CHQ 07312015 0357


At its annual end-of-season meeting on Saturday, Aug. 24, Chautauqua Institution’s board of trustees approved revisions to its Architectural and Land Use (ALU) Regulations, which will go into effect on Dec. 1, 2013.

ALU Regulations (PDF)

The revised regulations include several important changes aimed at benefitting property owners and the larger Chautauqua community going forward:

  • The new regulations are geared toward preserving existing structures through restoration or renovation and discourage demolition. The process for renovation approval has been streamlined and simplified.
  • The new regulations have been designed to be clear, straight-forward and quantifiable. Definitions and requirements are more comprehensive, and quantitative measures have been defined for setbacks, height limits, percentage of green space and building size, to name a few. This information will help ensure consistent results.
  • The new regulations create 5 distinct districts (formerly 18) based on the character of buildings, lot layout patterns, building heights, setbacks, appearances and uses. We feel that the impact of this change on current property owners will be minimal since it’s reflective of existing conditions, allows for more uniform rules and regulations, and grandfather provisions will be made for prior compliant situations that are not compliant with new regulations.
  • The new regulations require that each project recognizes either the existing architectural style of a building or utilizes an academically identifiable architectural style for new construction.
  • Within each of the 5 districts a box or envelope has been created that follows the pattern in that district. Projects that work within that box or envelope will be reviewed by the Institution’s Architectural and Land Use Administrator even when a substantial rehabilitation project is proposed. Currently all substantial rehabilitation projects are reviewed by the Architectural Review Board.

For further information or questions about the revised ALU Regulations, please contact John Shedd, Architectural and Land Use Regulations Administrator and Capital Projects Manager, at (716) 357-6246 or


The revisions to the Institution’s ALU Regulations are the result of a two-year process involving an ALU Study Group (members listed below), assembled by then-board chairman George Snyder, numerous public input and presentation sessions in 2011 and 2012, and the posting of drafts on the Institution’s website for review and comments up until April 2013.

The 16-person ALU Study Group held six meetings between January and October 2011. During Weeks Two through Seven of the 2011 Season, study group members held one-on-one interviews at the Main Gate ate Welcome Center with the public to discuss their thoughts, concerns and issues related to ALU regulations. The comments of 55 total participants were summarized in two public presentations, which were attended by more than 100 members of the community. A final report of the study group was presented to the board at its annual retreat on Feb. 3, 2012.

Following the Feb. 2012 presentation, Snyder commissioned a subgroup (listed below) that included several members of the original study group and members of the board of trustees to review the report and prepare a draft of revised regulations. The subgroup met several times during the 2012 Season in a workshop-type setting to discuss existing regulations. The group also held a public presentation during Week Nine of the 2012 Season, answering questions from those in attendance.

Drafts of the proposed ALU regulations were published for public review on the Institution’s “On the Grounds” website in the fall of 2012 and spring of 2013 . At the May board meeting, a group of board members was charged with developing a final draft to present to the full board for consideration at the Aug. 24 meeting.



Amelia Dean, property owner and interior designer
Bill Laubscher, property owner and architect
David Rosen,property owner and architect with involvement in land use, Zoning Boards of Adjustments and Historic Preservation Commissions.
Gayle Camden, property owner and professional designer
Jane Buch, property owner and BTG member
Jeffrey Simpson, author and editor, Architectural Digest
Jim Lynch, property owner
Jim Pardo, property owner, Trustee, member of the Architectural Review Board
Karen Goodell, property owner, realtor, real estate developer, and Foundation Director

Kathryn Lincoln, property owner, Trustee and Foundation Director
Markie McCarthy, property owner, CPOA Board member
Miles DeMott, property owner
Wendy Barensfeld, property owner
Susan Luehrs, property owner of a historic rooming house
Tom Small, property owner, officer of the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy
Bob Jeffrey, property owner, member of the Architectural Review Board, former manager of City of St. Petersburg’s Urban Design and Historic Preservation Division
Key Chautauqua Institution staff members


Tom Small, David Rosen, Miles DeMott, Bob Jeffrey and Chautauqua Institution board member Barbara Georgescu

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Chautauqua Institution is blessed with a large community of volunteers that support the many programs that take place each summer. Our many "Friends of" groups and their networks help to strengthen connections between Chautauquans and our resident artists and presenters.




Chautauqua Institution is the recipient of the 2010 Silver Award from the International Awards for Livable Communities. Endorsed by the United Nations Environment Programme, the LivCom Awards is the world’s only awards competition focusing on international best practice regarding the management of the local environment.

Designated both a National Historic District because of the characteristics of Chautauqua, the place, it is also designated as a National Historic Landmark because of its contribution to American culture. Chautauqua joined seven other iconic American places as the recipient of the Heritage Award from the Urban Land Institute.

In presenting the award ULI stated “If the physical archetype for traditional neighborhood developments in the United States is colonial Charleston, Savannah, or Annapolis, the holistic prototype has always been Chautauqua…Its appeal derives not from its historical quaintness, but from its relevance to life today.”

Chautauqua Institution has also been honored by the American Institute of Architects for its commitment to historic preservation and by Chautauqua County for its leadership role in innovative energy-saving techniques.

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“On the Grounds” will continue to provide updates throughout the off-season.