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Home > Leadership > Mayor > Archived Press Releases > 2016 Archives > Buffalo Green Code

Buffalo Green Code


Formal public comment period to begin upon acceptance by Buffalo Common Council

October 22, 2015 – Mayor Byron W. Brown and community leaders today gathered at Larkin Square to announce the filing of the Buffalo Green Code to the Common Council. The Green Code, a project launched in 2010 by Mayor Brown at the same location, is an historic update of the city’s 62-year-old zoning code and land use policies. It is the key component of Mayor Brown’s place-based economic development strategy aimed to further promote private and public sector investment, facilitate job creation, restore the environment and improve Buffalo’s quality of life for residents.

“The Buffalo Green Code is a significant accomplishment that will revolutionize the way Buffalo does business,” said Mayor Byron Brown.  “As we continue to build a city of opportunity in Buffalo, where over $5.5 billion in new economic development activity and job growth is underway, we are rewriting Buffalo’s development DNA and the impact of this new zoning ordinance will be seen in more vibrant and pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods, in buildings that fit our historic city patterns, and in a more common sense approach to the process for those who build and live within our city.  The Green Code is a complete overhaul of the existing zoning code, and from beginning to end, we listened to over 5,000 residents, neighborhood groups, businesses, and public and private institutions. This document represents the best ideas, creates more modern development standards, and preserves and builds upon Buffalo’s strengths as a great 21st century city that can compete head-to-head with any city in this country.”
Upon acceptance of the Green Code Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement at a Common Council meeting in November, the Council will commence a formal public review and comment period under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) that will consider the Green Code’s environmental impacts.

 “At the direction of Mayor Brown, the city’s Office of Strategic Planning implemented an unprecedented community outreach program to engage residents to provide their vision for Buffalo for the next 20 years,” said Brendan Mehaffy, executive director of the Office of Strategic Planning. “The submittal of the Green Code to the Common Council is the culmination of hundreds of community meetings and participation by more than 5,000 residents and stakeholders in the Green Code process. We now enter the final phase of this rigorous process during which we will work to ensure the public remains actively engaged so the final product best represents the vision of the community.”

"The Green Code will help move the needle in our economic development efforts, while embracing a smart growth vision for Buffalo,” said Howard Zemsky, Empire State Development Corp. “I applaud Mayor Byron Brown for taking on this zoning reboot, which will remove regulatory barriers to investment and entrepreneurship in our historic neighborhoods. Now, it's time to get the new code adopted!"

After the public comment period, the Office of Strategic Planning will work with the Common Council to review all comments, make necessary changes and respond to all comments prior to adoption of the final Green Code. One of the most significant accomplishments of the Green Code process to date has been the high level of public participation, which included input from elected leaders, residents, neighborhood groups, businesses, and public and private institutions.  Today, they applauded Mayor Brown’s historic Green Code initiative.

"The Buffalo Green Code is the product of over five years of effort, a true collaboration between citizens and City Hall. Mayor Brown, along with other visionary elected leaders in the Common Council, saw the importance of reforming a broken development system—over 1,800 pages of confusing, contradictory legalese that hadn’t been significantly updated since 1953,” said Chuck Banas, Chuck Banas Design. “A product of the 1950s, the old code was designed to suburbanize the city, and makes most of Buffalo’s compact, walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods illegal. For decades, it has been too difficult for the city to build the very kind of neighborhoods the people of Buffalo have consistently stated they want to enhance and build more of, the kind of neighborhoods that make Buffalo the great place it is. The Green Code is a giant leap forward for Buffalo, only the third city in the nation to undertake such comprehensive reform. The new code will honor Buffalo’s grand legacy while helping to make the city competitive in the 21st century."

"Elmwood Village Association has worked many years with the community and City to develop a progressive building code that allows the city to continue our wonderful growth and we are pleased to see the results coming to fruition,” said Carly Battin, executive director, Elmwood Village Association.

"The REDC commends the City of Buffalo and Mayor Brown for taking the bold smart growth step to adopt the green code which will accelerate adaptive reuse and reinvestment in our City,” said Jeff Belt, co-chair, Western New York Regional Economic Development Council.

“Roswell Park Institute would like to congratulate Mayor Brown and the Office of Strategic Planning, led by Brendan Mehaffy, on the development and introduction of the Green Code,” said Anthony Billoni, director of Tobacco-Free Western New York at Roswell Park Institute. “This forward-thinking, strategic plan serves as a road map for creating accessible, sustainable neighborhoods while promoting good health among all who call the City of Buffalo home.” 

"The local brewing and distilling industry applauds the Mayor for pursuing this forward-looking initiative,” said Ethan Cox, president, Community Beer Weeks. “Buffalo's Green Code will enable small, craft operations like ours the siting flexibility needed to operate and grow as vibrant members of the community we serve."

“McGuire Development is delighted to have had the opportunity to work with the Mayor’s office and the City of Buffalo on the development of the new Green Code,” said James Dentiger, president, McGuire Development Company. “As one of the leading developers in the region, we are excited to see how the new code will positively impact future development in Buffalo. We are also looking forward to seeing the public’s input put into action.”
“The Green Code sets a new development framework that finally matches a vision for a 21st century city where residents, employees and visitors can live, work and play,” said Dottie Gallagher-Cohen, President and CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership.  “We applaud Mayor Brown, the Office of Strategic Planning and the City for its exhaustive community engagement process that represents the needs of citizens, businesses and developers, alike.”

“The Hamlin Park Taxpayers Association is more than excited by today’s release of the long worked-on  Green Code,” said Stephanie Barber Geter, president of the Association. “Our group, along with many others, has worked to define and redefine this operational blueprint for the City of Buffalo.  We have worked as an organization over the years on many renditions of rules and guidelines to stabilize and protect our neighborhood.  It is absolutely refreshing to get this close to the finish-line in partnership with the City’s leadership and residents on one document for One Buffalo.  Hallelujah!”

"Partners for a Livable Western New York applauds Mayor Brown, Executive Director of Strategic Planning Brendan Mehaffy, the staff of the Office of Strategic Planning, and all of the citizens of this city who participated in the process, for the monumental effort in putting together the Green Code,” said George R. Grasser, executive director, Partners for a Livable Western New York. “It is no secret that there is a brighter future for cities and neighborhoods all over America that have adopted form-based zoning codes—codes that recognize how buildings relate to the street and to one another is more important than how fast vehicles move through or how much of the neighborhood is consumed with parking. We urge the Common Council, after due deliberation, to adopt the Green Code and send the message that Buffalo is a national leader in creating vibrant places and neighborhoods."

“Savarino Companies looks forward to working with the Green Code on continued positive development in the City,” said Kevin P. Hays, director of development, Savarino Companies. “The adoption of Green Code should streamline positive projects that embody the needs and wishes of the community.”

“After years of hard work, it’s exciting to see our new Green Code come to life,” said Laura Kelly, director, Old 1st Ward Community Association. “I say ‘our’ because so many of us ordinary folk have worked to make sure we reflect the future of our city with this project. It’s been challenging, lengthy, and full of learning experiences. Now, let’s start it up and see how it runs!”

“We applaud the City for their tremendous open and collaborative approaches to public outreach throughout the development of this unified development ordinance,” said Angela, Keppel, assistant director, Elmwood Village Association. “This combination of citizen involvement and professional expertise will guide the City of Buffalo towards a successful future.”

"This form-based code makes it certain that appropriately scaled and designed buildings will be built in context of existing storefronts on Amherst Street,” said Mark Kubiniec, Grant Amherst Business Association. “Our neighborhood business district will have the pedestrian streetscape maintained and enhanced. We look forward to businesses continuing to open here in Grant-Amherst with a new code that is clear and fair to everyone."

"Members of my firm, including myself, have been honored to participate in professional forums and focus groups throughout the development of the Green Code,” said Joy Kuebler, Kuebler Landscape Architects. “As landscape architects and urban designers, we are thrilled with the way the Green Code prioritizes the public realm as a critical component of the built urban environment. The Green Code provides a straightforward framework that ensures each new development will not only contribute to, but will noticeably enhance the quality of life between buildings in Buffalo, New York."

“As a resident of Buffalo, I have watched our city move through 30+ years of development,” said Eunice Lewin, president, Impacto Consulting Associates. “This new Green Code is the most comprehensive and positive reform we have seen in years. I am honored to have worked with the Mayor’s office and participate in the development of the new code. City Hall has taken our community’s input into account and I am looking forward to seeing the results as the Green Code is put into action.”

“A big congrats to you and the team for all you have done create this new excellent path for our great city,” said Ryan McPherson, chair, Western New York Environmental Alliance. “I have a full appreciation for how much work has gone into this (both in policy development and coalition building to get it enacted) and I commend all of you for continuing ‘stepping in the arena.’”

Peter Murad, chairman of the AIA Buffalo Urban Design Committee, said, “I would like to applaud the Mayor and the rigorous effort of the City’s Office of Strategic Planning on embracing and implementing the vision and mission of the American Institute of Architects Buffalo/Western New York to renew our City’s outdated zoning code and create a Form Based Code.”

Wilmer Olivencia, Jr., Board President of Agustin “Pucho” Olivencia Community Center, said, “The Olivencia Community  Center is excited to see the Progress in Buffalo New York! The Green Code is the perfect vehicle to drive us into the future and assist future generations to come.”

Bernice Radle of Buffalo’s Young Preservationists stated, “The Green Code will help attract investment, retain and grow a talented workforce, and, most importantly, make it possible again to build great neighborhoods, based on the timeless principles that have made Buffalo the great city that it is. The new code, with reforms like the elimination of off-street parking minimums and the adaptive reuse permit, will make it even easier to preserve what we love about Buffalo. We applaud Mayor Byron Brown for moving forward on this historic initiative, and urge the Common Council to speedily adopt the new code.”

"The new Green Code is going to make a great improvement to the Seneca Babcock area,” said Arthur Robinson, Seneca Babcock Community Block Club. “It will help make changes that will enhance the neighborhood. The new codes are for today, not yesterday."

“The Hispanic Heritage Council (HHC) of Western New York Inc. supports the adoption of the Buffalo Green Code,” said Casimiro Rodriguez Sr., President, HHC of WNY. “This initiative is a big step in supporting healthy neighborhoods with simplified sign regulation that reduces visual clutter. The consistent, clearly defined green code offers quality of life guidelines that encourage growing and vibrant neighborhoods including Buffalo’s lower west side.”

“The Green Code creates a clear and graphically elegant blueprint that outlines zoning obligations and possibilities,” said Barbara Rowe, president, Vision Niagara. “Vision Niagara is excited and optimistic about implementation of the Green Code – a code that looks behind while moving forward to solidify Buffalo’s future.”

“The Green Code is emblematic of Mayor Brown's strategic approach to the revitalization of the City of Buffalo,” said Jake Schneider, president, Schneider Development, LLC & Schneider Design Architects P.C. “Its adoption should go along way to streamline the development process, and protect and rebuild the City's urban fabric for generations to come.” 
“We’re pleased to see the Office of Strategic Planning, led by Mayor Byron Brown, taking a proactive approach that is responsive to citizen’s needs,” said Nick Sinatra, president and founder, Sinatra & Company. “People in Buffalo want to walk to a corner store, have easy access to transit alternatives, and know the city will hear proposals on commercial activity through a lens of possibility, and not the restrictions of a code developed in a different time. We applaud the extraordinary amount of hours that have been put into this project, and are looking forward to examining it closely.”

“The Buffalo Urban Development Corporation (BUDC) is very excited about the launch of the City of Buffalo’s new Green Code,” said David Stebbins, executive vice president, Buffalo Urban Development Corporation. “By making the development process clearer and more streamlined, the Code and accompanying Unified Development Ordinance will significantly support BUDC’s mission of attracting new businesses, jobs and investment capital into the City.  Furthermore, the Code enhances the urban qualities and amenities already present in the City – a significant attribute for attracting millennials and entrepreneurs that the knowledge-based economy will grow on.”

"We at the Wilson Street Urban Farm are excited to see Buffalo's Green Code move forward,” said  Mark and Janice Stevens, Wilson Street Urban Farm. Its recognition of urban market gardens as a viable use of vacant land validates the time and energy we have put into our farm, and gives us hope and promise that green spaces like ours and many others will become more commonplace in healthy and vibrant neighborhoods throughout the city."

"The Buffalo Green Code will protect the character of the historic neighborhood of North Buffalo and its core commercial district, Hertel Avenue,” said Jordan Then, The North Buffalo Organization. “It also lays the foundation for future growth by providing streamlined rules for new development that is in harmony with the surrounding neighborhood. The North Buffalo Organization is proud to support its implementation.”

Tim Tielman of the Campaign for Greater Buffalo, History & Culture, said, “Perhaps nothing has done more damage to the character of Buffalo, its small businesses, and its building stock than the intolerably dated 1953 zoning code. For generations, it has forced anyone who would build a new home or business, or to expand a business or institution, to knock down and pave over more of the city than anyone would need or want. This has steadily eroded the character and viability of our neighborhoods and business districts for longer than most of us have been alive. We see pictures of pre-1953 Buffalo and see a city of opportunity—people filling the sidewalks, streets lined with stores, houses, buildings. The purpose of the 1953 law seemed to be to get rid of all that, to simply pave the way for more paving. We feel the loss daily. It weighs on us because current zoning prohibits such a city from rising again. The Green Code rectifies that mistake. Now, we can have buildings and businesses again, instead of paving. Housing instead of paving. Public space instead of paving. People instead of paving. Green instead of gray.”

The Green Code will be available at, the Office of the City Clerk at Buffalo City Hall (#1302) and all Buffalo public library locations.