Programs such as the Clean Water Act and efforts by Scenic Hudson and other environmental organizations have vastly improved the water quality in the Hudson River over the past 30 to 40 years. Riverfronts no longer support industrial activity as they did in the 19th and early 20th centuries. As a result, communities are once again embracing the Hudson as the face they present to the world.
However, redevelopment of these abandoned industrial sites, sometimes tainted with contamination, must ensure that the public gains access to the shoreline, views of the Hudson remain open, resources are protected and buildings are designed to be compatible with the character and scale of the community. Likewise, careful land-use planning is needed to turn the tide of urban sprawl in the Hudson Valley. The lack of planning has resulted in the fragmenting of communities with auto-oriented development that has consumed open space at a rate four times population growth. Prime, productive farmland has been lost at an alarming rate. Historic sites have been encroached upon by suburbia and big box retail, while megastores and strip development have drained economic vitality from our downtowns. Scenic Hudson works with concerned citizens, local officials, developers, community groups and policy makers to encourage "Smart Growth" that protects resources and focuses mixed-use and appropriately-scaled development in and adjacent to existing communities, thus reducing auto dependence and creating a vibrant, walkable environment that will enhance community character, preserve the Hudson Valley's unique sense of place and help protect farmland and open space.
Scenic Hudson is a member of the Hudson Valley Smart Growth Alliance (HVSGA), a coalition working to build consensus on smart growth principles and promote local and regional solutions to sprawl.
The HVSGA is a regional partnership of diverse interests including environmental, land conservation and economic development organizations; builders; realtors; tourism officials and planning agencies. The HVSGA advocates for and facilitates the implementation of Smart Growth tools and techniques by decision-makers at the local and regional level that will promote economically feasible and environmentally sound development practices based on the alliance's guiding Smart Growth Principles. One of the HVSGA's first actions was to adopt the guiding set of Smart Growth Principles that encourage a comprehensive and balanced approach to future land conservation and development. All groups listed as Endorsing Organizations have agreed to promote these seven principles:
Thinking Regionally, Acting Locally
Support local, community-based planning and land-use decisions while strengthening home rule with training programs for board members and voluntary regional coordination through the Hudson River Valley Greenway Compact.
Protecting Our Landscape Legacy
Adopt protection measures for farmlands, important open space, parks and critical natural and wildlife areas that create connected greenspace systems across municipal boundaries and through the region.
Building Close-Knit, Interconnected Communities
Encourage compact, mixed-use development patterns, in and around existing centers and in locally identified priority growth areas, linked to more cost-efficient infrastructure and public services.
Respecting the Past, Building for the Future
Ensure that new development is compatible with existing community character, preserves and rehabilitates historic buildings and districts, and creates enduring value through high-quality design.
Making Connections More Convenient
Provide a wider variety of transportation choices, including walkable neighborhoods that can support public transit, to reduce auto dependency, traffic congestion and pollution, and allow better access to jobs and services.
Giving Growth Back its Good Name
Promote economic development, including agriculture and tourism, employment opportunities and a full range of housing options that are consistent with smart growth principles and use green building techniques whenever possible.
Streamlining Without Sacrificing Quality
Make the development process more predictable, fair and cost-effective through updated community plans, codes and design guidelines; coordinated review processes; interagency cooperation and incentives for smart growth practices.