The New York Constitution states that "the policy of the state shall be to conserve and protect its natural resources and scenic beauty," and the State grants broad authority for localities to enact environmentally-friendly laws. Comprehensive plans and other local laws can protect sensitive areas and native plant species, implement water use and conservation goals, protect trees, and require environmental mitigation measures. Cluster zoning can limit a development's footprint and maintain more contiguous open space. Incentive zoning can encourage developers to use renewable energy, energy efficiency, reduced impervious surfaces, and maintain native vegetation.
Some excellent resources on sustainability and land use:
Act Locally: Ten Steps Toward Sustainability:
What is Sustainability?
Step 1: Create a Sustainability Task Force
Step 2: Support Local Business
Step 3: Incorporate LEED and Energy Efficiency Standards in Buildings
Step 4: Set A Goal of Zero Waste