Jayne E. Daly


This article examines the challenges presented by the complexity of environmental laws at the local level, through the use of a case study. It documents the important role that comprehensive planning and local regulations play in protecting the natural resources in our communities. In considering "lessons learned," this article also considers what else is needed to continue protecting the environment at the local level. First, there is an overwhelming need for municipalities to develop a regional strategy to protect their natural resources. Second, local laws play an important role in protecting natural resources. While we often think of the state and federal statutes as being the guardians of our waterways and air, more and more local laws are catching what falls through the cracks of the state and federal system. Third, it is very challenging to be an effective local official. The system is complex; the job requires a tremendous amount of time and dedication, awareness and education. It's no wonder that many supervisors and mayors run unopposed or that it is difficult to find volunteers to serve on local boards. Fourth, if we don't focus on supporting the development of local leadership, then all the discussions about local environmental law and smart growth will be for nothing because the ideas will fall on fallow ground. Local officials need training, financial support and enhanced community process, within a regional framework.