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Part 2 - Impact Assessment (SEAF)

Short Environmental Assessment Form (SEAF)

The Lead Agency is responsible for completion of Part 2.
Answer all of the following questions in Part 2 using the information contained in Part 1 and other materials submitted by the project sponsor or otherwise available to the reviewer. When answering the questions the reviewer should be guided by the concept "Have my responses been reasonable considering the scale and context of the proposed action?"

Lead agencies are reminded to be aware that some agencies may have requirements that a project review be coordinated.

Introduction

The purpose of Part 2 is to use the information from Part 1 to identify potential adverse impacts that need further consideration by the reviewing agency. The questions included in Part 2 are designed to help the reviewing agency identify what, if any, impacts may occur as a result of the project. Part 2 is also used to decide whether those impacts will have no impact or a small impact, or a moderate to large impact.

Nothing in this workbook, particularly the guidance offered in Part 2 and 3, is found in regulation. While the EAF's need to be completed according to Part 617 regulations, interpretation on the size or significance of an impact is at the discretion of the reviewing agency.

Completing Part 2 will help identify any topics that need to be discussed further in Part 3. Taken together, Part 2 and Part 3 will help the reviewing agency determine if a negative declaration is appropriate, and if not, formulate a list or 'scope' of environmental topics that will need to be addressed further in an environmental impact statement.

Importance of Scale and Context

When you have determined that a potential impact may occur, you will also need to decide if that impact will be small or moderate to large. This decision should be based on the magnitude of the potential impact. Magnitude is not just the physical size of the project in feet or acres. Magnitude considers the scale, context and severity of a project.

Scale

Scale refers to both the size and the intensity of the project. The scale of a project can be measured several ways. It includes the overall size of the project site, the number of buildings or structures proposed, the size of the parking lot, or the height and other dimensions of buildings. It also refers to features that measure the intensity of the project such as the amount of traffic that will be generated, or the amount of land to be cleared and graded.

Context

Context refers to the conditions on the project site and its relation to adjacent parcels, the neighborhood, and the community as a whole. Similar projects in different settings may have very different environmental impacts. For example: construction of a commercial building that is 10,000 square feet in size in a community that is already developed, has public water, sewer and storm drains, and is on a lot that has already been cleared will have very different impacts than the same sized and scaled project built in a rural, undeveloped community, with no public infrastructure, and little other development nearby. In this example, the scale is similar but the context is very different.

Measuring Impacts

An impact is measured by its magnitude. The magnitude of an impact depends on the overall size, setting, and severity of the impact. A project that will disturb a few hundred square feet of land might be considered small in area, but if it destroys 100% of a rare species habitat, the severity of that impact would be considered large. Likewise, the construction of a warehouse in an established industrial district might be large in area, but the severity of the impact might be considered quite small, or even non-existent.

The magnitude of an impact should be determined based, as much as possible, on the facts provided in Part 1, and on the scale and context of the project. A proposed action could have no impact on the environment, or an impact could be small, or moderate to large. Part 2 asks reviewing agencies to identify if an impact will occur, and if so, what size that impact will be.

  • No Impact: No impact will occur if the proposed action is consistent with the community's adopted plan and zoning, does not cause a change in the intensity of land use in the area, does not change the quality of the existing community or its character, does not change or impact any environmental resource or infrastructure, or create a hazard to human health as identified in Part 1.
  • Small Impact: These are impacts that are minor in magnitude and that have small or limited effects on environmental resources. Small impacts may also occur when an impact is limited to a small area. Small impacts are usually isolated, of minimal size, intermittent or short in duration (days to weeks), and do not affect rare or unusual species, habitats, or other resources. Small impacts include those that would generally be considered negligible and minor. These are often impacts from activities or resources that are not regulated or protected by any local, State or national agency.
  • Moderate Impact: These are impacts that are moderate in magnitude and that have more impact on environmental resources. Moderate impacts can also occur when the impact affects a larger part of the parcel or even a small area extending just beyond the parcel. Moderate environmental impacts may be either isolated (only in one location), or of regional concern. They generally are longer lasting (moderate in duration in weeks or several months), are largely reversible and can be readily addressed through mitigation measures or project changes. The resources affected often have broader local or regional concern and often are activities or resources that are regulated or protected by some local, State, or national agency.
  • Large Impact: These are impacts that are severe in magnitude or cover larger areas in the neighborhood or community. The environmental impacts anticipated could be irreversible, challenging to mitigate, of wide regional scale, or of long duration. A large impact may also be unlikely to occur, but if it does, would be very damaging to the environment. The resources affected often have broader local or regional concern and often are activities or resources that are regulated or protected by some local, State, or national agency.

These descriptions of no impact, or small, moderate, and large impacts are not always cut and dry however. An impact to a very small area that is home to a rare species would generally be considered a large impact because it could severely impact that rare species. And a project that affects many acres may not affect any resources. When evaluating whether a proposed action has an impact, and if so, how large it is, the reviewing agency must consider the size, scale, magnitude, and resources in and around the location together.

Instructions for the Reviewing (Lead) Agency

It is the lead agency's responsibility to answer all Part 2 questions, 1 through 11.
You should use information submitted by the applicant or project sponsor in Part 1 to answer these. The lead agency can request clarification or expansion of information submitted in Part 1 if it is needed to answer the questions in Part 2. However, new information that is requested should come from currently existing, or readily available sources. It is not intended that exhaustive new studies be required to complete Part 2.
You may find it helpful to follow these steps to complete the Part 2 questions:

  • Review answers to Part 1, questions 1 through 20. This will help you become familiar with the project area. If you feel there is missing or incorrect information, you can request clarification or additional information from the project sponsor/applicant.
  • Using the workbook web pages as a guide, work through answering questions 1 through 11. Each question page includes references to pertinent Part 1 questions, and a process for deciding if there is any impact, and if so, what the magnitude of that impact might be.
  • Fill in the Part 2 table on the SEAF.
    • Check 'No or small impact may occur' if you determine that there will be no impact or only a small impact to that resource.
    • Check 'Moderate to large impact may occur' if you determine there may be a moderate to large impact to that resource

Each of the Part 2 questions explores a different environmental topic. These topics, in general are:

Question 1: Conflicts with existing plans or zoning
Question 2: Change in use or intensity
Question 3: Impact on community character
Question 4: Impact on critical environmental areas
Question 5: Impact on traffic, transportation, or pedestrian opportunities
Question 6: Impact on Energy
Question 7: Impact on water or wastewater supplies or systems
Question 8: Impact on historic, archaeological, architectural, or aesthetic resources
Question 9: Impact on natural resources
Question 10: Impact on erosion, flooding or drainage
Question 11: Impact on human health

Moving on to Part 3

When the Part 2 table is complete, proceed to Part 3.

  • If you checked "No or small impact may occur" for all eleven questions in Part 2, then you are only required to check the second box at the bottom of Part 3, fill out the lead agency information, date, and sign the form. However, you may use Part 3 to explain any measures or design elements that have been included by the project sponsor to avoid or reduce impacts, and to explain your rationale for determining that the impact will not occur or will be small.
  • If you checked "Moderate to large impact may occur" for any question in Part 2, then each of these will need additional evaluation in Part 3. Part 3 will help the reviewing agency decide if the impacts identified are significant and whether or not to require an environmental impact statement.

Go to Question 1 - (Part 2)


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