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Question 9 - Impact on Aesthetic Resources - Full EAF (Part 2)

Full Environmental Assessment Form (FEAF) Workbook

The land use of the proposed action are obviously different from, or are in sharp contrast to, current land use patterns between the proposed project and a scenic or aesthetic resource.

A hiker standing on top of a mountain overlooking the forests

This question explores consistency in land use between the proposed project and other land uses that may be seen from or part of a scenic or aesthetic resource. It is oriented to those scenic and aesthetic resources that are officially designated and publicly accessible. Officially designated scenic areas include scenic byways, scenic roads, scenic areas of statewide significance, scenic trails, and scenic rivers. Other designated areas may also include places or sites listed on the National or State Registers of Historic Places, State Parks, State Forest Preserve areas, State Game Refuges, National Natural Landmarks, and National Park Service Lands. Note that other areas may also be designated for scenic and aesthetic reasons at the local level. For example, some local municipalities have conducted their own scenic inventory and have designated those areas in county or local plans, and may include municipal parks and designated open spaces, local roads, or historic areas. Others have designated critical environmental areas for aesthetic reasons. Publicly accessible aesthetic or scenic resources are those that can be viewed from public lands or on public roads.

In order to determine if a project is obviously different from or in sharp contrast to current land use patterns part that are viewed from or part of a scenic resource, you will have to understand the context and scale of other land uses. "Different or in sharp contrast" may mean bigger, taller, higher, more dense, an obviously different color or design, or where the landscape is significantly changed. For example, a project that removes 10 acres of woodland on a completely wooded hillside is likely to result in a landscape that is in sharp contrast to current patterns. Or a 300 unit residential complex proposed on a parcel that is surrounded by large agricultural fields seen from a scenic byway would also be obviously different or in sharp contrast to the current agricultural nature.

When answering this question, first determine if an officially designated scenic or aesthetic resource is present. If so, then look at Part 1, Question E1b to understand the current land uses and cover types that are in the area and potential changes after project completion. The following may help you answer this question:

  • Will the proposed activity introduce a different land use in or near the project site?
  • Will the proposed activity have architectural features and site design that is visually consistent with other buildings and structures in the area?
  • Will the proposed activity introduce a different level or kind of activity in the area that is very different from what currently exists?
  • How far away is the proposed project site from the scenic or aesthetic resource?

To answer this question

Review Part 1 questions C.2., C.3., D.1.a., D.1.g., D.2.n., E.1.a., E.1.b., E.3.c., E.3.g., and E.3.h.

If the project will create a land use that is obviously different or in sharp contrast to these existing land uses when viewed from or within a scenic resource, then answer 'Yes' to Question 9 and then complete sub-questions (a) through (g). If there is no obvious change or sharp contrast in land uses, then check "No" to Question 9 and move on to Question 10.

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. Proposed action may be visible from any officially designated federal, state, or local scenic or aesthetic resource.

Officially designated scenic areas include scenic byways, scenic roads, scenic areas of statewide significance, scenic trails, and scenic rivers. Other locations and areas may also be designated for scenic and aesthetic reasons at the local level. See the above discussion of other officially designated scenic or aesthetic resources. You may want to review the DEC Program Policy on Visual Impacts: DEP-00-2 "Assessing and Mitigating Visual Impacts." (PDF) (323 KB)

Applicable Part 1 Information

E.3.h.

Analysis

  • Is the project site visible from a designated scenic resource?
  • How much of the project site is visible?
  • How much distance is there between the project and resource?
  • Is the visibility of the project seasonal?
    • If so, is the project site visible at the same time of year that the public views the scenic or aesthetic resource?
  • What general land uses exist between the project site and scenic resource?
    • Will the project site be in sharp contrast to those land uses?

Will there be an impact?

If the proposed project is not visible from any officially designated federal, state, or local scenic or aesthetic resource, or there are no such designated resources in the area, then there will be no related impacts. Check 'No, or small impact may occur."

Small Impact:

Some examples of small impacts that might fall into this category are:

  • The project will be partly visible, but it is not in sharp contrast with other existing land uses in the area.
  • The project will be partly to mostly visible, but it is very far away from the scenic resource and is not in sharp contrast to existing land uses in the area.
  • A limited portion of the project will be visible, but from very few publicly accessible locations.
  • The project will be visible but vegetation or other factors such as distance and topography screen and soften the visibility of it.
Moderate to Large Impact:

Some examples of moderate to large impacts that might fall into this category are:

  • The project will be visible and is in sharp contrast to surrounding land uses by virtue of its scale, dimension, color, or height.
  • The project is not in sharp contrast to existing land uses in the area but is very visible.
  • The project will obstruct or partially obstruct publicly accessible views of the scenic resource.
  • The project is situated so that it changes the visual aspect of the scenic resource.

b. The proposed action may result in the obstruction, elimination or significant screening of one or more officially designated scenic views.

Placement of new structures, including signs, fences, or landscaping may obstruct, screen or otherwise prevent views of a scenic resource from publicly accessible locations. Other projects may remove vegetation that has served to screen non-scenic resources that may now become visible from publicly accessible locations. Any project activity that changes the views from or to a scenic resource could potentially have adverse impacts.

Applicable Part 1 Information

E.3.h. and C.2.b.

Analysis

  • Are any new structures, including signs, fences or landscaping placed on the project site in such a way as to obstruct views from or to a scenic resource?
  • Have any changes been proposed that will remove landscaping or fences that screen non-scenic resources also visible from or to a scenic area?

Will there be an impact?

If no features of the proposed project will obstruct, eliminate or screen views from or to a scenic or aesthetic resource, then there will be no related impacts. Check 'No, or small impact may occur."

Small Impact:

Some examples of small impacts that might fall into this category are:

  • The project will be visible, but it is not in sharp contrast with other existing land uses in the area and will not obstruct, eliminate or screen the scenic resource.
  • The project will be visible, but it is very far away from the scenic resource and is not in sharp contrast to existing land uses in the area.
Moderate to Large Impact:

Some examples of moderate to large impacts that might fall into this category are:

  • The project will obstruct or partially obstruct publicly accessible views of the scenic resource.
  • The project is situated so that it changes the visual aspect of the scenic resource by being in sharp contrast to the surrounding land uses or by screening the scenic resource.
  • The project will eliminate or partially eliminate, obstruct, or screen the scenic resource.

c. The proposed action may be visible from publicly accessible vantage points: i. Seasonally (e.g., screened by summer foliage, but visible during other seasons) ii. Year round

Publicly accessible vantage points may be scenic viewing spots, identified road pull-offs and overlooks, parks and greens, road sections within a scenic byway, or other locally designated spots. These are locations where one can view a scenic or aesthetic resource. Some vantage points may have year-round views of the scenic resource. Others may be important during the winter season when leaves are off the trees.

Applicable Part 1 Information

E.3.h.

Analysis

  • Will the proposed site be visible from any publicly accessible vantage point?
    • If so, what will be seen and how much of the project will be visible?

Will there be an impact?

If the project site is not visible from any publicly accessible vantage point, then there will be no related impacts. Check 'No, or small impact may occur.'

Small Impact:

Some examples of small impacts that might fall into this category are:

  • Only a limited portion of the project will be visible when there are no leaves on the trees and the rest of the year, vegetation will largely screen the site.
  • The project can only be seen from very limited locations that are publicly accessible.
  • Some portion of the project will be visible during the winter when leaves are off the trees but the scale, color, dimension, and type of land use is consistent with and not in sharp contrast to the scenic resources and surrounding land uses.
Moderate to Large Impact:

Some examples of moderate to large impacts that might fall into this category are:

  • The site will be very visible all year round and will not be screened by vegetation.
  • The project is viewed by many publicly accessible vantage points.
  • The project results in a land use that is in sharp contrast to surrounding land uses seen from or in the scenic resource.
  • The project is of scale, color, or dimension that will be highly visible from publicly accessible scenic resources.

d. The situation or activity in which viewers are engaged while viewing the proposed action is:

i. Routine travel by residents, including travel to and from work
ii. Recreational or tourism based activities

e. The proposed action may cause a diminishment of the public enjoyment and appreciation of the designated aesthetic resource.

When a proposed project is part of or visible from a scenic or aesthetic resource, it will be viewed by many different people in different circumstances. This question explores whether the project site is in a location that will be viewed on a daily and constant basis by members of the community and/or if it is within a location that also has an important role in recreation or a tourism economy of the area. Both are important and changes to scenic and aesthetic resources may have adverse impacts on both the quality of life of residents and broader economic impacts.

Applicable Part 1 Information

E.3.h., E.2.q., and E.1.c.

Analysis

  • How often will members of the community view the project site?
  • Is the project site in or viewed from a scenic or aesthetic resource that is important to recreation in the area or to tourism?
    • If so, how?
  • How will that project site change the use or perception about that scenic resource?

Will there be an impact?

If the project site is not visible from or within a scenic or aesthetic resource, it will not have any related impacts. Check 'No, or small impact may occur.'

Small Impact:

Some examples of small projects that might fall into this category are:

  • The project site is visible from minor roads used by a limited number of local residents only and is not part of a recreational or tourism related activity.
  • A limited portion of the project site is visible, but because it is not in sharp contrast to the scenic resource or surrounding land uses, there will be no diminishment of the designated resource.
Moderate to Large Impact:

Some examples of moderate to large impacts that might fall into this category are:

  • The project site is visible from major roads and highly traveled routes used by many residents and visitors.
  • The project site is visible from, is in, or obstructs a scenic resource that plays a key role as part of a recreational or tourist asset of the community.
  • The project site is visible and because it is in sharp contrast to the scenic resource and surrounding land uses, will significantly reduce enjoyment and appreciation of the scenic resource.

f. There are similar projects visible within the following distance of the proposed project:

0-1/2 mile
½ -3 mile
3-5 mile
5+ mile

Similar projects include those of the same use, but also of similar scale, context, dimensions, density, design, or location.

Applicable Part 1 Information

D.1.a., E.1.a., D.1.f., and D.1.g.

Analysis

  • How many land uses are similar to the proposed project?
  • How far away are those similar projects?
  • How are the land uses similar?
    • Scale, color, intensity of use, type of land use, height or other bulk dimensions, size of lot, or cover type?
  • If there are no other similar users will the proposed use be in sharp contrast to the overall landscape?

Will there be an impact?

If the proposed project is similar to multiple developments or projects in the area in terms of scale, context, dimensions, density, design, and location, then it is not likely to have any impacts to scenic or aesthetic resources. The reviewing agency will need to decide however, what the threshold is for how many other similar projects may be visible. That depends solely on the context of the community. The reviewing agency will need to determine a threshold for what would constitute no impact for this question. When a scenic or aesthetic resource is being evaluated it is likely that some impact may occur even though there are many similar projects in the area.

Small Impact:

Some examples of small projects that might fall into this category are:

  • The project is fully or partially visible, but there are other land uses of similar scale, design, density, dimension, or location both nearby and far away so that the context of the scenic resource does not change.
Moderate to Large Impact:

Some examples of moderate to large impacts that might fall into this category are:

  • The project is visible, but there are none or very few other land uses of similar scale, design, density, dimension, or location nearby so that the context of the scenic resource changes and the proposed activity will be in sharp contrast to existing resources.

g. 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 10 Impact on Historic and Archeological Resources


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