City of Buffalo, NY
Erie County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Common Council of the City of Buffalo 9-16-1997, effective 9-26-1997; amended in its entirety 2-17-1998, effective 3-6-1998. Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
A. 
This chapter shall be known as the "Environmental Review Ordinance."
B. 
This chapter is enacted pursuant to Article 8 of the New York Environmental Conservation Law and 6 NYCRR 617, State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) regulations.
C. 
The basic purpose of this chapter is to incorporate the consideration of environmental factors into the existing planning, review and decisionmaking processes of the City at the earliest possible time. To accomplish this goal, this chapter requires that all agencies determine whether the actions they directly undertake, fund or approve may have a significant impact on the environment and, if it is determined that the action may have a significant adverse impact, prepare or request an environmental impact statement.
D. 
This chapter shall supplement 6 NYCRR 617. Where there is a conflict between this chapter and 6 NYCRR 617, 6 NYCRR 617 shall supersede this chapter.
A. 
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the following meanings:
(1) 
Projects or physical activities, such as construction or other activities that may affect the environment by changing the use, appearance or condition of any natural resource or structure that are directly undertaken by an agency; or involve funding by an agency or require one or more new or modified approvals from any agency or agencies;
(2) 
Agency planning and policy making activities that may affect the environment and commit the agency to a definite course of future decisions;
(3) 
Adoption of agency rules, regulations and procedures, including local laws, codes, ordinances, executive orders and resolutions that may affect the environment; and
(4) 
Any combination of the above.
AGENCY
A state or local governmental unit, including but not limited to the Common Council, departments, divisions, agencies, commissions, boards and officers.
APPROVAL
A discretionary decision by an agency to issue a permit, certificate, license, lease or other entitlement or to otherwise authorize a proposed project or activity.
CITY
The City of Buffalo.
ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT FORM (EAF)
A form used by an agency to assist it in determining the environmental significance or nonsignificance of actions. A properly completed EAF must contain enough information to describe the proposed action, its location, its purpose and its potential impacts on the environment.
ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT (EIS)
A written document which provides a means for agencies, project sponsors and the public to systematically consider significant adverse environmental impacts, alternatives and mitigation. An EIS facilitates the weighing of social, economic and environmental factors early in the planning and decisionmaking process.
LEAD AGENCY
An agency principally responsible for undertaking, funding or approving an action, and therefore responsible for determining whether an environmental impact statement is required in connection with the action and for preparation and filing of the statement if one is required.
NEGATIVE DECLARATION
A written determination by a lead agency that the implementation of the action as proposed will not result in any significant adverse environmental impacts.
POSITIVE DECLARATION
A written statement prepared by the lead agency indicating that implementation of the action as proposed may have a significant adverse impact on the environment and that an environmental impact statement will be required. Positive declarations must be prepared, filed and published in accordance with 6 NYCRR 617.7 and 617.12.
B. 
All other terms shall have the meaning as set forth in 6 NYCRR 617.2.
No agency involved in an action may undertake, fund or approve the action until it has complied with the provisions of SEQR and this chapter. The general rules shall be those found in 6 NYCRR 617.3.
A. 
The purpose of the list of actions identified as Type I is to identify for City agencies, project sponsors and the public those actions that may have a significant adverse impact on the environment and that are more likely to require the preparation of an environmental impact statement than Unlisted actions. This Type I list is not exhaustive. However, the fact that an action or project has been listed as Type I action carries with it the presumption that it is likely to have a significant adverse impact on the environment and may require an EIS. For all individual actions which are Type I or Unlisted, the determination of significance must be made by comparing the impacts which may be reasonably expected to result from the proposed action with the criteria listed in 6 NYCRR 617.7(c).
B. 
The following actions are Type I if they are to be directly undertaken, funded or approved by an agency. The Type I actions on this list are considered more likely to have a significant adverse impact on the environment and may require the preparation of an EIS. Therefore, the procedural requirements for Type I actions are more extensive than those of Unlisted actions.
(1) 
Adoption of a land use plan, zoning regulations, a comprehensive resource management plan, master plan or urban renewal plan.
(2) 
Zoning changes affecting 10 or more acres of an affected district.
(3) 
Granting of a zoning change at the request of an applicant for an action contained in this list.
(4) 
Acquisition, sale, lease or other transfer of 50 or more contiguous acres of land by a City agency.
(5) 
Construction of 1,000 or more residential units.
(6) 
Activities, other than the construction of residential facilities, which meet or exceed any of the following thresholds; or the expansion of existing nonresidential facilities by more than 50% of any of the following thresholds:
(a) 
A project or action which involves the physical alteration of 10 acres.
(b) 
A project or action which would use ground- or surface water in excess of 2,000 gallons per day.
(c) 
Parking of 1,000 vehicles.
(d) 
Construction of a facility with more than 240,000 square feet of gross floor area.
(7) 
Any Unlisted action (unless that action involves replacement in kind to exactly match existing building fabric, or existing historic landscape features, in terms of designs, styles, materials and methods of construction) affecting or occurring wholly, partially within or substantially contiguous to:
(a) 
Any historic district, site, individual building, object or archaeological site that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places or listed on the New York State Register of Historic Places;
(b) 
Any historic district, site, individual building, object or archeological site that has been proposed by the New York State Board on Historic Preservation for a recommendation to the State Historic Preservation Officer for nomination for inclusion in the National Register; or
(c) 
Any individual landmark building, district or site, designated as such under the Buffalo Preservation Code (Chapter 337 of the Code of the City of Buffalo).
(8) 
Any Unlisted action, which exceeds 25% of any threshold in this section, occurring wholly or partially within or substantially contiguous to any publicly owned or operated parkland, recreation area or designated open space [except as provided for in Subsection B(7) of this section, Olmsted Parks and Parkways], including any site on the Register of National Natural Landmarks pursuant to 36 C.F.R. Part 62, 1986.
(9) 
Any Unlisted action which affects or takes place wholly, partially within or substantially contiguous to land within the base floodplain (one-hundred-year), designated wetlands, coastal zones, heavily wooded land or land identified by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation as being a site listed on the New York State Registry of Inactive Hazardous Waste Sites, and which involve the following:
(a) 
Zoning variances, rezonings, site plan reviews, amendments to Master Plans, Planning Board approvals or issuance of a building permit.
(b) 
New road construction.
(c) 
Clear-cutting of trees.
(d) 
New Construction, or a 50% or greater expansion of the following:
[1] 
Commercial facilities.
[2] 
Industrial facilities.
[3] 
Residential units.
[4] 
Public or private utility stations, sewage treatment plants, water facilities, wastewater treatment facilities.
[5] 
Transportation terminals.
[6] 
Parking lots.
[7] 
Health care facilities such as hospitals and nursing homes.
(10) 
Removal of 1/3 or more of all trees along the length of a street frontage, without replacement [except as provided for in Subsection B(7) of this section].
(11) 
Reconstruction of any existing roadway [except as provided for in Subsection B(7) of this section], which would result in:
(a) 
A total widening of the pavement by two or more travel lanes.
(b) 
Any diminution of any unpaved median strip.
(12) 
The construction or 50% or greater expansion of the following types of facilities wholly, partially within or substantially contiguous to a critical floodplain (five-hundred-year):
(a) 
Hospitals, schools, nursing homes, day-care centers, clinics.
(b) 
Liquefied natural gas terminals and facilities producing and storing highly volatile, toxic or water reactive materials.
(c) 
Facilities having emergency services, utilities and irreplaceable records.
(13) 
Any Unlisted action which exceeds a Type I threshold established by an involved agency pursuant to 6 NYCRR 617.14.
A. 
Actions or classes of actions which have been determined not to have a significant adverse impact on the environment are classified as Type II actions. They do not require environmental impact statements or any other determination or procedure under this chapter.
B. 
The following are Type II actions:
(1) 
The maintenance or repair involving no substantial changes in an existing structure or facility.
(2) 
Replacement, rehabilitation or reconstruction of a structure or facility, in kind, on the same site unless such structure or facility meets or exceeds any of the thresholds in (Type I, § 168-4). This includes the replacement of existing building fabric, structural or landscaping features with new fabric which will exactly match existing conditions in terms of materials, methods of construction, styles, designs and all other features.
(3) 
The granting of individual setback and lot line variances.
(4) 
Street openings and right-of-way openings for the purpose of repair or maintenance of existing facilities.
(5) 
Installation of traffic control devices on existing streets, roads and highways.
(6) 
Construction or placement of minor structures accessory or appurtenant to residential structures in accordance with existing zoning regulations, including garages, carports, patios, decks, tennis courts, storage sheds, signage, satellite dishes, home swimming pools, fences, barns or other buildings not changing land use or density, including upgrading of buildings to meet building or fire codes. This provision does not include billboards or communications towers.
(7) 
Maintenance of existing landscaping or natural growth.
(8) 
The disposition, including sale, lease or other transfer of City-owned property, provided that such parcel is less than 50 acres in size.
(9) 
Street maintenance, repair and/or replacement, including:
(a) 
Street milling.
(b) 
Street resurfacing.
(c) 
Chip-sealing.
(d) 
Curb replacement or repair.
(e) 
Street construction within the existing right-of-way not involving widening which would add travel lanes.
(f) 
Street rehabilitation.
(g) 
Sidewalk replacement or repairs.
(h) 
Streetlighting repair.
(i) 
Street replacement.
(j) 
Repaving of existing streets or highways not involving the addition of new travel lanes.
(k) 
Water and sewer line repairs or replacements with minimal change in capacity.
(10) 
Granting of an area variance(s) for a single-family, two-family or three-family residence.
(11) 
Public or private best forest management practices on less than 10 acres of land, but not including waste disposal, land clearing not directly related to forest management, clear-cutting or the application of herbicides or pesticides.
(12) 
Landscaping improvements within the public right-of-way, except as provided in Historic Districts and Olmsted Parks [as per Type I, § 168-4B(7)].
(13) 
Replacement of existing street furniture and play equipment for established parks and playgrounds except as provided Historic Districts and Olmsted Parks [as per Type I, § 168-4B(7)].
(14) 
Permits authorizing the conduct of temporary private activities on the public streets.
(15) 
License agreements for the temporary use of public park property involving groups of less than 1,000 people.
(16) 
Issuance of certificates of occupancy.
(17) 
Mapping of existing roads, streets, highways and uses.
(18) 
Official Street Map amendments of the following nature:
(a) 
Street dedications.
(b) 
Minor right-of-way changes (realignments), including reservations for future widening; and deletion of widening lines.
(c) 
Street naming or name changes.
(d) 
Street abandonments which involve unimproved paper streets.
(19) 
Inspections and licensing activities relating to the qualifications of individuals or businesses to engage in their business or profession.
(20) 
Sales of surplus City property other than real estate.
(21) 
Collective bargaining activities.
(22) 
Investments by or on behalf of City agencies, pension systems or retirement systems.
(23) 
Routine or continuing agency administration and management not including new programs or major reordering of priorities.
(24) 
License, lease and permit renewals or transfer of ownership thereof, where there will be no material change in permit conditions in or the scope of permitted activities.
(25) 
Information collection, including basic data collection and research; master plan study components; water quality and pollution studies; traffic counts; engineering studies; subsurface investigations, surveys and soils studies that do not commit the agency to undertake, fund or approve any Type I or Unlisted action.
(26) 
Official acts of a ministerial nature involving no exercise of discretion, including building permits, and historic preservation permits where issuance is predicated solely on the applicant's compliance or noncompliance with the relevant local building or preservation code(s).
(27) 
Minor temporary uses of land having negligible or no permanent effect on the environment.
(28) 
The extension of utility distribution facilities, including gas, electric, telephone, cable, water and sewer, to render service in approved subdivisions or in connection with any action on this list.
(29) 
Promulgation of regulations, policies, procedures and legislative decisions in connection with any Type II action in this section.
(30) 
Conducting concurrent environmental, engineering, economic feasibility and other studies and preliminary planning and budgetary processes necessary to the formulation of a proposal for action, provided that those activities do not commit the agency to commence, engage in or approve such action.
(31) 
Adoption of regulations, policies, procedures in local legislative decisions in connection with any action on this list.
(32) 
Purchase or sale of furnishings, equipment or supplies, including surplus government property, other than the following: land, radioactive material, pesticides, herbicides or other hazardous materials.
(33) 
Engaging in review of any part of an application to determine compliance with technical requirements, provided that no such determination entitles or permits the project sponsor to commence the action unless and until all requirements of this part have been fulfilled.
(34) 
Civil or criminal enforcement proceedings, whether administrative or judicial, including a particular course of action specifically required to be undertaken pursuant to a judgment or order, or the exercise of prosecutorial discretion.
(35) 
Adoption of a moratorium on land development or construction.
(36) 
Interpreting an existing code, rule or regulation.
(37) 
Designation of local landmarks or their inclusion within historic districts.
(38) 
Emergency actions that are immediately necessary on a limited and temporary basis for the protection or preservation of life, health, property or natural resources, provided that such actions are directly related to the emergency and are performed to cause the least change or disturbance, practicable under the circumstances, to the environment. Any decision to fund, approve or directly undertake other activities after the emergency has expired is fully subject to the review procedures of this chapter.
(39) 
Grandfathered actions as set forth in 6 NYCRR 617.5(c)(34).
Procedures for the initial review of actions shall be as set forth in 6 NYCRR 617.6(a).
[Amended 9-19-2006, effective 10-3-2006]
A. 
Automatic designation of lead agency. For Type I and unlisted actions directly undertaken by the City or Type I and unlisted actions requiring permits or approval when more than one City agency is involved, the lead agency shall automatically be:
(1) 
The City of Buffalo Planning Board for the following actions:
(a) 
Subdivision developments.
(b) 
Site plan review.
(c) 
Landfills.
(d) 
Transit station site plan review.
(2) 
The City of Buffalo Common Council for the following actions:
(a) 
Adoption of, and amendments to, the Charter and Code of the City.
(b) 
Establishment of, and amendments to, urban renewal plans.
(c) 
Establishment of, and amendments to, City Master Plans.
(d) 
Actions undertaken wholly or partially within, or contiguous to, Coastal Special Review Districts (as per Chapter 511 of the Code of the City).
(e) 
Amendment or change in land use and development ordinances and regulations.
(f) 
Planned developments.
(g) 
Cluster developments.
(h) 
Official Street Map amendments.
(i) 
Purchase, sale or lease of City-owned property.
(3) 
The Buffalo Preservation Board for the following actions:
(a) 
Actions occurring only within locally designated historic districts, or affecting individual local landmarks and sites, which require a certificate of appropriateness, or other approval as per Chapter 337, and which involve any of the following:
[1] 
The exterior restoration, renovation or reconstruction of buildings.
[2] 
The construction of exterior building additions.
[3] 
Exterior building demolitions.
[4] 
Construction of new buildings, structures or other facilities and site improvements.
(4) 
The Department of Community Development for the following actions:
(a) 
Issuance of building and demolition permits.
(b) 
Issuance of licenses.
(c) 
Capital budget actions undertaken, or requiring approval, by the Department of Community Development.
(5) 
The Department of Public Works for the following actions:
(a) 
Construction of City-owned buildings and facilities.
(b) 
Renovation, restoration, rehabilitation, alterations of City-owned buildings, facilities and other property.
(c) 
Renovation and expansion of existing or installation of new streetlights, water lines and street furniture.
(d) 
Construction or reconstruction of roads, curbs and sidewalks.
(e) 
Construction, rehabilitation or expansion of parks and park facilities.
(f) 
Actions occurring within local historic districts or affecting local landmarks so designated under Chapter 337, occurring wholly or partially within, or substantially contiguous to, any historic building, structure, district that is listed on or nominated to the National Register of Historic Places or that is listed on the State Register of Historic Places, provided that the Buffalo Preservation Board does not have jurisdiction under Chapter 337 and Subsection A(3) of this section.
(6) 
The Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority for the following actions:
(a) 
All public housing programs under Title I of the United States Housing Act of 1937 in accordance with Section 26 (42 U.S.C. § 1437x) (including mutual help programs).
(b) 
Assistance by the public housing agency under Section VIII of the United States Housing Act of 1937 except for assistance under 24 CFR Part 886 as per Section 26 (42 U.S.C. § 1437x).
(7) 
The Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency for the following actions:
(a) 
Actions involving funding by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD);.
B. 
Where there is no automatic designation, or in the event of a conflict between or among those entities with rights to automatic designation under this chapter or when multiple entities may claim automatic designation pursuant to this chapter, the procedures as set forth in 6 NYCRR 617.6(b) shall be followed.
A. 
Whenever a full environmental assessment form is required, the designated lead agency shall promptly notify the EMC; notification shall include submission of a completed Part I EAF.
B. 
The EMC shall be incorporated into all SEQR notification and review procedures as set forth in 6 NYCRR 617.12.
Procedures and criteria for determining significance shall be those set forth in 6 NYCRR 617.7.
The scoping process shall be as set forth in 6 NYCRR 617.8.
The procedures for preparing an environmental impact statement (EIS) shall be as set forth in 6 NYCRR 617.9(a). The content of EIS's shall be as set forth in 6 NYCRR 617.9(b).
The description, purpose and procedures for generic EIS's shall be as set forth in 6 NYCRR 617.10.
Decisionmaking and finding requirements shall be as set forth in 6 NYCRR 617.11.
Document preparation, filing, publication and distribution requirements shall be as set forth in 6 NYCRR 617.12.
Fees and costs for the preparation and review of draft and final EIS's shall be as set forth in 6 NYCRR 617.13.