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By George R. Grasser

Next week, the 22nd Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU 22) will be held here in Buffalo. The new urbanism movement, now a quarter-century old, promotes neighborhood-focused sustainable communities that are well-planned, diverse, walkable, compact and vibrant. New urbanism calls for a different mixture of land uses than conventional development patterns, so that people can get from one destination to the other more easily, biking, walking or driving fewer miles.

Because it brings together all of the disciplines involved in land use, the built environment and the protection of our natural environment, the congress has perhaps best been described as America’s land use and built environment brewery – the place where planners, architects, transportation experts, developers, retail experts, public officials and others join together to formulate innovative ideas into something that, if implemented, can actually improve the places where we live.

Past congresses have fostered such ideas as form-based zoning (like Buffalo’s proposed Green Code); “complete streets” to make streets accommodating to motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians; better parking policies and practices; and agricultural urbanism. Current movements include changing street design standards to make residential neighborhoods safer, and “lean urbanism,” lighter, quicker and cheaper ways to revitalize communities.

Among the estimated 1,500 attendees at the congress will be many foremost urbanists from the United States, Canada and other parts of the world.

Many of the events at the congress are free and open to the public, including the opening program at 5:15 p.m. June 4 in the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center and the closing party at 6 p.m. June 7 at Larkin Square.

For Buffalo and Western New York, the congress provides a unique opportunity to learn better ways to approach land use and development.

Our local public officials, architects, planners, developers, transportation professionals and concerned citizens will be able to listen to and engage with recognized experts on how to make their neighborhoods, villages, towns and cities more livable.

CNU has awarded grants to enable public officials of municipalities and government agencies in Western New York and elsewhere in the state to attend CNU 22. There are a few days remaining for other public officials to take advantage of this grant opportunity.

For more information about CNU 22 go to Cats5170@gmail.com">www.cnu22.org.

The John R. Oishei Foundation supported bringing CNU 22 to Buffalo in 2014.

George R. Grasser is a real estate consultant, developer and executive director of the non-profit Partners for a Livable Western New York. He is co-chairman of the host committee for CNU 22.