This coming November, citizens will vote on the Land Bank proposition: a legislative move driven by citizens of the Adirondack and Catskill Parks. NYLCV strongly supports this bill, and here’s why you should too: it is a step in the right direction to balancing between encouraging economic development and preservation of the environment. Hurricane Harvey’s devastation has called to attention the conundrum, and this bill is a step in the right direction for New York State.
The amendment was proposed by State Senator Betty Little, who represents much of the Adirondack Park. Article 14 of the State Constitution would be amended, “allowing public utility lines and bicycle paths on certain state lands in the forest preserve and establishing a forest preserve land bank for public projects.”
Currently, relatively small projects like the enhancement of power lines, installation of broadband, and the creation of bike lanes next to highways (rather than on them) can be stalled out for years and are more likely to be vetoed by voters in far away counties because an actual amendment to the state constitution must be proposed and passed. Projects enhancing and building safer bike lanes are a true step towards the ultimate goal of sustainability. With the Land Bank Proposition, projects can be streamlined and the approval process is localized, as it should be.
The Land Bank bill would allow for a land bank of 250 acres total from the Catskill and Adirondack Parks. The amendment holds a standard that “an individual project would be limited to no more than five acres and no more than ten acres in total could be used by an individual town or fifteen acres by an individual county, unless authorized by the legislature”. It also reads that projects involving “public utility project would have to be approved by the town or towns where the project is proposed”.
NYLCV supports the Land Bank proposition along with handfuls of other environmental and government groups such as: The Nature Conservancy, the DEC, Scenic Hudson, the Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages, and The Adirondack Mountain Club to name a few.
New York State residents: the fate of this bill, and the towns and villages of the Catskills and Adirondacks, now lies in your hands. This is an excellent opportunity to get to the polls and support an innovative piece of legislation that appeals to both an economic development agenda and an environmental preservation agenda.
Author: Victoria Shea