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ALBANY-Gov. Eliot Spitzer, following up on his budget message advocating “smart” land use policies, has established a “Smart Growth” Cabinet. The new multiagency working group will be charged with discouraging sprawl and promoting smart growth policies that cater to the state’s various regional needs.

A spokesman for Spitzer notes that the Smart Growth Cabinet will also look to promote green building policies, including having projects meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards as set forth by the US Green Building Council. “New York’s economy and environment are inextricably linked,” says Spitzer. “Quite simply, smart growth is smart business. As our economy and population grow, it is vital that we ensure the development of vibrant, livable communities.” He also notes, “Smart Growth is a bottom-up process that relies on the active participation of the communities involved. My Smart Growth Cabinet will listen to local leaders and residents to find out what will work best for their communities, and then assist them in making smart growth a reality.”

The cabinet, which will hold its first session in January, will be co-chaired by the governor’s deputy secretary for the environment Judith Enck and the deputy secretary for economic development and infrastructure Timothy Gilchrist. A location and time for the first meeting has not been set.

Others named to serve on the cabinet all have past smart growth policy experience: New York State Department of Transportation commissioner Astrid Glynn implemented Massachusetts’s smart growth program; Upstate economic development chair Dan Gundersen worked on smart growth initiatives in Pennsylvania and Maryland; deputy secretary of state for local governments Robert Elliott advanced smart growth initiatives in the Hudson Valley as mayor of Croton-on-Hudson and president of the New York Planning Federation; and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation commissioner Pete Grannis advocated smart growth and sustainable development as a state lawmaker for three decades.

The head of the Regional Plan Association applauded the formation of the Smart Growth Cabinet. “This Executive Order moves New York into the vanguard of state smart growth initiatives across the country,” says RPA president Robert Yaro. “The executive order will help New York achieve its economic development, affordable housing, land conservation and climate change goals.”

Jay DiLorenzo, president of the Preservation League of New York State, adds, “This initiative recognizes that state government must, and will, take the lead in capitalizing on our existing and historic buildings, neighborhoods and industrial cores as key components of efforts to foster economic growth, protect open space, and create healthy communities.”

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