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C. Coastal and Inland Waterways Programs

In This Section You Will Learn About:

  • SEQR and the coastal and inland waterways programs

1. What is the Coastal and Inland Waterways Program?

The State's Coastal and Inland Waterways Program was developed to ensure the protection and best use of New York State's coastal and inland water resources and to promote the revitalization of waterfront communities. The program is administered by the Department of State (DOS) and carried out in partnership with local governments and state and federal agencies.

For more information about the State's Coastal and Inland Waterways Program, contact the Department of State:

NYS Department of State
Office of Coastal, Local Government and Community Sustainability
99 Washington Avenue, Suite 1010
Albany, NY 12231-0001
Ph: (518) 474-6000
http://www.nyswaterfronts.com

2. What is the authority for the Coastal and Inland Waterways Program?

Following passage of the federal Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA), New York State developed a Coastal Management Program (CMP) and enacted implementing legislation (Waterfront Revitalization and Coastal Resources Act) in 1981.

The statutory authority for the Coastal and Inland Waterways Program is contained in Article 42 of the Executive Law and the law is implemented by 19 NYCRR Part 600 (see offsite link in the right navigation panel).

3. What are the State's Coastal Policies?

The CMP is based on a set of 44 coastal policies that guide coastal management actions at all levels of government in the State and ensure the appropriate use and protection of coasts and waterways. The coastal policies are grouped into the following categories:

  • Development Policies
  • Fish and Wildlife Policies
  • Flooding and Erosion Hazards Policies
  • General Safeguards
  • Public Access Policies
  • Recreation Policies
  • Historic and Scenic Resources Policies
  • Agricultural Lands Policy
  • Energy and Ice Management Policies
  • Water and Air Resources Policies

The full text of the coastal policies can be found at: http://nyswaterfronts.com/consistency_coastalpolicies.asp

4. What is a Local Waterfront Revitalization Program?

Cities, towns, and villages along major coastal and inland waterways are encouraged to prepare a Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP) in cooperation with DOS. A LWRP is a locally prepared, comprehensive land and water use plan for a community's natural, public, working waterfront, and developed waterfront resources. It provides a comprehensive framework within which critical waterfront issues can be addressed.

LWRPs address a wide range of issues important to waterfront communities including: waterfront redevelopment; expansion of visual and physical public access to the water; coastal resource protection, including habitats, water quality, and historic and scenic resources; and provision for water dependent uses, including recreational boating, fishing, and swimming. As part of the preparation of a LWRP, a community identifies long term uses for its waterfront and an implementation strategy, including enacting or amending appropriate local development controls.

All LWRPs include a local consistency review law which is used to ensure that the actions of the community are consistent with the policies, uses and projects described in the LWRP.

Once approved by the New York Secretary of State and the federal Office of Coastal Resources Management, the LWRP serves to coordinate state and federal actions needed to achieve the community's goals for its waterfront.

5. What is Consistency Review?

Consistency review is the decision-making process through which proposed actions and activities are determined to be consistent or inconsistent with the coastal policies of the New York State Coastal Management Program or approved LWRPs.

Unlike traditional permit or certification programs, the Division does not issue or deny a permit or certification. The Division instead reviews activities being considered by agencies in the coastal area, and determines whether the activity is consistent or inconsistent with the coastal policies of the State. If an activity is determined to be consistent with State coastal policies, the federal agency involved can proceed to authorize or undertake the action guided by DOS's decision. If an activity is determined to be inconsistent with State coastal policies, the federal agency is not allowed to proceed to authorize or undertake the action.

6. What agencies are subject to Consistency Review?

The consistency review process includes and affects federal agencies, the Department of State and its Division of Coastal Resources as the State's designated coastal management agency, other State agencies, and municipalities with approved LWRPs.

  • Federal consistency: The CZMA requires that each Federal agency activity within or outside the coastal zone that affects any land or water use or natural resource of the coastal zone shall be carried out in a manner which is consistent to the maximum extent practicable with the enforceable policies of approved State management programs. All state agencies, including state created authorities, commissions and boards are required to follow federal consistency review procedures if the agency is either a recipient of federal funding or applicant for a federal permit. This requirement applies in the State's coastal zone.
  • State consistency: All state agencies, including state created authorities, commissions and boards are required to follow certain consistency review procedures for direct, regulatory, or funding actions. This requirement applies in the State's coastal area and in any inland communities with an approved LWRP.
  • Local consistency: Communities with adopted LWRPs must conduct a consistency review as part of their local decision-making as prescribed in their local consistency law.

7. What is required for a consistency determination?

The process for determining consistency with the State's coastal policies may involve the completion of a Federal Coastal Assessment Form (FCAF) or coastal assessment form (CAF), and an assessment of project impacts.

  • Federal consistency: All state agencies, including state created authorities, commissions and boards are required to complete a Federal Coastal Assessment Form (FCAF) and an assessment of project impacts on State coastal policies. For federal permitting, the FCAF is submitted to DOS, along with copies of all other information required for the federal permit being applied for. For federal funding, state agencies submit a letter of to DOS describing the project and indicating the results of their policy assessment.
  • State consistency: All state agencies, including state created authorities, commissions and boards are required to complete a CAF and determine if there are effects on coastal policies. If there are, the state agency completes its determination of consistency with those policies and submits a copy of the CAF to DOS. Additionally, when a State agency is acting as the lead agency or as an involved agency for actions involving an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) pursuant to SEQRA, the EIS must include an identification of applicable coastal policies and the effects of the action on those polices.
  • Local consistency: Communities with adopted LWRPs are required to complete a coastal assessment form (CAF) and determine if there are effects on coastal policies as part of their local decision-making as prescribed in their local consistency law.

8. How do project sponsors or agencies know whether a proposed action lies within the State's Coastal Area or a LWRP area?

The New York State Coastal Atlas presents a series of maps which delineate the State's Coastal Area Boundary and identify: Significant Coastal Fish and Wildlife Habitats; Scenic Areas of Statewide Significance; federally-owned lands; and Native American owned lands.

The Coastal Atlas can be found at:
http://www.nyswaterfronts.org/maps_relief.asp

A list of approved Coastal and Inland LWRPs can be found at:
http://www.nyswaterfronts.org/LWRP_Status.asp

The waterfront area for all LWRPs is described in detail in Section I of the LWRP.

Project sponsors can also contact the Department of State at the above address for information about the State's Coastal Area or a LWRP area.

9. What aspects of the Coastal and Inland Waterways Program are subject to SEQR?

SEQR applies to three separate aspects of this program:

  • Consistency determinations for state agency actions undertaken in the State's Coastal Area or waterfront area of an approved LWRP;
  • Adoption or amendment of Local Waterfront Revitalization Programs (LWRPs); and
  • Local development activities located within the State's Coastal Area or the waterfront area of an approved LWRP.

During the SEQR review for these activities, potential impact(s) to coastal or inland waterway resources must be given equal weight with other environmental considerations in the determination of significance. If a positive declaration is issued, the EIS must address the potential impact(s) of the proposed action on coastal or inland waterway resources.

10. How does SEQR apply to consistency determinations for state agency actions undertaken in the State's Coastal Area or waterfront area of an approved LWRP?

The SEQR analysis for the proposed action will include an assessment of the potential effects on the State's coastal policies. The SEQR analysis will then form the basis for the consistency determination. The Findings statement issued by the state agency must certify that the proposed action is consistent with the applicable coastal policies/LWRP.

11. How does SEQR apply to the adoption or amendment of a Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP)?

A LWRP is a locally prepared, comprehensive land and water use plan for a community's natural, public, working waterfront, and developed waterfront resources. The adoption of a LWRP is therefore a Type I subject to SEQR.

The SEQR review for a LWRP requires the completion of a Full EAF and a Determination of Significance prior to its adoption by the local government. Because the LWRP must be approved by the Secretary of State, the Department of State is an involved agency and must be included in the coordinated SEQR review. If a Positive Declaration is issued, the Final EIS and Findings Statement must also be prepared.

It should be noted that prior to approval of a LWRP by the Secretary of State, all local implementation techniques identified in the LWRP must be in place. The adoption of these local implementation techniques, including local laws, may also be subject to SEQR review.

Because the LWRP provides a comprehensive framework within which critical waterfront issues can be addressed, and because the LWRP includes local implementation techniques that may also be subject to SEQR review, an effective way to comply with SEQR would be through the preparation of a generic environmental impact statement.

12. How does SEQR apply to local development activities located within a LWRP area?

All LWRPs include a local consistency review law which is used to ensure that the actions of the community are consistent with the policies, uses and projects described in the LWRP. Communities with approved LWRPs conduct consistency reviews as part of their local decision-making on applications for development proposals. Some activities which are subject to local consistency review may also be subject to SEQR. It is important to note that even if a project is consistent with the LWRP, it may have potential site-specific impacts that must be addressed through the SEQR process.

During the SEQR review for these activities, potential impact(s) to coastal or inland waterway resources must be given equal weight with other environmental considerations in the determination of significance. If a positive declaration is issued, the EIS must address the potential impact(s) of the proposed action on coastal or inland waterway resources.



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