Green Infrastructure Code Audit

Survey Coming Soon! In the meantime…

Survey Objectives

This Green Infrastructure survey was developed to provide each community with assistance in developing green infrastructure guidance for public and private application of green infrastructure. The survey will help communities identify gaps and barriers in local land use code, policy, or stormwater regulations that inhibit or discourage the adoption of GI practices, constructed or policy. The results of the survey will highlight areas of local code that a community may wish to strengthen. The survey results can then be used to identify model code and/or guidelines that the community can adopt to encourage the use of Green Infrastructure practices. Please review the steps below before proceeding to undertake the survey.

Preparing to take the Survey

Two tasks need to be performed before you begin the scorecard. First, you must identify all the development rules that apply in your municipality. Second, you must identify the local, state, and federal authorities that administer or enforce the development rules within your municipality.

Both tasks require a large investment of time. The development process is usually shaped by a complex labyrinth of regulations, criteria, and authorities. A team approach may be helpful. You may wish to enlist the help of a local plan reviewer, land planner, land use attorney, or civil engineer. Having input for each person in your community that has a role in managing stormwater is the best way to make sure that the survey question responses are accurate. Their real-world experience with the development process is often very useful in completing the worksheet.

Identifying development rules and guidelines that impact land use and stormwater management

 Gather the key documents that contain the development rules in your municipality. A list of potential documents to look for is provided with the survey as a checkbox. Keep in mind that the information you may want on a development rule is not always found in code or regulation, and may be hidden in supporting design manuals, review checklists, guidance documents or construction specifications. In most cases, this will require an extensive search. Few communities include all developed guidelines and rules in a single document.  For example, stormwater controls, zoning, comprehensive plan, and Local Waterfront Revitalization Plans may all be in separate locations.

Identify key Personnel

 Once the development rules are located, it is relatively easy to determine which local agencies or authorities who are actually responsible for administering and enforcing the rules. Completing this step will provide you with a better understanding of the intricacies of the development review process, and for contacts to speak with to obtain answers to the survey questions or obtain more information. Ideally, there should be ONE primary survey respondent, obtaining information from several sources and filling out the survey instrument. You may wish to identify and assign a different representative for each section of the survey. For example, in the “Design Elements for Stormwater Management” section, an engineer responsible for site plan review would ideally be suited to fill out this section. For the section “Preservation of Natural Features and Conservation Design” a Planner or the chair of the local conservation advisory community (should your community have one) would be best suited to fill out this section)

Collecting and referencing your source material

Determining a response to some of the Scorecard questions can sometimes result in an objective answer. This is OK. When you answer “Yes” to a survey question, the survey will automatically prompt you to provide a reference to the relevant pages of their local law/code/etc. with relevant source material. This will assist you and/or a review team to check your answer or circle back with any questions about the source language.  This will also save substantial time and frustration later on from needing to locate source material to clarify answers later on during the review phase of the project.

The results of the survey are not intended to be a report card. Do not feel guilty for answering “no” on a question. This is not a test. The scorecard is a self‐assessment tool, so don’t get worried about achieving a perfect score. This is a diagnostic tool, thus, the more honest and thorough the responses the more useful the instrument will be in the end. Once you have completed the Scorecard, go back and review your responses. Determine if there are specific areas that need improvement (e.g., development rules that govern parking standards).  Review is key to understanding where there are gaps in your current laws and developing a strategy for addressing which laws and procedures to change. The intent of this assessment and the stormwater regulations in general is to protect water quality within your municipality.

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Survey Background

This survey is modeled on the scorecard distributed by the Stormwater Coalition of Albany County and an updated version developed for use by the Albany Pool Communities. The questions in this survey were generated in large part from the following sources:

  • Center for Watershed Protection Code and Ordinance Worksheet
  • The Code and Ordinance Worksheet for Development Rules in New York State (a document developed by NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Hudson River Estuary Program
  • NYS Water Resources Institute in Cooperation with the Center for Watershed Protection)
  • The U.S. EPA Managing Wet Weather with Green Infrastructure Municipal Handbook‐Water Quality Scorecard.
  • The Capital District Regional Planning Commission
  • The Capital District Transportation Committee

The survey instrument and model local code program is supported by a grant from the New York State Department of State’s Local Government Efficiency Program.