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Examples - Full EAF - (Part 3)

Full Environmental Assessment Form (FEAF)

Part 3 - Determination of significance

Example 1

Proposed activity: A business park complex is proposed consisting of multiple buildings, parking lots, and accessory structures totaling 150,000 square foot of building space. It is proposed to be located in a mixed commercial/residential zoning district on a forty acre parcel. The area is currently a mix of agriculture, residential or vacant parcels. The parcel is in a New York State Agricultural District. The total area of land to be disturbed is 15 acres. There is no potable water or sewer available on the parcel, but they are available nearby and could be extended to the parcel. There is access directly to a state highway. There is a Class C (t) stream and heavily wooded stream bank located at the rear of the parcel. There is no regulated floodplain in this location. This stream flows nearby to a larger, state-regulated wetland and the entire area is used in the winter by Bald Eagles for feeding and resting.

  • Using information from Part 1, the Planning Board has answered questions 1 through 18 on Part 2.
  • Using the Part 2 tools, the Planning Board determined that there would be no impact to the environmental resources evaluated in Questions 2, 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 12, 14, 16, and 17. These were all checked as "no or small impact may occur" on Part 2.
  • However, the Planning Board determined that questions 1,3, 7, 8, 9, 13, 15, and 18 would need further evaluation in Part 3 because they identified the following impacts that could potentially be moderate to large. The project may:
    • result in increased erosion that would impact the stream and wetland with turbidity, including downstream locations;
    • impact the bank of the stream and remove important streamside vegetation;
    • require construction of a new wastewater treatment facility or expansion and connection to one that is several miles away that could serve the location;
    • impact an endangered species and its habitat;
    • result in a loss of farmland and prime farmland soils;
    • change community character because the project is in sharp contrast to the land use patterns and intensity currently found in the area;
    • create a traffic issue by creating left turn traffic where there is currently no traffic management needed at that location; and
    • result in glare or light pollution due to lighting in parking lots, signs, and internal roadways.

After further review, the Planning Board found:

The Planning Board evaluated the magnitude, duration, likelihood and importance of those potential impacts within the context of the community. They decided:

  1. There is a high likelihood that erosion and impacts to the stream and its wetlands may occur due to the land disturbances and ongoing stormwater runoff. The Planning Board also felt that removal of vegetation along the stream would likely affect the stream quality and wildlife habitats long term. In the context of the site and community these were deemed significant adverse impacts.
  2. Because either new wastewater or expanded wastewater facilities were needed, that would affect the broader community long-term. It would impact many people and the Board was concerned that either creation or expansion of water and sewer facilities would be growth inducing that would in the long-term, attract other business projects that could further impact the stream and character of the area.
  3. It was recognized that prime farmland was definitely going to be lost, but given the parcel is in an area zoned for mixed/residential use, the impacts were small and would not impede farmers from using other lands for agriculture.
  4. Although the proposed buildings were architecturally consistent with others in the area, the Planning Board decided that the project would introduce a land use much larger than any other in the area, and that the aesthetic and community character impacts were likely to occur, large because it affected the entire area, and of critical importance to the community. The community had identified community character as one of its most important values to preserve in its comprehensive plan.
  5. Addition of more traffic was determined to be a large impact, of long-term duration, and very important. However, the project included a left hand turning lane and stop light to control congestion so the Board did not think this was significant.
  6. Glare and light pollution could also change community character but the project included use of fully shielded light fixtures that the Board felt would mitigate the impacts.

As a result of this analysis, the Planning Board decided that of the impacts identified from Part 2, the Part 3 analysis resulted in identification of impact on stormwater, erosion, loss of habitat, growth inducing aspects of the project and changes to community character as significant impacts that have not been mitigated and needed further analysis. They decided that an environmental impact statement would be required and that the scope of that would be limited to topics 1, 2 and 4 (erosion, induced growth, and architecture).

An appropriate Part 3 statement for this example would be:

The Planning Board determined that potential moderate to large impacts could occur related to land disturbance (erosion and stormwater), changes in use and intensity of use, traffic, loss of important habitats, and impacts on the stream. The action will be a more intense land use, will create traffic issues, could impact stream habitats and a regulated wetland downstream, and could change community character.

After analysis, the Planning Board decided that loss of agriculture was not significant. It was recognized that prime farmland was definitely going to be lost, but given the parcel is in an area zoned for mixed/residential use, the impacts were small and would not impede farmers from using other lands for agriculture. Also, traffic and lighting impacts were not significant because the glare and light pollution that may result is mitigated by use of fully shielded light fixtures. Although the addition of more traffic was determined to be a large impact and of long-term duration, provision of a left hand turning lane and stop light to control congestion mitigated these impacts, so the Board determined traffic impacts were not significant.

The Planning Board determined that other impacts however would be moderate to large in magnitude, mostly long-term, and probably will occur. There is a high likelihood that erosion and impacts to the stream and its wetlands may occur due to the land disturbances and ongoing stormwater runoff. The Planning Board determined that removal of vegetation along the stream would likely affect the stream quality and wildlife habitats long term. New wastewater or expanded wastewater facilities would affect the broader community long-term. Such infrastructure would impact many people and are likely to be growth inducing by attracting other business projects that could further impact the stream and character of the area.

Although the proposed buildings were architecturally consistent with others in the area, the Planning Board determined that the project would introduce a land use much larger than any other in the area, and that the aesthetic and community character impacts were likely to occur, would be large because it affected the entire area, and that district is of critical importance to the community and its character.

As a result of this analysis, topics 1, 2, and 4 have been determined to be potentially significant impacts. There is not adequate information or analysis on those impacts or how they could be mitigated. In the context of the site and community these topics (1, 2, and 4) were deemed significant adverse impacts.

Therefore, the Planning Board has determined that there is likely to be adverse environmental impacts to the elements that were identified. namely to stream ecology and water quality, to the community long-term through growth inducement, and to significant potential changes to community character. An environmental impact statement oriented to these topics is therefore necessary.

The planning board then checks and completes section C. on the last page of the FEAF.

Example 2

Proposed activity: Adoption of a comprehensive plan in a rural community aimed at preserving open space, rural character, and farmland. The community is suburbanizing and has experienced much residential and business growth over the past decade. There has subsequently been a loss of open space, a need for more recreation, a lack of pedestrian opportunities, and changes in community character. The proposed plan is oriented around methods to improve community character and aesthetics, promote traditional style neighborhoods, preserve open space, and to change business zoning districts to encourage infill development.

After further review, the Planning Board found:

The Town Board evaluated all 18 sections of Part 2.

An appropriate Part 3 statement for this example would be:

The proposed comprehensive plan is designed to meet a variety of goals established by the Town. The Plan recommends potential regulatory changes, capital improvements, and policy/program initiatives.

The Plan offers a roadmap to regulate growth and development so that the Town's character is maintained. The new Plan should itself be viewed as mitigation against the adverse impacts of future development on environmental resources. Its main focus is to guide new development in a manner that will enhance the community in the future to foster environmental sustainability.

The proposed Plan seeks to protect the environment through use of conservation subdivisions, reduction in density, design standards, and improvements to the site plan law.

All new development has the potential to impact water resources, but the proposed Plan, if implemented reduces that potential. Lower density will lower the overall demand for water and will also serve to reduce the potential negative impacts of new septic systems.

Major strategies included in the proposed Plan are specifically directed at preserving plants, animals, and biodiversity and include use of conservation subdivisions, stream buffers, mapping and prohibition of construction in a 100 year floodway (these are also critical riparian habitats), and protection of wetlands, natural landscapes, and steep slopes. These strategies will be protective or plants and animals because habitats will be preserved. Thus the new Plan if implemented will benefit the environment and would not be expected to have any significant adverse environmental impacts.

Future growth and development of houses, businesses, and new roads in the future could reduce natural areas currently available for plants and animals. Projects that may come before the town may individually or cumulatively affect plants and animals. However, the proposed Plan helps the Town to manage and reduce overall growth potential by decreasing development capacity to a level that is more environmentally sustainable, especially related to water capacity.

The proposed plan establishes many strategies directed at protecting aesthetic resources. Community character is recognized by the Town as one of the primary resources desired to be protected. However, the Town recognizes that future growth and development will likely bring about some changes to the aesthetic character. The proposed plan allows the Town to more effectively review, manage and reduce impacts through a reduction in overall growth potential. The plan establishes new standards that require careful siting of structures with respect to open spaces, scenic views, and agriculture - all of which contribute to the aesthetic resources of the Town. Therefore, impacts will be less under the proposed plan than if the Town did not adopt them.

The proposed plan recommends use of conservation subdivisions, siting of building envelopes, permanent protection of open spaces on large developments along with creation of greenways and links for pedestrians, and other programs. Additional development may also increase the need for public water or sewer in certain locations which could have adverse impacts to the Town and its residents. This potential impact is offset by the maintenance of open space, farms, and environmental resources.

Subsequent housing and business development could generate additional traffic. Additional business development, along with related traffic could change traffic flow and lead to congestion. Any new road built could involve the disturbance of land, removal of trees and loss of habitats, and changes in stormwater. These are all potentially impacting. However, the proposed land use development standards recommended in the plan includes those designed to give the Town the ability to identify and mitigate traffic impacts. Thus, future growth will be better managed and transportation impacts reduced by adoption of the proposed plan.

The intent of the Comprehensive Plan is to protect the very factors that make the town an attractive place to live and work - character being a prime component. The proposed plan achieves this through a balanced approach that focuses on appropriate scale and location of development, conserves open spaces and working landscapes, and encourages economic development that is appropriate to the needs and scale/design .

The magnitude, importance, duration, and scale of adverse impacts related to adoption of the Comprehensive Plan are small. The town finds that adoption of and then subsequent implementation of the recommendations in the plan would have positive impacts on the environment and would serve to decrease or mitigate future negative impacts that may result from development. As such, the Board concludes that adoption of the plan will not have adverse impacts and therefore an environmental impact statement shall not be prepared.

The town board then checks A. on the last page of the FEAF, issuing a negative declaration (Neg. Dec.) for the action.

Example 3

Proposed activity: A 60-lot subdivision is planned on a 200-acre vacant lot in a suburban area that does not have public water, sewer and stormwater facilities. The area is zoned for residential use, is similar to other subdivisions in the area, and has adequate street access and road capacity. The subdivision is designed as a conservation subdivision where the homes will be clustered on 60-acres and a conservation easement will permanently protect the remainder of the parcel for open space for active and passive recreation for the residents. Clustering the homes will allow easier provision of water and sewer to the residences. Water wells would be drilled and a small package plant provided. Low impact development methods such as bioswales and rain gardens will be used to control stormwater. There are no wetlands, streams, or other natural resources of concern.

  • Using information from Part 1, the Planning Board has answered questions 1 through 18 on Part 2.
  • Using the Part 2 tools, the Board determined that there would be no impact to some environmental resources but they determined that there may be moderate to large impacts related to questions 3 and 4 (surface water and groundwater). This was because new water supply wells would need to be provided and require the construction of a new wastewater treatment plant.
  • If needed, look at DOH website for public health law definition of realty subdivision.

After further review, the Planning Board found:

  1. There are adequate water supplies, and groundwater quality or quantity would not be affected as determined through test wells showing adequate capacity and high quality potable water. Further, the Health Department tests show soils on site are supportive for individual septic systems as proposed.
  2. Erosion control methods will be used during construction to minimize erosion.
  3. The developer has included plans for a community sewer system to serve the new residences. This system has been approved by the Department of Health and DEC, and the Planning Board found only short-term, minor impacts due to the land disturbance and construction of the homes, water facilities, and sewer systems.

As a result of this analysis, the Planning Board has decided that the impacts will be avoided or mitigated and thus small in magnitude and unlikely to occur. Given the context of this project in an area of similar scaled and dense residential subdivisions, the Board did not find any impacts that they considered important. They made a determination that the project was not significant and would not need further analysis in an EIS.

An appropriate Part 3 statement for this example would be:

Potential impacts to surface and ground waters were identified as moderate to large because new water supply wells and a wastewater treatment facility would be needed. The project is designed to protect a significant portion of the parcel as open space. Impacts to groundwater were determined to be not significant because testing showed there are ample groundwater resources available and water quality met all standards. Further, erosion measures will be put in place to control runoff during construction, and the project will incorporate low impact development standards so there will be no increase in runoff. Impacts related to construction of a water and sewer system to serve the residences were found to have small impacts that would occur mostly during the construction phase. Further, impacts of that infrastructure would not be growth inducing since the area was already similarly dense and not likely to induce other growth. Given the scale and context, the Planning Board determined there would be no significant adverse impacts and no EIS will be required.

The planning board then checks A. on the last page of the FEAF, issuing a negative declaration (Neg. Dec.) for the action.

Example 4

Proposed activity: A non-retail commercial use already located and operating wants to expand. The proposal is to add more parking spaces and enlarge the structure to accommodate an increase in the number of employees by 25 percent. The project is located along a local town road and there will be additional commuter and truck delivery traffic. The facility depends on a drilled well for water supply and an onsite septic system for wastewater disposal. The Health Department has determined there is capacity to accommodate the additional employees. Surrounding land uses include vacant lands and single-family residences. The project design includes construction of the new parking lot that will use crushed gravel instead of asphalt, will include shielded lighting fixtures to be placed in landscaped planting islands, and a vegetated berm between the parking lot and the road to screen views of some of the parking lot. New drainage and erosion controls designed according to a DEC approved stormwater pollution prevention plan are also planned. To accommodate additional cars and trucks, the applicant has also included a re-design of the local road.

  • Using information from Part 1, the Planning Board has answered questions 1 through 18 on Part 2.
  • Using the Part 2 tools, the Planning Board determined that there would be no impact to some environmental resources but they determined that the impacts to 3 (surface water), 13 (traffic) and 15 (light) could potentially be moderate to large.

After further review, the Planning Board found:

  1. There is ample acreage on the parcel to accommodate these enlargements.
  2. A 25 foot forested buffer already exists on all sides of the parcel except along the road frontage, so screening of the facility will be maintained.
  3. Stormwater runoff will be mitigated by use of pervious surfaces in the parking lot and new stormwater control facilities.
  4. There will likely be issues handling the anticipated additional commuter and delivery truck traffic, but that these will be mitigated by the road redesign. The design has been approved by the local highway department.
  5. The aesthetics of the parking lot will be improved due to placement of landscaped islands.
  6. Lighting fixtures will be shielded so no glare will occur on neighboring properties.
  7. The community has a comprehensive plan that seeks to maintain rural character, but also recognizes the need for jobs in the area and encourages re-use of existing buildings.

After this analysis, the Planning Board decided that the magnitude of the project was large, that the impacts to changes in intensity and traffic would be long-term, but are unlikely to occur because of the mitigation included in the project design. Given the scale and context of the proposed project, the Planning Board determined there would be not be significant impacts.

An appropriate Part 3 statement for this example would be:

The Planning Board has evaluated the magnitude, duration, likelihood, scale and context of the project and has decided that the potential impacts could be large in magnitude because it could change the character of the area, increase the intensity of land use in a rural community, and impact roads and traffic.

However, because the use already exists, and because the project includes features such as use of a pervious parking lot surface, screening, new landscaping, use of shielded lights, incorporation of erosion and stormwater control devices, and a redesign of the road to accommodate traffic, the impacts are adequately mitigated as follows:

There is ample acreage on the parcel to accommodate these enlargements. A 25 foot forested buffer already exists on all sides of the parcel except along the road frontage, so screening of the facility will be maintained. Stormwater runoff will be mitigated by use of pervious surfaces in the parking lot and new stormwater control facilities. There will likely be issues handling the anticipated additional commuter and delivery truck traffic, but that these will be mitigated by the road redesign. The design has been approved by the local highway department. The aesthetics of the parking lot will be improved due to placement of landscaped islands. Lighting fixtures will be shielded so no glare will occur on neighboring properties. The community has a comprehensive plan that seeks to maintain rural character, but also recognizes the need for jobs in the area and encourages re-use of existing buildings.

Short-term impacts may occur during construction, but in light of the scale and context of the project area, is seen as a small impact. As a result of the project design the Planning Board has determined that significant adverse impacts are unlikely to occur and will not require preparation of an environmental impact statement.

The planning board then checks A. on the last page of the FEAF, issuing a negative declaration (Neg. Dec.) for the action.


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