Community Team Member Spotlight – Meet Justin Steinbach, AICP

Great communities host a mix of uses in order to provide for our daily need to live, work, play, dine, shop and spend time with one another. Through partnerships, good governance and thoughtful planning, they offer communal spaces such as plazas, greens and recreational parks as well as civic buildings like libraries, post offices, churches and community centers. They promote connectivity via critical thoroughfare types such as cross-town boulevards, Main Streets, bike lanes and walkable paths. Private buildings including residential homes, offices and mixed-use facilities add to this mix and result in a vibrant and dynamic community.

But how do we bake a great community?

Meet Justin Steinbach, AICP – a community planning extraordinaire.

As a Certified Planner at CPL, Steinbach is no stranger to helping communities figure out creative ways to reach their full potential. Often working alongside public officials, planning commissions and neighborhood groups, he develops land use plans and programs that identify both short- and long-term solutions to improve and revitalize communities.

“Comprehensive planning is kind of like helping someone bake a gourmet cake” said Steinbach. “After identifying your desired flavor, filling and frosting, we take all of the ingredients from your pantry, put it in a mixing bowl and then let you taste the batter before we put it in the oven. In other words, we help communities plan for their desired future based on their specific needs, constraints and available resources.”

Through research, data analysis and collaboration with interest groups, planners like Steinbach help formulate strategies to address issues and meet goals. For example, as an area grows or changes, he can help communities manage a variety of related economic, social and environmental issues. This could result in planning for new parks, sheltering the homeless, and/or making the region more attractive to businesses.

With more than 16 years of industry experience, Steinbach has spent the better part of his career creating sustainable community plans for towns, cities, counties and metropolitan areas throughout New York State.

He graduated from SUNY Buffalo with a bachelor’s degree in environmental design (minor in architecture) and joined CPL’s Rochester office in 2005.

“I actually spent my first few years after college doing civil engineering and field survey work,” Steinbach said. “But once I joined CPL, I quickly gravitated towards community planning and haven’t looked back since.”

Although happy with his chosen career path, Steinbach doesn’t regret the time he spent out in the field.

“I don’t discount that experience at all.It gave me a well-rounded view of construction and design, and has definitely helped shape my planning career,” he added.

For Steinbach, good planning drills into learning everything about a community – it’s origin, character, uniqueness, hidden assets and growth opportunities.

“I love uncovering every detail about a community and then using that information to guide them in the right direction,” he said. “In fact, one of my favorite projects to date was planning a small park for the Town of Lima. After acquiring a blank slate of land next to an existing park, the Town wanted to utilize it for a mix of active and passive activities. I truly enjoyed working with them to identify every item on their ‘wish list’ and then give them a visual phased plan to make it happen.”

In addition to being part of the American Institute of Certified Planners (NY), Steinbach is also a member of the American Planning Association (Upstate New York Chapter) and the Town of Bristol Planning Board.

Furthermore, he’s an avid outdoorsman, frequent camper, and proud family man with his wife, Ann, and two daughters, Allie and Tessa.

“One of the many reasons why I’ve chosen to stay at CPL all of these years is the incredible work-life balance this company allows me to maintain,” Steinbach explained. “Especially during these most recent uncertain times, I’ve appreciated the flexibility to work from home and be there for my family.”

Steinbach’s wife is a registered ICU nurse at Highland Hospital, and he admits, the first few weeks of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic was both challenging and scary for him and his family.

“Between suddenly having to help our kids adapt to at-home learning and not knowing what my wife was walking into every day at work, the stress levels were a little high at the Steinbach household,” he said. “But having the ability to work from home combined with receiving transparent and consistent communication from our leadership team, we’ve been able to successfully navigate through this unique situation.”

Thankfully, as an experienced Planner, Steinbach is familiar with having to adapt quickly to unique circumstances. Whether he’s adjusting a plan to accommodate changes in zoning codes, environmental regulations or projected population density, helping communities create nimble and flexible plans for their future is just a part of his every day.

Meaning “friendly, lively and enjoyable,” Steinbach enjoys creating convivial community plans that connect people.

Michelle manages and coordinates CPL’s digital content from social media, blogs and e-newsletters to the firm's website and intranet. She brings high energy, focus and advanced writing skills, which enable her to produce relevant content to inform, inspire and enhance CPL's brand awareness and value propositions.

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