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Q. 2, Short EAF (Part 2) Land Use

Short Environmental Assessment Form Workbook

Will the proposed action result in a change in the use or intensity of use of land?


This question asks the lead agency to review two related but different aspects of the proposed action: a change in the use of the land, and a change in the intensity of the use of the land. A change in land use could, but does not always result in a change in intensity.

An example of when a change in the use of land would occur is when an agricultural field is converted to an office park or a housing development. A change in intensity of land use could occur when the number of employees in an office building changes, traffic increases, an apartment building is expanded to accommodate more housing units than previously existed, or a municipal park is converted to another municipal use - such as a town hall. A change in intensity is highly influenced by the local context. Some changes in intensity will have very little impact, while a change in intensity in other places could be very significant.

Changes in use and intensity of use usually have some impact on the environment. These impacts could be experienced during construction when the land is cleared and graded, or they may be experienced when the project is complete, and new residents begin using the municipal water supply. The following sections offer guidance on how to identify and evaluate these potential adverse impacts.

Applicable Part 1 Information

Some of the Part 1 questions that should be specifically reviewed when answering this question are:


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

  • Are there similar land uses in the surrounding area, or will the project introduce a new land use that does not currently exist?
  • Are there proposed changes to existing buildings?
  • Will the existing road system be able to handle the increase in traffic, or the type of vehicles the project will need to accommodate?
  • Will there be a higher level of noise or light generated?
  • Does the project involve selling or changing public parkland to a different use?
  • Other topics explored in the SEAF are related to changes in land use or intensity of land use. Be sure to also review information on any new transportation systems that may be proposed, new or expanded public services such as public water supplies or waste water treatment facilities, changes in stormwater discharges or the need for new stormwater management facilities, or changes in habitats or land cover types. All of these may occur when there is a change in land use or intensity of land use.

Will there be an impact?

Most proposed actions will result in some change in land use or intensity of land use. There are probably very few that will result in no change at all. One example might be the transfer of ownership of an existing open space property between a municipality and a not-for-profit organization. If the plan is for the land to remain as an open space parcel with the same level of use, there will be no change in its use or intensity of use, and therefore, no impact. Another example might be the subdivision of a commercial property that already has multiple buildings on it. If the plan is for the number of buildings to remain the same, and the use of those buildings will not change, then there will be no impact.

If there is any change proposed to the existing land use, then there may be an impact, and this impact must be evaluated as to its size. If the proposed action is for the land use to remain the same, but to increase the size of the use, or the level of activity of the use, then there will be a change, and the impact must be evaluated.

If there is an impact, how big will it be?

If there will be an impact, the reviewing agency must then evaluate the magnitude of that impact. 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. For additional information on the concept of reasonableness as it applies to SEQR, refer to section F in the Introduction of the SEQR Handbook (PDF) (1.9MB).

Small Impact

If the change in land use is consistent in size with the surrounding development patterns, does not introduce a new land use to the area, create a need for new transportation, water, or wastewater infrastructure, eliminate any important habitat types, and handle all stormwater runoff onsite or with existing infrastructure, there may only be a small impact.

Moderate to Large Impact

If the scale of the proposed land use is significantly different from surrounding land uses, it may have a moderate to large impact.

Recording your decision

If you have determined that there are no impacts, or that only a small impact may occur, no further analysis of this topic is needed. Simply check the box under "No, or small impact may occur" next to the question and move on to Question 3. You may choose to include an explanation in Part 3 as to why you decided there were no, or only small impacts, but you are not required to do so.

If you have determined that one or more moderate to large impacts may occur, then additional analysis of this impact will be required in Part 3. You should note what the impacts are, and the reasoning that lead to your decision before moving on to Question 3.


Scenario 1: A six unit subdivision in an already suburbanized area

  • Parcel sizes are consistent with the surrounding developed parcels
  • The existing water and sewer infrastructure can handle the additional load
  • Stormwater runoff will tie in with existing stormwater management facilities

Then: The proposed action will change the use of the subdivided parcel, but will not change the intensity of use of the neighborhood as a whole. There will likely be a small impact on the intensity of land use.

Scenario 2: A commercial use will remain the same type, but increase the number of employees by 25 percent

  • It is located in an urban area
  • There is access to public transportation
  • Water supply, and sewer service will be provided through existing municipal infrastructure

Then: The proposed action will increase the intensity of land use, but the impact will be small.

Scenario 3: A commercial use will remain the same type, but increase the number of employees by 25 percent

  • It is located in a rural area
  • along a local road that will have difficulty handling the anticipated additional commuter and delivery truck traffic without substantial improvements
  • depends on a drilled well for water supply and an onsite septic system for wastewater disposal

Then: The proposed action will increase the intensity of land use, and may result in a moderate to large impact

Back to Part 2 Impact Assessment || Continue to Question 3 (Part 2)

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