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ENB - Region 4 Notices 03/17/2010

Public Notice

Meeting Notice

Proposal to Amend New York's Forest Legacy Program's Assessment of Need to Create a Rensselaer Plateau Forest Legacy Area

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) as lead agency, proposes to amend the Assessment of Need (AON) to create a Rensselaer Plateau Forest Legacy Area (FLA).

The federal Forest Legacy Program (FLP) (16 U.S.C. Sec. 2103c) was authorized as part of the 1990 Federal Farm Bill. The program acknowledges that most forested lands in the United States are held in private ownership and that forest landowners are facing growing financial pressure to convert their lands to uses that would remove them from the forested land base. Much of this pressure arises from the demand for residential and commercial development.

The FLP is a federal grant program designed to protect forest lands from conversion to non-forest uses. The FLP provides funding to further conservation of important forest lands. In New York the program is administered by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) - Division of Lands and Forests. The program is entirely voluntary. Landowners who wish to participate may either sell the property as fee simple title (all rights), or only a portion of the property rights (conservation easement) and retain ownership of the land. Most of the projects that have been completed in the State to date have involved either working forest conservation easements held by the NYS DEC with a private land owner or outright purchase of property held by NYS DEC as a State Forest or State Forest Preserve Land. The use of conservation easements allows the land to remain in private ownership and ensures that important public values such as wildlife habitat, natural areas, forest resources, and outdoor recreation opportunities are protected.

New York State completed a modified AON for the FLP in 1994. The Secretary of Agriculture approved the AON, and Eligibility Criteria were subsequently developed for which all FLA in New York State must meet. This proposed amendment will show that the Rensselaer Plateau region of New York meets or exceeds the Eligibility Criteria and the goals of the FLP. The Rensselaer Plateau region is consistent with the goals of the FLP due to its ability to maintain and enhance water quality, prevent lands from being converted to non-forest uses, and protect important wildlife habitat.

The Rensselaer Plateau was given priority project status in the 2009 New York State Open Space Conservation Plan. "This area of Rensselaer County includes the fifth largest unfragmented forest in New York State and a portion of the Tomhannock Reservoir Watershed, which provides water to over 100,000 County residents. In addition to the expansive forest, the Plateau supports several unique wetland communities (including sedge meadow, dwarf shrub bog, spruce-fir swamp, and kettle hole bog), an impressive mammal diversity not typical of the greater Capital District (including black bear, fisher, otter, bobcat, and moose), and is included on National Audubon Society's list of Important Bird Areas in New York, which specifically mentions a high diversity and abundance of forest breeders, including many State listed species. Protection activities in this area would not only serve to secure these significant features, but would also contribute to a long-term vision shared by a number of organizations to establish an open space corridor and trail system across the Plateau, connecting Dyken Pond Center to Grafton Lakes State Park, Pittstown State Forest, Capital District Wildlife Management Area, Dickinson Hill Fire Tower, and other recreation and environmental education facilities." Only Open Space Conservation Priority Projects are eligible for State Environmental Protection Fund support, which will compliment federal Legacy Program designation projects within the Area.

Copies of Amendments and Instructions for Public Comments:

Copies of the proposed amendment are available online at: www.dec.ny.gov/lands/63125.html or by request through email r4ump@gw.dec.state.ny.us or by calling NYS DEC - Region 4. Questions or comments on the proposed amendment to the AON to Create a Rensselaer Plateau Forest Legacy Area will be accepted until 4:45 p.m. on April 16, 2010 via email r4ump@gw.dec.state.ny.us or by mailing to the contact person listed below.

Public Meeting Schedule:

Notice is given that a public meeting will be held on Wednesday, March 24 at 6:30 p.m. at the Brunswick Central School (Tamarac) High School Library, 3992 NYS Route 2, Brunswick, New York.

Contact:
William Schongar, NYS DEC - Region 4 Office, 1130 North Westcott Road, Schenectady, NY 12306-2014, Phone: (518) 357-2155


Negative Declaration

Albany County - The City of Albany Planning Board, as lead agency, has determined that the proposed 70 Howard Street (aka 41 Eagle Street) Office Building will not have a significant adverse environmental impact. The action involves a proposal by 70 Howard St. LLC to develop a three story professional office building and rehabilitation of an existing subsurface parking garage to accommodate 22 spaces. The site in question is .39 acres and is currently used as a surface parking lot. The project is located at 70 Howard Street in the City of Albany, New York.

Contact: John Szcesny, City of Albany, 200 Henry Johnson Boulevard, Albany, NY 12206, Phone: (518) 434-5250, E-mail: szczesnyj@ci.albany.ny.us.


Albany County - The City of Albany Planning Board, as lead agency, has determined that the proposed 40/50 New Scotland Avenue will not have a significant adverse environmental impact. On 6/25/09 the Planning Board issued a Negative Declaration of Environmental Significance for this project which included the construction of a six-story, mixed-use building with residential, office, and retail uses to be connected to an eight-level, 1,550 space parking garage. The applicant has submitted revised plans seeking approval for a nine-story building instead of six stories and with office/medical office uses instead of residential uses on the upper floors. The parking garage component of the project remains unchanged. The project is located 40 and 50 New Scotland Avenue in the City of Albany, New York.

Contact: John Szcesny, City of Albany, 200 Henry Johnson Boulevard, Albany, NY 12206, Phone: (518) 434-5250, E-mail: szczesnyj@ci.albany.ny.us.



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