportunities and convey planned concepts
“As a Senator who represents a majority of the Adirondack Park, I have found The LA Group’s work to be extremely valuable to ensure the future of the people who reside and make a living within the confines of the Park.”Elizabeth “Betty” Little, New York State Senator
Reducing Risks and Protecting Your Interests
In historic neighborhoods, growing cities or on corporate campuses, planning, development, and construction projects carry inherent financial risks and require specialized expertise well beyond the landscape. Serving as a professional advisor, The LA Group has assisted both municipal review boards (planning boards, zoning boards of appeals, design review boards, etc.) in the proper and effective administration of the community review process and zoning law. The LA Group can bring planned projects to fruition while ensuring that local laws and review standards are followed and upheld.
The LA Group can minimize legal challenges through the proper application of required project review elements and execution of the environmental assessment process as defined in SEQRA. The LA Group’s extensive experience with planning, zoning administration, and SEQRA provides quality project development, project review, and ultimately completed projects that fulfill planned goals and surpass expectations.
A Strategic Partner for Project Success.
Community and Regional Planning Team
The LA Group’s community and regional planning team consists of planners, environmental scientists, GIS and sustainability specialists, landscape architects and site/civil engineers. Planning staff are AICP certified by the American Planning Association with specialized experience in zoning code development and revision, zoning administration, economic development, community-wide planning, recreation planning, and waterfront development.
With decades of experience working in Upstate NY and the Adirondack Park, The LA Group staff has developed a sincere passion for helping small or disenfranchised communities plan for a more sustainable and resilient future through the development of sound economic development strategies and smart growth planning and design initiatives that are implementable.
Frequently Asked Questions
A comprehensive plan is a broad-based, multi-subject matter document that guides the development of the community over the next five to seven years. Although not mandated, New York municipal law provides guidance as to the composition of a plan.
Goals are developed, objectives are formulated, and initiatives are implemented for the following: community and economic development, recreation and the arts, housing, natural resources and the environment, agriculture, commercial and industrial facilities, infrastructure, historic and cultural facilities, transportation and institutional/governmental/educational facilities and health care and emergency services.
The primary benefit of developing a comprehensive plan is the dialogue that occurs among residents and local officials. During the plan development process, the public is engaged in an open discussion of their community including assessment of current issues and needs and exploration of effective initiatives to address the issues and fulfill identified needs.
Once the plan is developed and adopted, the document then serves as a credible resource to access state and federal grant programs and aid in securing funds that offset project cost and the burden on local resources. Lastly, the plan serves to aid local review boards as they perform their duties in evaluating development and land use proposals.
The primary means by which local communities manage the direction of development and the retention of valuable resources (open space, natural landscape and/or historic features) is through the zoning chapter of their municipal code. To effectively manage land use in a community, the municipal zoning law need not be onerous and overreaching.
An effective zoning law is one that closely reflects the goals of the residents, is concisely written and includes an efficient review and enforcement process. There are multiple options that may be applied in the development of district schedules, supplementary regulations, administrative procedures, and mapping of district boundaries. A skilled and experienced planner can guide the community through these options and draft a customized law that addresses residents needs while allowing for reasonable growth and sustainable prosperity.
In general, the optimal period for updating a comprehensive plan is five to seven years. The ever-changing nature of community development and the quick-paced evolution of technological change requires constant assessment of resident needs and adaptations of local land use codes (e.g., zoning, subdivision regulations, stormwater management planning and pollution prevention, wetland protection).
As an example, video rental businesses came and went in less than a generation. Local land use codes were just beginning to reflect their existence before technology changed and video rental became extinct. The same dynamic is occurring with land use planning and regulation of commercial-scale solar system energy systems, 5G cellular technology and electric vehicle charging stations.
With this quickening rate of change among uses of land, community redevelopment planning and land use management techniques need to keep pace so that land use outcomes match resident expectations.
Recent Community and Regional Planning News
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The LA Group provides community and regional planning services, as well as several other specialized services, including landscape architecture, site/civil engineering, environmental planning and permitting, and more.