Wednesday, May 24, 2017

More Latitude For Utility Company Work In Wetlands Sought

APA Building in Ray Brook NYThe Adirondack Park Agency (APA) has requested public comment on proposed general permit 2017-G1 entitled “Access to and Replacement of Utility Poles in Wetlands.” The draft general permit renews General Permit P2014G-2. The general permit would expedite APA approval for qualifying activities.

The APA will accept public comments until June 23, 2017. The General Permit 2017-G1 application and APA Board Resolution and Order are available for download from the Agency’s website.

The Adirondack Park Agency is proposing General Permit 2017G-1 to renew General Permit 2014-2, which authorizes regional and municipal utility companies to access and replace utility poles in wetlands and/or to establish temporary structures in wetlands to access utility poles in the Adirondack Park. The general permit will only apply where:

· The sole basis of Agency jurisdiction on the project site is fill or substantial impairment to the functions and values of a wetland incidental to the replacement of a utility pole or the establishment of a temporary structure for access to a utility pole;
· The replacement pole will be located within the existing utility company right-of-way or fee ownership;
· The project will not result in an increase in the number of utility poles in wetlands; and
· The project will be undertaken by a regional or municipal utility company.

This General Permit will contain conditions to ensure that the access to and replacement of utility poles will not adversely impact wetlands.

The General Permit has been in use for three years, and was used 16 times in 2016. Based on the level of use and staff’s satisfaction that it streamlines the environmental review process while still ensuring protection of the environment, staff believe that renewal of this general permit is appropriate.

The sole change in the General Permit is that it will not expire until revoked or modified by the Agency.

General Permit 2017G-1 will apply throughout the Adirondack Park and will be effective until revoked or modified by the Agency.

Pursuant to Article 24 of the Environmental Conservation Law (the Freshwater Wetlands Act), Executive Law §§ 809(2)(a) and 810(1) (the Adirondack Park Agency Act), and 9 NYCRR §§ 570.2, 578.2(a), and 578.3(n)(1) and (2), within the Adirondack Park, any form of filling or any other activity that substantially impairs the functions served by or the benefits derived from freshwater wetlands is a “regulated activity” requiring a permit from the Agency. Replacing utility poles in wetlands when stone ballast is added to the new hole and placing temporary structures such as bog matting in wetlands constitute fill, and may also substantially impair the functions and values of wetlands.

Agency staff have determined that all activities authorized under this General Permit and undertaken as authorized: will meet the criteria for approval established in Executive Law § 809; and will secure the natural benefits of wetlands consistent with the general welfare and beneficial economic, social, and agricultural development of the state.

Renewal of a General Permit by the Agency is a Type 2 action under SEQRA. No further action under SEQRA is required.

All persons and agencies are invited to comment on this proposed General Permit in writing or by email no later than June 23, 2017.

Submit comment to:

Richard E. Weber III
Deputy Director, Regulatory Programs
Adirondack Park Agency
PO Box 99
Ray Brook, NY 12977

If there is significant concern or opposition to this General Permit, a public hearing may be required.

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