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Critical Environmental Areas Under SEQR. What Do They Mean? How Are They Created?. What’s the Point of a CEA?. Impacts must be assessed by lead agency in reaching determination of significance 6 NYCRR 617.7(c)(1)

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critical environmental areas under seqr

Critical Environmental Areas Under SEQR

What Do They Mean?

How Are They Created?

NYS Department of Environmental Conservation

Division of Environmental Permits

what s the point of a cea
What’s the Point of a CEA?
  • Impacts must be assessed by lead agency in reaching determination of significance
    • 6 NYCRR 617.7(c)(1)
      • “(iii) the impairment of the environmental characteristics of a Critical Environmental Area as designated pursuant to subdivision 617.14(g) of this Part;”
  • Does not automatically result in classification as Type 1
    • Change as of 1996 revisions to SEQR regulations
criteria for a cea
Criteria for a CEA
  • Explicit in regulations, 6 NYCRR 617.14(g)(1):
    • … an area must have an exceptional or unique character covering one or more of the following:
      • (i) a benefit or threat to human health;
      • (ii) a natural setting (e.g., fish and wildlife habitat, forest and vegetation, open space and areas of important aesthetic or scenic quality);
      • (iii) agricultural, social, cultural, historic, archaeological, recreational, or educational values; or
      • (iv) an inherent ecological, geological or hydrological sensitivity to change that may be adversely affected by any change.
examples of existing ceas
Examples of Existing CEAs
  • All listed on DEC’s SEQR Web pages
    • http://www.dec.ny.gov/permits/6184.html
    • Catalogued by county
  • Benefit or threat to human health
    • Hazardous waste sites
      • Dutchess County
    • Watersheds, aquifer recharge, or wellfields
      • Most common basis for existing designations
      • Broome & Cortland Co. / multiple towns
more examples of ceas
More Examples of CEAs
  • A natural setting
    • Wetlands
      • Also a frequent basis for designation
      • Dutchess and Putnam Counties / Great Swamp
  • Agricultural, social, cultural, historic, archaeological, recreational, or educational values
    • Large blocks of mature forest
      • St. Lawrence Co. / Colton
    • Agricultural districts
      • Washington Co. / Easton
still more examples of ceas
(Still) More Examples of CEAs
  • An inherent ecological, geological or hydrological sensitivity to change that may be adversely affected by any change
    • Karst areas
      • Schoharie Co. / Wright
    • Steep slope, exposed ridge and wetlands complex
      • Dutchess Co. / Pine Plains
    • Highly diverse biological community
      • Tompkins Co. / Ithaca
mechanics of creating a cea
Mechanics of Creating a CEA
  • Regulations also explicit on how to designate
    • Must be designated by a local or state agency
      • Local agency must have authority over the land area
        • Typically the legislative body
          • E.g., town board, board of supervisors or legislators
      • State agency must be responsible for specific area
        • E.g., Lake George Park Commission
    • Notice and filing requirements in 617.14(g)
    • Must articulate reasons for designating
    • Must include a map clearly designating boundaries
some practical notes
Some Practical Notes
  • Clearly explain resources and values to be protected, or hazards to be avoided:
    • Water quality or quantity?
    • Habitat?
    • Historic or cultural resources?
    • Offsite migration of known pollutants?
  • Mapping should then include those resources within a readily-communicated, replicable unit
more on the maps
More on the Maps
  • Clear map enables project sponsors and reviewing agencies to clearly identify the entire CEA
    • Essential to know IF a project area is in, or includes, a CEA to then be able to analyze potential impacts
  • Ideal is now a GIS file
    • Also good are conventional bases like USGS topographic maps
    • Less desirable are metes-and-bounds
    • Worst is whole municipality plus narrative
for more information
For More Information:
  • SEQR Regulations
    • http://www.dec.ny.gov/regs/4490.html
  • General SEQR information
    • http://www.dec.ny.gov/permits/357.html
  • SEQR Handbook
    • http://www.dec.ny.gov/permits/6188.html
      • (Chapter 2C = CEAs)
  • NYS DEC Division of Environmental Permits
    • 518-402-9167 in Albany
    • Regional listings through http://www.dec.ny.gov/about/50230.html
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