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VOTE411 Voter Guide

Adirondack Park Maintenance, Construction, and Water Testing Question

How the Question Will Appear:Authorizing the Use of Forest Preserve Land for Specified PurposesThe 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?Background: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 exceptions to this broad protection of the forest preserve to make it easier for municipalities to undertake certain health and safety projects.First, if passed, 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 certain limited health and safety purposes. Those purposes are (1) to address bridge hazards or safety on county highways and certain town highways; (2) to eliminate the hazards of dangerous curves and grades on county highways and certain town highways; (3) to relocate, reconstruct, and maintain county highways and certain town highways; and (4) for water wells and necessary related accessories located within 530 feet of a state highway, county highway, or certain town highway, where needed to meet drinking water quality standards. The State will acquire 250 acres, subject to approval by the Legislature, to incorporate into the forest preserve to replace the land placed in the health and safety land account.Second, if passed, the proposed amendment will allow bicycle paths and specified types of public utility lines to be located within the widths of state, county, and certain town highways that traverse forest preserve land. The work on the bicycle paths and utility lines must minimize the removal of trees and vegetation. And, if passed, 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 expressly will not permit 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 Adirondack forest preserve is protected under the “Forever Wild” clause of the New York State Constitution. This amendment protects the state forest preserve as wild forest land, prohibiting the lease, sale, exchange, or taking of any forest preserve land. This amendment also limits the amount of construction that can take place within the preserve. The proposed amendment would allow counties and townships of certain regions to conduct repairs on roads and bridges. The amendment would also allow for the installation of new bike paths, broadband internet, and water well infrastructure.
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Change Candidates

Argument:

Local governments, elected officials, and the Department of Environmental Conservation all support this amendment. Supporters feel it is necessary in order for these regions to maintain the safety of residents and ensure that quality of life is maintained. Environmental advocacy groups typically resist amendments to the “forever wild” clause but this proposal has received support from many New York State environmental groups. This proposal is similar to previous amendments for state highways and land restoration projects.
The League did not find any groups opposing this amendment.

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