New York State's Constitution protects the State's forest preserve as wild forest land and generally prohibits the lease, sale, exchange, or taking of any forest preserve land. The proposed amendment will create two new exceptions to this broad protection of the forest preserve to make it easier for municipalities to undertake certain health and safety projects.
First, the proposed amendment will create a land account of up to 250 acres of forest preserve land. A town, village, or county can apply to the land account if it has no viable alternative to using forest preserve land for specified health and safety purposes. These purposes are (1) to address bridge hazards or safety on specified highways; (2) to eliminate the hazards of dangerous curves and grades on specified highways; (3) to relocate, reconstruct, and maintain highways; and (4) for water wells and necessary related accessories located within 530 feet of a specified highway, where needed to meet drinking water quality standards. The State will acquire 250 acres to add to the forest preserve to replace the land placed in the health and safety land account, subject to approval by the Legislature,
Second, the proposed amendment will allow bicycle paths and types of public utility lines to be located within the widths of specified highways that cross forest preserve land. The work on the bicycle paths and utility lines must minimize the removal of trees and vegetation. The proposed amendment will allow a stabilization device (such as a guy wire) for an existing utility pole to be located near the width of a highway when necessary to ensure public health and safety and when no other viable option exists. The proposed amendment prohibits the construction of a new intrastate gas or oil pipeline that did not receive necessary state and local permits and approvals by June 1, 2016.
The proposed amendment will create a land account with up to 250 acres of forest preserve land eligible for use by towns, villages, and counties that have no viable alternative to using forest preserve land to address specific public health and safety concerns; as a substitute for the land removed from the forest preserve, another 250 acres of land, will be added to the forest preserve, subject to legislative approval. The proposed amendment also will allow bicycle trails and certain public utility lines to be located within the width of specified highways that cross the forest preserve while minimizing removal of trees and vegetation. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?
Yes ( ) No ( )