Student & Educator Programs: Rockland Planning Land Use with Students (PLUS)

This school-based program engages students in addressing sustainable planning in their immediate community. Rockland County is composed of 5 towns and 19 villages, each with a unique identity and set of factors to consider for future development projects. Each community has pockets of commercial and residential development that are thriving, and others that are hoping for new energy and revitalization, but many were not developed with sustainability in mind. In Rockland P.L.U.S. the students consider a local site to revitalize. Students will consider how creative planning can make the community more sustainable and climate smart through mitigations like increased efficiency in transportation, water and energy, and adaptations like raising buidings along areas prone to flooding. Students will then use an online Google Earth platform to build their projects and site tours. 

Planning Activity

Class projects are designed for students to really S.E.E.E. their community. Students consider four complementary processes that make a community successful and sustainable: a balance of social, economic, equitable and environmental factors or what we refer to as their community. ~300 students from ten community high schools (Albertus Magnus, Clarkstown North, North Rockland, Nyack, Pearl River, P-Tech, Ramapo, Suffern and Spring Valley, Tappan Zee) participate in a series of 3 classroom visits as they develop projects focused on their local Rockland community. The program concludes with a student Symposium where about half the students participate, working with local professional mentors and facilitators. 

Symposium Event. The highlight of the program is a Symposium Event with students teams presenting their own project plans to mentors from the community. The group then transfers their sustainable planning skills to a new site in Rockland County where they work with new colleagues to put together a planning framework.

Schimpf Farm Project: Click the image or here to preview this project concept developed by one of our student teams, Albertus Magnus High School. Each school had a different project property to consider and different teams developed a range of project ideas for their sites. Consider as you tour of the site using Google Earth Projects what sustainable planning tools the students integrated into their plan.

4 planning spheres
Sustainable Planning
Sustainable Planning

In 1987 the World Commission on Environment & Development  defines this as "Development that meets the need of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." 

Environmental Planning
Environmental Planning

Historically, local environments have been significantly altered by human presence.  Planning decisions are usually intended to maximize short-term returns and long-term consequences are only taken into account secondarily.  

Palisades Mall
Planning Tools

Planning is a long process.  It doesn’t happen quickly, and it doesn’t happen without discussion, vision and a source of funding.  There are many things to consider in planning including these items.

Storm King
What is Seqra?

The State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) is an important part of the planning and protection provided to all residents of New York State. SEQRA provides protect to the health of the environment!

Haverstraw Parade
Know the Community

To fully understand the community we live in today we need to look back to how the community formed and what it has been through. Consider both why and how it developed into where it is today, and how we might move from today into the future.

Affordable Housing
Affordable Housing

Lower Hudson Valley housing costs are among the highest in the country affecting many demographics: seniors; entry level professionals; young families and unskilled workers. Affordability means that a household pay no more than 30 percent of its yearly gross income on housing. 

Brownfield Site Emeline Park
Brownfield Redevelopment

A Brownfield is an abandoned, unused, or underused industrial or commercial site that has not been redeveloped because of concerns of contamination from hazardous substances. Brownfield sites exist all along the Hudson River due to our active industrial past. 

Hudson River water quality
Water Quality Protections

Stormwater and flooding are water quality concerns that can come hand in hand with development. Development often adds large amounts of ‘impervious surfaces’, traditional paved surfaces like roads or roofs, that send rainwater into local waterbodies. 

Green Building
Building Green

The focus of green building is to preserve natural resources and habitats, reduce waste, build more livable communities. A ‘building green’ focuses on building that is designed and built to minimize impact on the environment including that of climate. 

Water collection pool
Water Conservation

Defined as the preservation, management and development of water resources throughout the watershed, water conservation starts with understanding the source at the regional watershed level, and then focusing on the preservation and protection of this resource. 

Planning Vocabulary
Planning Terms

The planning process has a set of terms that might be unfamiliar to the rest of us. Concepts like Home Rule, Eminent Domain, Stakeholders, Mixes Use, Gentrification are important to be familiar with as you move through the planning process. 

Planning Resources
Additional Resources

The planning process can often be limited by not exploring different ways of doing things! Seeing what others have done, or even what might be possible, can open us up to new ways of thinking and planning. 

2024 Student Project Resources

Please be sure every student has completed this linked consent form for 2024 and returned it to the RPLUS representative working with your class by the second visit.


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