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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

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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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