[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Lewiston 10-7-1991 by L.L. No. 5-1991 (Ch. 8C of the 1965 Code). Amendments noted where applicable.]
Editor's Note: Former Ch. 8C, Environmental Quality Review, adopted 3-26-1979 by L.L. No. 2-1979, was repealed 10-7-1991 by L.L. No. 6-1991.
The preservation and improvement of the quality of the natural and man-made environment within the Town of Lewiston in the face of population growth, urbanization and technological change, with their accompanying demands on natural resources, are found to be of increasing and vital importance to the health, welfare and economic well-being of present and future inhabitants and require forthright action by the governing body of the Town of Lewiston. It is recognized that the biological integrity of the natural and functional beauty of our surroundings which condition the quality of our life experience cannot be protected without the full cooperation and participation of all the people of the Town working in partnership with local and state officials and with various public and private institutions, agencies and organizations. Establishment of a conservation advisory council is a necessary step in fostering unified action on environmental problems.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- COASTAL ZONE
- Coastal waters and shorelands influenced by each other, including transitional areas, freshwater marshes and meadows, hydrogeologic systems related to coastal waters and all terrestrial areas which have direct and immediate impact upon coastal waters and environments. The coastal zone extends outward to the international boundary line in the Niagara River and extends inland from the shoreland to the extent necessary to control land uses which may have a direct and immediate impact on coastal waters and environments.
- ENVIRONMENTAL INCOMPATIBILITY OR PROBLEM
- That which results when either two natural environmental situations or a natural environmental situation and a man-made development are not capable of existing together in harmony, i.e., a natural or man-made usage of land, air or water which is inconsistent with the capability of the environment to sustain such activity without detrimental environmental impact.
- MAN-MADE DEVELOPMENT
- An event, occurrence or situation initiated or precipitated by man which involves the alteration of land, air or water, resulting in substantial impact on the environment.
- NATURAL ENVIRONMENTAL SITUATION
- Factual conditions which exist or occur in the environment and which have been initiated or precipitated by natural events without human intervention.
The Town Board of the Town of Lewiston hereby creates a conservation advisory council which shall be known as the "Town of Lewiston Environmental Commission" (hereinafter called the "Commission").
The Commission shall consist of seven members who shall be appointed by the Town Board and the additional ex officio members as provided in Subsection B below. The term of office shall be one year for two of the appointed members, two years for two of the appointed members and three years for three of the appointed members of the initial Commission. All successive terms shall be for a period of three years. Persons residing within the Town of Lewiston who are interested in the improvement and preservation of environmental quality shall be eligible for appointment as a member of the Commission. Vacancies on the Commission shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointment, except that a vacancy occurring other than by the expiration of term of office shall be filled only for the remainder of the unexpired term. For persons hereunder appointed who take office before January 1, 1992, the period of time between the term and January 1, 1990, shall be added to the term of office.
A liaison member from the Town Board, a member of the Planning Board, a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals, the Zoning Enforcement Officer and the Environmental Enforcement Officer shall be ex officio members of the Commission. Ex officio members shall not be entitled to vote at meetings of the Commission.
The Town Board shall annually appoint a member of the Commission to act as Chairman and Vice Chairman respectively thereof. The Commission shall adopt rules and procedures for its meetings. It shall keep accurate records of its meetings and activities and shall file an annual report as provided in § 19-8 of this chapter. The Town Board shall provide a Clerk who shall be in attendance at all meetings to assist the Commission in its recordkeeping responsibilities.
The powers and duties of the Commission shall be to:
Monitor the environment in a watchguard capacity and, if need be, investigate and report on any environmental incompatibilities or problems that might endanger the environment of the Town of Lewiston, its natural beauty or the well-being of its residents in accordance with § 19-7 of this chapter.
Advise the Town Board on matters affecting the preservation, development and use of the natural and man-made features and conditions of the Town insofar as quality, biological integrity, beauty and other environmental factors are concerned. In the case of man's activities and developments, advise on any major threats posed to the environment or to the people of the Town.
Conduct and maintain an inventory of the natural resources within the Town of Lewiston.
Maintain an up-to-date index of all open spaces, as defined in § 239-y of the General Municipal Law, in public or private ownership within the Town, including but not limited to natural landmarks, glacial and other geomorphic or physiographic features; streams and their floodplains, swamps, marshlands and other wetlands; unique biotic communities; scenic and other open areas of natural or ecological value. Such index shall include the ownership of and the present and proposed uses of such open areas, so as to provide a base of information for recommendations by the Commission for their preservation or use.
Seek to coordinate and assist the efforts of private groups, institutions and individuals within the Town of Lewiston in accord with the purposes of this chapter.
Maintain liaison and communications with public and private agencies and community organizations whose programs and activities have an impact on the quality of the environmental or who can be of assistance to the Commission.
Working in cooperation with the Planning Board, recommend, from time to time, to the Town Board features, plans and programs relating to environmental improvement for inclusion in the master plan of the Town of Lewiston and, similarly, recommend to the Town Board appropriate and desirable changes in existing local laws and ordinances relating to environmental and land use controls or recommend new local laws and ordinances.
Prepare, print and distribute books, maps, charts and pamphlets in accord with the purpose of this chapter.
Obtain and maintain in orderly fashion maps, reports, books and other publications to support the research and investigation of the Commission into local environmental conditions, such materials to be housed in the Office of the Environmental Enforcement Officer.
When authorized by resolution of the Town Board of the Town of Lewiston, the Commission may accept, by gift, grant, devise, bequest or otherwise, property, both real and personal, in the name of the Town of Lewiston, as may be necessary to conserve and otherwise properly utilize open spaces and other land and water resources within the boundaries of the Town of Lewiston. Such real property may be accepted in fee for land and water rights or as any lesser interest, development right, easement, including conservation easement, covenant or other contractual right, including conveyance with limitations or reversions.
Carry out such other duties as may be assigned from time to time by the Town Board and as may be permitted under the laws of New York State.
Exercise, without limitation, all such other powers as shall be vested, from time to time, in conservation advisory councils under the laws and regulations of the State of New York.
Management of all aspects of coastal zone matters shall hereafter be under the jurisdiction of this Commission.
Upon its own initiation or upon the request of the Chairman, two or more members of the Commission or the Town Board, the Commission shall commence an investigation of possible environmental incompatibility or problem and any possible avenues of remedy or resolution.
In conducting such an investigation, the Commission shall commence, as often as necessary, and may utilize, but not be limited to the following:
Applications for building, coastal zone, freshwater wetlands, public improvement or other permits.
Statements submitted by the owner or agent of the owner of the subject development and statements submitted by interested Town residents.
In addition to the evidence allowed by Subsection B above, the Commission may hold a hearing or hearings for the purpose of taking additional evidence. For this reason, the Commission may, with the advice and counsel of the Attorney for the Town, issue subpoenas to compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of books and documents and may also administer oath and compel witnesses to testify. The Commission, by resolution, shall designate one of its members to sign and issue subpoenas.
In the event that the Commission determines to conduct a hearing or hearings pursuant to Subsection C above, the Commission shall give proper notice thereof, declaring the time and place of each such hearing, no less than 10 nor more than 15 days before each such hearing. Such notice shall be given by publication in the official newspaper and posted on the official Town signboard.
Within a reasonable time, but in no event later than 90 days after the initiation of the subject investigation, the Commission shall, upon a vote of its members, render a written report and submit the same to the Town Board. At the same time a copy of said report shall be transmitted to any person who might be directly affected by said report. Said report shall be based upon findings of facts and conclusions derived from the above-referenced evidence and testimony, shall discuss the environmental incompatibility of the subject situation and conclude with recommendations for a possible remedy or resolution of the incompatibility. Upon rendering its decision, the Commission may cause notice thereof to be given through publication in the official newspaper and posting on the official signboard of the Town. Said notice shall indicate the decision of the Commission and provide a capsule summary of the reasons underlying such decision.
If the Commission renders a report and recommendation which adversely affects any person directly involved with the subject environmental incompatibility, the owner or said person or his agent shall have 10 days after issuance of the Commission report and recommendation to file an appeal with the Town Board of the Town of Lewiston. Such Board shall consider no facts beyond those contained in the materials considered pursuant to Subsections B and C above and the record of proceedings of the Commission and must render a decision within 30 days after filing of the appeal.
The Commission shall keep accurate records of its meetings and actions and shall submit an annual report to the Town Board not later than December 31 of each year, concerning the activities and work of the Commission. From time to time, the Commission shall submit such reports and recommendations as may be necessary to fulfill the purpose of this chapter.
The members of the Commission, including ex officio members other than full-time employees of the Town and elected public officials, shall receive such compensation for their services as members of the Commission as the Town Board, from time to time, shall deem appropriate and shall be reimbursed for reasonable and necessary expenses incurred in the performance of their duties within the appropriations made available for the activities and operations of the Commission.
This chapter shall be deemed an exercise of the powers of the Town of Lewiston to preserve and improve the quality of the natural and man-made environment on behalf of the present and future inhabitants of the Town. The chapter is not intended and shall not be deemed to impair the powers of any other public corporation.