Westchester County is one of 13 counties that make up the Hudson River Valley Greenway. The Greenway was established by the State of New York by the Hudson River Valley Greenway Act of 1991. The Greenway is a voluntary regional cooperation among 242 communities within 13 counties bordering the Hudson River.
The Greenway was created to facilitate the development of a voluntary regional strategy for preserving scenic, natural, historic, cultural and recreational resources while encouraging compatible economic development and maintaining the tradition of home rule for land use decision-making. The 1991 act established the Greenway Council, a New York State agency to:
- Work with local government to enhance local land use planning
- Create a voluntary regional planning compact for the Hudson River Valley
- Provide community planning grants, compact grants and technical assistance to help communities develop a vision for their future
The Department of Planning maintains a “Local Planning Law Resource Guide” that provides examples of already in-place local land use ordinances that address a wide variety of subjects including sustainable development, environmental protection, historic preservation, tourism promotion, signage and parking and design review. The goals of the compilation are to allow local officials to see the vast palate of land use tools already in place in nearby communities and to make research and enactment easier.
The Hudson River Valley Greenway Act describes the “Greenway criteria” as “the basis for attaining the goal of a Hudson River Valley Greenway.” The Greenway Criteria involves:
- Regional planning
- Natural and cultural resource protection
- Economic development
- Public access
- Heritage and environmental education
The Greenway planning approach is to think regionally, plan locally. The Greenway Compact program takes community planning one step further by providing a process for voluntary regional cooperation to further the Greenway criteria of natural and cultural resource protection, regional planning, economic development, public access, and heritage and environmental education. The Greenway has designated the counties as the basic planning unit for the development of the Greenway Compact. Westchester County prepared a Compact Plan its municipalities can adopt to become a Compact Community. The Westchester County Hudson River Valley Compact Plan, The Greenprint for a Sustainable Future.