Dear Fellow Buffalonians,
It is time for some hard work. The Buffalo Common Council has scheduled a public hearing for MARCH 15, 2016 at 5:30 pm to receive comments on the Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement [DGEIS] for the Buffalo Green Code. The DGEIS public hearing and written comment period are the most significant opportunity for the public to have a voice in the environmental review process mandated by SEQRA – the State Environmental Quality Review Act.
The announcement and specifics can be found at the Buffalo Green Code home page, http://www.buffalogreencode.com/:
“The Buffalo Green Code has been updated: The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DGEIS) was accepted by Common Council on Februrary [sic] 16, 2016 and is now available. A public hearing on the DGEIS is scheduled for March 15, 2016 at 5:30 p.m. at the City of Buffalo Common Council Chambers, 13th floor City Hall, 65 Niagara Square, Buffalo, NY 14202. A second public hearing is scheduled for the April 2, 2016 at 10:00 a.m., the location has not been determined for this hearing at this time. The public comment period will end on April 22, 2016.”
I urge anyone who cares about the City of Buffalo’s quality of life and future to prepare for the upcoming public hearings – and the related “written comment period” – by carefully reading and analyzing the DGEIS. It will not be helpful to the Common Council members, Office of Strategic Planning, or the public, to stand up at a public hearing [or, sit down at your computer to prepare written comments] and merely provide general, non-specific comments about the DGEIS or proposed Green Code. To make a difference, you must first educate yourself and then provide “substantive comments.” Specific references to the DGEIS and proposed Green Code, with examples of what you believe has been omitted or not thoroughly and objectively considered in the DGEIS, will be the most effective approach.
There are practical and legal reasons to “do your homework” and then provide comments to City of Buffalo officials. On the practical level, the DGEIS and proposed Buffalo Green Code are large, multi-faceted documents. Common Council members are much more likely to consider and react to your specific concerns, examples, and recommendations, than to generalities. Legally, the FGEIS – Final Generic Environmental Impact Statement – must include “the lead agency’s responses to all substantive comments” on the Draft GEIS.
To make certain that City officials actually think about and respond to the issues of concern to you, provide “substantive comments” – that is, provide Common Council members substance, not just generalities.
For your convenience, here are links to the DGEIS:
DGEIS Text: http://buffalogreencode.com/Draft%20Generic%20Environmental%0Impact%20Statement%20-%20Green%20Code_accepted.pdf
DGEIS Figures: http://buffalogreencode.com/DGEIS%20Figures.pdf
And here are the DGEIS “Appendices,” including the multiple parts making up the “Unified Development Ordinance” (UDO), commonly referred to as the Buffalo Green Code:
Appendix B – Draft Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan
Appendix D – Brownfield Opportunity Area Plans and Nomination Documents
Appendix E – Unified Development Ordinance
Appendix F – Urban Renewal Plans Review Document
Appendix G – Communty Outreach
Appendix H – Build Out Analysis
Appendix I -Transportation Analysis
It is time to roll up our sleeves, delve into the DGEIS and proposed Green Code, and determine whether the City of Buffalo’s proposed new zoning and development code deserves to be called “Green.”
With All Due Respect,
You can also let them know what parts of the proposed code are good and worthy. There is much to like about this code. If it is not watered down by the NIMBY process it will be a powerful tool in the effort to reverse the damage done by sprawl oriented codes and development concepts.
Mr. Steele seems to be unaware of the purpose for the public hearing on the DGEIS. It is to comment on the adequacy of the environmental review, to direct the lead agency’s attention to environmental issues that have not been fully addressed in the DGEIS. It is not intended as a platform to simply praise or condemn the Green Code.
Yes, there is a lot to like about the proposed land use code. And those positives can be accomplished without adversely impacting existing neighborhoods.
Suggesting that anyone who expresses concerns about the Green Code is a NIMBY [Not In My Back Yard] is incredibly closed-minded and selfish. SEQRA – the law that required preparation of the DGEIS – specifically includes in its definition of “environment” the “existing community or neighborhood character” and “existing patterns of population concentration, distribution or growth.” An important purpose of SEQRA and zoning laws is to protect current residents from potentially adverse impacts resulting from changes in their neighborhoods. It is the right of residents and property owners to point out whether or not the DGEIS is objectively and meaningfully assessing the likelihood of adverse impacts on these – or any other – aspect of the natural and man-made environment.