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Question 1 - Impact on Land - Full EAF (Part 2)

Full Environmental Assessment Form (FEAF) Workbook

Proposed action may involve construction on, or physical alteration of, the land surface of the proposed site.

heavy machineries working to reclaim mined land
Concurrent mine reclamation
McEwan Mining
East Concord, Cattaraugus Co., N.Y

This question asks the reviewing agency to evaluate the potential impacts of any physical alteration of the land. This would include grading, clearing, filling, excavation, and construction of any structure on the land. Some examples of projects that would not include any physical alteration are Adoption of a comprehensive plan, the initial adoption of zoning regulations, the acquisition or sale of land, or the adoption of a local law.

To answer this question

Review Part 1 questions C.1., D.1., and D.2.

If the proposed project does not involve any physical alteration of the land, then check 'No' and move on to question 2. If the proposed project does involve some physical alteration, check 'Yes' and answer sub-questions (a) through (h).

Identifying potential impacts

The reviewing agency should evaluate the following sub-questions and decide if there will be any impact. If there will be an impact, the reviewing agency must then evaluate the magnitude of that impact, and decide if the impact will be small or moderate to large. This will depend on the overall scale and context of the proposed project as described in the Introduction to Part 2. The reviewing agency should be reasonable when conducting this review.

  • If the proposed project exceeds a numeric threshold in a question, it is presumed to be a moderate to large impact.
  • If the proposed project does not exceed a numeric threshold in a question, the reviewing agency should consider the scale and context of the project in determining if an impact may be small or moderate to large.
  • These sub-questions are not meant to be exhaustive. The reviewing agency should use the "Other impacts:" sub-question to include any additional elements they feel need to be analyzed for potential impacts.

a. The proposed action may involve construction on land where depth to water table is less than 3 feet.

Ground water and water table are directly related. Part 2 question 4 specifically asks about impacts on groundwater. Some of the information, analysis, and impacts will overlap with that question. It is up to the reviewing agency to decide if they want to address these issues in question 1, 4, or both. However, if potable water will be involved or may be impacted, Question 4 must also be answered.

If construction will take place on lands having shallow depth to water table, then there is likely to be some level of impact. Construction in areas where the depth to water table is less than three feet can cause flooding of basements, storage tanks, underground utilities, waste dumps, and septic tank absorption fields. In addition, it may be difficult to provide stormwater management controls to meet SPDES permit requirements (runoff reduction). Rises in water tables or changes to surface water runoff can mobilize contaminants and threaten local groundwater quality. Contaminants can move into other subsurface facilities and into surface waters, causing health and safety problems. Although shallow ground water is not generally important for water supply, under certain conditions, contaminated shallow ground water may mix with water in underlying aquifers and degrade the quality of drinking and irrigation water.

Applicable Part 1 Information

D.2.a., D.2.p., D.2.q., D.2.r., D.2.s., D.2.t., E.2.d. and E.2.e.

Analysis

In order to decide if impacts will occur, the reviewing agency should look at the available information and ask:

  • If the average depth to water table is less than 3 feet, what, if any portion of the land disturbance will be located in those locations?
  • What portion of the land disturbance will be located where project site soils are poorly drained?
  • Will surface water flows be altered?
    • If so, will it affect any stream, wetland, lake or other surface water body on or near the project site?
  • Will any alteration affect any groundwater resources?

Will there be an impact?

If the depth to water table is greater than three feet and there will be no excavation on the project site that will lessen the depth to water table, or no proposed activities are planned for locations having shallow water tables, there will be no related flooding, contamination, or groundwater impacts, so check 'no, or small impact may occur'.

Small Impact:

Proposed projects that include minor levels of disturbance in areas having a water table close to the land surface are likely to have only a small impact. Examples would be:

  • Disturbance of land, including stormwater mitigation practices, is limited to areas without high water table
  • Disturbance to land, including stormwater mitigation practices, will remain close to the surface, but above the water table
  • Minor excavation that avoids high water table
  • Commercial application of pesticides.
Moderate to Large Impact:

Proposed projects that are much larger in scale, where areas of shallow depth to water table is extensive and unavoidable and where there is a higher potential for water pollution could have a moderate to large impact. Some examples that might fall into this category are:

  • Major excavation that does not avoid high water table
    • Residential development with full basements and high water table.
  • Mining activity, especially one that requires a DEC Mined Land Reclamation Permit for being larger than 5 acres and not privately operated on private land.
  • Activity that does not have equilibrium between amounts of groundwater withdrawals and recharge.
    • Water supply or sewage treatment is at an off-site location.
  • A project where solid or hazardous waste production, storage, or disposal takes place.
  • A project where storage of bulk petroleum or chemical products takes place.

b. The proposed action may involve construction on slopes of 15% or greater.

Construction on steep slopes (greater than 15%) can result in adverse impacts including land slippage, erosion, changes to stormwater runoff quantity and location, visual impacts, and safety issues for vehicular access. Upstream and downstream habitats and resources can be affected by erosion and sedimentation. Unstable soils can cause landslides or slippage after construction, creating ecological damage as well as unsafe conditions. Construction on steep slopes can change the pattern of runoff and the quantity of runoff, thus impacting soil stability and down slope areas. Steep slopes are usually part of a significant landscape characteristic (including the ridgelines) that when altered, can change the visual quality of the area. Providing access for sites on steep slopes can cause any of the above issues as well as be a safety issue.

Applicable Part 1 Information

D.2.a., D.2.e., E.2.b., E.2.f., and E.2.h.

Analysis

  • Are there any portions of the site having slopes 15% or greater?
  • Will any construction or land disturbance take place on those steep slopes?
  • Is there potential for erosion from steep slope areas?
  • Are there any water bodies that could be affected by erosion?
  • Will a structure be placed on the slope or on the ridge top?
  • How would this affect the visual quality of that area?

Will there be an impact?

If there are no slopes greater than 15% on the parcel, or no proposed activities are planned for locations on the parcel having steep slopes, there will be no steep slope related erosion, runoff, or visual impacts, so check 'no, or small impact may occur'.

Small Impact:

Proposed projects that disturb limited areas of land having slopes greater than 15% are likely to have only a small impact. Examples would be:

  • Only a small portion of the site contains slopes of 15%, and building is limited.
  • Any cut and fill needed can be done without creating slopes greater than 15% with appropriate erosion control measures.
  • Visibility will not be increased due to position on a slope.
Moderate to Large Impact:

Proposed projects that are much larger in scale, where there are extensive areas of slopes greater than 15%, that are unavoidable, where there is a higher risk of stormwater runoff and erosion impacting valley streams and waterbodies, or where the project is on a site that is highly visible could have a moderate to large impact. Some examples that might fall into this category are:

  • Extensive excavation on steep slopes where cut and fill will leave slopes steeper than exist now.
  • Removal of large areas of vegetation on steep slopes from the site.
  • Building on steep slopes next to streams or river banks with a history of unstable soils.
  • Visibility will be increased due to position on a slope.

c. The proposed action may involve construction on land where bedrock is exposed, or generally within 5 feet of existing ground surface.

Construction in areas where bedrock is exposed or soils are shallow may mean that conventional septic systems cannot be properly built, or that difficulties could arise for placement of utilities and basements. Shallow soils may also cause problems with meeting stormwater permit requirements.

Applicable Part 1 Information

E.2.a., and E.2.b.

Analysis

  • Is the average depth to bedrock less than 5 feet?
  • Are there any bedrock outcroppings located on the site?
  • Will any land disturbance take place on locations having shallow bedrock or bedrock outcroppings?
  • Will blasting occur?
    • If yes, will that create fracturing of bedrock that would allow water or pollutants to percolate into groundwater?
    • Are there any nearby uses that might be affected by such blasting?

Will there be an impact?

If there are no areas having exposed or shallow bedrock, or no proposed activities are planned for locations on the parcel having exposed or shallow bedrock, there will be no related groundwater impacts, so check 'no, or small impact may occur'.

Small Impact:

Small impacts may occur where exposed or shallow bedrock is present and the proposed project disturbs only a limited area by excavation and where no blasting occurs. An example would be:

  • Structures such as fences, accessory structures, parking areas, or limited disturbances take place on areas where there is shallow bedrock.
Moderate to Large Impact:

Proposed projects in locations with soils highly susceptible to erosion or extensive areas of shallow or exposed bedrock, where land disturbance to those areas are large or unavoidable, can result in moderate to large impact related to water runoff, fracturing bedrock etc. Some examples that might fall into this category are:

  • A project where there is a need to blast in order to develop the site as proposed, resulting in fractures to the bedrock.
  • The site is located over limestone bedrock known to have numerous caves, cracks, and sinkholes that impact the projects ability to meet SPDES permit requirements..
  • Projects that are large in size that may change stormwater runoff patterns, and remove trees and vegetation that serve to hold soils in place.
  • Engineering and added cost to extend infrastructure through difficult conditions such as
    • Roads
    • Water and sewer lines
    • Electric and gas services
  • Need to blast in order to develop the site as proposed, resulting in fractures.

d. The proposed action may involve the excavation and removal of more than 1,000 tons of natural material.

This question explores whether any mining is proposed to take place. A Mined-Land Reclamation permit is required for all excavations and related activities defined as mining, from which more than 1,000 tons or 750 cubic yards, whichever is less, of a mineral(s)is (are) removed from the earth during twelve successive calendar months. This is approximately equal to 40-50 tandem-axle (10-wheeler) dump truck loads.

Mining includes

  • The extraction of overburden and minerals from the earth
  • The preparation and processing of minerals, including any activities or processes used for the extraction or removal of minerals from their original location
  • The preparation such as washing, cleaning, crushing, stockpiling or other processing at a mine location that makes a mineral suitable for commercial, industrial, or construction

Some activities may still require evaluation, although not require a MLR Permit, such as:

  • Manufacturing processes utilizing mined materials that are undertaken at the mine location
  • Excavation, removal, and placement of minerals in the undertaking of a construction project, but generally not including the construction of a water body; and
  • The excavation, removal, and placement of minerals undertaken strictly to aid in enhancing the agricultural utility of existing agricultural lands

Project applicants who answer yes to this question may want to contact the DEC Mined Land Reclamation Specialist located in the appropriate regional office that covers the project site for a determination on the applicability of the mined land reclamation law.

Applicable Part 1 Information

D.2.a., D.2.b.(ii), D.2.b.(iii), E.2.d., and E.2.e.

Analysis

  • Does Part 1 D2a (ii) indicate that more than 1,000 tons of natural material will be removed?
  • What materials will be removed?
  • How long will removal take?
    • All at once or in phases over time?
  • What impact will that removal have on habitats and ecology of the area?
  • Where will removed materials be deposited?
    • On site or off site?
    • If off site, how much trucking will be required?
  • Are any erosion control methods proposed?

Will there be an impact?

If no excavation is planned, there will be no related impacts, so check 'no, or small impact may occur'.

Small Impact:

Proposed projects that excavate small quantities of natural materials on an infrequent seasonal basis or that result in limited excavation in support of site construction could have small impacts. Examples would be:

  • Excavation and removal of less than 1,000 tons of natural material.
    • Such as a small scale gravel or sand mining operation
    • removal of no more than 1,000 tons from the site over the life of the mine or project, but occurring over a period of years.
  • Excavation that is needed during the construction phase of a project that requires removal of excavated material off-site.
Moderate to Large Impact:

Proposed projects that are much larger in scale, that have long-term or multi-phased excavations, and that are near sensitive environmental features may have a moderate to large impact. Some examples that might fall into this category are:

  • Multi-phased developments that take place over many years and where many tons of material are removed.
    • Multi-phase residential.
    • Gravel mine.
  • Single-phase development, with concentrated timeline for excavation.
    • 24-hour operation.
  • Excavations that are large and deep so that there may be an effect on nearby water wells.
  • Large excavations that have potential impacts such as noise, air pollution, visual impacts due to changed landscapes and community character, introduction of large scale land uses that are in sharp contrast to existing uses, or removal of vegetation that will result in fragmentation of habitats.

e. The proposed action may involve construction that continues for more than one year or in multiple phases.

Construction that takes more than a year or that has multiple phases can cause impacts related but not limited to: ongoing traffic disruptions, use of heavy equipment with high noise levels, stockpiles of soils and materials and other visual signs of construction that result in longer-term visual changes to the character of the area, or other ongoing noise or odor nuisances.

Applicable Part 1 Information

D.1.e.

Analysis

  • What is the total time frame for the project and how many phases are planned?
  • What adjacent land uses may be affected by that long-term construction?
    • How would they be affected?

Will there be an impact?

If the project will be completed within one year of approval or if there is only one phase to the project, there will be no related impacts, so check 'no, or small impact may occur'.

Small Impact:

Examples of phased projects that would have a small impact could be:

  • Construction that occurs in multiple phases, but the overall level of activity will not be substantially different from a single phase project
  • Construction will continue for more than one year, but activity will be intermittent.
    • There will be spurts of activity for less than 2 months at a time, perhaps seasonally for one or two years.
Moderate to Large Impact:
  • Construction that occurs over multiple phases, over many years should be considered long-term.

f. The proposed action may result in increased erosion, whether from physical disturbance or vegetation removal (including from treatment by herbicides).

Applicable Part 1 Information

D.1.b., D.2.a., D.2.b., D.2.e., D.2.q., and E.2.f.

Analysis

  • Is the project required to create and implement a SWPPP?
  • How much of the parcel will have impervious surfaces?
  • How much of the parcel will be physically disturbed or have vegetation removed?
  • What proposed activities could cause erosion?
  • Are there streams, wetlands, lakes, or steep slopes on the parcel or nearby that could be affected by erosion from the site?
  • What measures are proposed to limit erosion impacts?

Will there be an impact?

If no erosion is likely to occur from physical disturbance or vegetation removal, there will be no related water quality impacts so check 'no, or small impact may occur'.

Small Impact:

Proposed projects that disturb limited areas of land subject to erosion (e. g. stable soils, areas having slopes greater than 15%) are likely to have only a small impact. Examples would be:

  • Stormwater discharges will take place but it will not flow to adjacent properties and the project minimizes stormwater runoff.
  • The project includes land clearing that disturbs less than one-acre of land (or less than 5,000 square feet in the New York City - East of Hudson watershed) and does not require a SWPPP.
  • The project includes some paving or construction of other impervious surfaces, but runoff is either controlled with a SWPPP, or covers a small percentage of the parcel.
Moderate to Large Impact:

Proposed projects that are much larger in scale and where larger volumes of stormwater will be created and managed could have a moderate to large impact. However, some smaller sized projects that do not need to meet NY stormwater permitting requirements may also have moderate to large impacts especially if the water body being affected is significant. Some examples that might fall into this category are:

  • No SWPPP has been developed, and stormwater discharges will flow to adjacent properties and negatively impact that property or other natural resources off-site, such as wetlands, reservoirs, or protected streams.
  • Stormwater will impact an important aquatic habitat for rare, endangered or threatened species.
  • Stormwater will prevent the designated best use of Class A, B, or C(t) waterbodies.
  • Large areas of vegetation will be removed from the site.
  • Large portions of development will occur on steep slope areas.

g. The proposed action is, or may be, located within a Coastal Erosion hazard area.

waterfront with wooden stakes to prevent erosion
Coastal Erosion

Applicable Part 1 Information

B.i. D.1.a., D.2.a., D.2.b., and D.2.e.

Analysis

  • What coastal resources are likely to be impacted if erosion takes place?
  • Is the project required to create and file a SWPPP?
  • How much of the parcel will be impervious surfaces?
  • How much of the parcel will be physically disturbed or have vegetation removed?
  • What proposed activities could cause erosion?

Will there be an impact?

If the proposed project site is not located in a designated coastal erosion hazard area, there will be no related coastal erosion impacts so check 'no, or small impact may occur'.

Small Impact:

Examples would be:

  • Development will occur within the coastal hazard area, but will not disturb any natural protective features, or existing erosion protection structures.
  • Structures placed within the coastal hazard area are portable, temporary, or can be removed when hazard levels rise.
Moderate to Large Impact:

Examples would be:

  • Development will occur within the coastal hazard area, and will require the removal of some natural vegetation which has been identified as a protective feature.
  • A project will disturb or remove dunes, natural vegetation or other similar natural protective barriers.
  • Large areas of impervious surfaces or other structures that will increase stormwater runoff are proposed.
  • Development will require construction of new erosion protection structures.

h. Other impacts:

There may be other impacts identified by the reviewing agency that are not addressed by the above questions. If so, they should be identified and briefly described here.

Some proposed actions may have beneficial impacts on the environment. The reviewing agency can use the 'other' category for that purpose, too.\

Back to Part 2 (FEAF) Identification of Potential Project Impacts || Continue to Part 2 (FEAF) Question 2 Impact on Geological Features


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