Marcellus Shale and Municipal Empowerment in New York

By Zachary Kansler, Albany Government Law Review

Introduction

Natural gas deposits in the Marcellus Shale geologic formations have been a polarizing issue in New York State, spanning areas of concern including public health, environmental welfare, and municipal authority, among others.  For some, Marcellus Shale is a symbol for a movement or point of view, and for others, the extraction of natural gas deposits in Marcellus Shale formations has had a more profound effect, including families alleging that their water supply has been tainted by drilling and extraction processes known as hydrofracking.[1]  Many believe the adverse effects of hydrofracking can be addressed, and hopefully mitigated through various means, including state regulation.[2]  In addition, it is also possible that local governments may have the authority to address natural gas extraction as well. However, until recently, it was not known whether such authority existed.    Continue reading “Marcellus Shale and Municipal Empowerment in New York”

“Rowing in the Same Direction”: Regional Economic Development in NYS

By Nick Herubin, Albany Government Law Review

An ongoing problem in economic development is getting the municipalities in a particular region to work together to grow the area’s economy.  New York’s “home rule” essentially gives towns and cities complete control over planning and zoning.[1]  This can create problems including sprawl and a general lack of a coherent economic development plan.  When an economic development plan is effective, it can allow a region to capitalize on its strengths and boost the entire area’s economy.  When there is no regional plan or an ineffective plan, however, economic development can lead to haphazard development as towns and cities squabble over state funding for the latest big project.  The key is for state leaders to get local officials around a particular region working together, or as one local development official in Schenectady puts it, “rowing in the same direction.”[2] Continue reading ““Rowing in the Same Direction”: Regional Economic Development in NYS”

Horsing Around With Conservation: Revisited

By Kevin Rautenstrauch, Albany Government Law Review

This January Andrew Stengel, Editor-in-Chief of Albany Government Law Review, posted on the Fireplace blog: Horsing Around With Conservation Part Two: A Roofless Historical Structure in a Brooklyn Park Hosts Public Outdoor Recreation, But State Parks Claims Otherwise. Stengel’s analysis of legal arguments of records obtained by the state’s Freedom of Information Law and U.S. Freedom of Information Act, which one paper called “seminal,” concluded that the National Parks Service violated the law by removing the Tobacco Warehouse, a historic structure from a protected map.

This week a federal judge ruled that the federal government indeed violated the law thus protecting the Tobacco Warehouse. The lawsuit was based on Stengel’s theory and documents that he provided to the plaintiffs, several Brooklyn community groups.

Horsing Around With Conservation Part Two: A Roofless Historical Structure in a Brooklyn Park Hosts Public Outdoor Recreation, But State Parks Claims Otherwise

Andrew Stengel, Albany Government Law Review Member[1]

Introduction

In a recent post, Horsing Around with Conservation, I explored whether a carousel planned for a park in Brooklyn, New York, violated the terms of a federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (“LWCF”) grant and New York State law.[2] I concluded that the carousel likely violated both.  A second issue, which concerns Empire Fulton Ferry Park (“EFFP”), the same nine-acre park covered in the same LWCF grant, involves an important historical structure called the Tobacco Warehouse.

There are actually two historic structures within EFFP, the Empire Stores, a four-story brick building, built in 1869, and the Tobacco Warehouse, a roofless, four-walled brick structure from the same era.[3] The Empire Stores, which is roofed, is part of the Endangered Buildings Initiative of the New York Landmarks Conservancy.[4] The roofless Tobacco Warehouse, however, is used as “an outdoor venue for exhibits and entertainment”[5] that is open to the public when not rented for private use.[6]

In 2001, National Parks Service (“NPS”) approved a LWCF grant in the amount of $275,525 for the Cove Area Improvement in EFFP.[7] Unexplored in my previous post is the original boundary map for the LWCF grant, which incorporated all of EFFP including the Empire Stores and Tobacco Warehouse.[8] The map detailed the area covered by the grant, which, like all LWCF projects, included an assurance in perpetuity that the land and real property contained within will not be converted.[9] However, on November 5, 2008, the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (“OPRHP”) wrote to NPS to request that the park’s boundary map be amended.[10] The OPRHP letter stated: “These former warehouse buildings [the Empire Stores and Tobacco Warehouse] are not suitable for nor used by the public for outdoor recreational opportunities in the park.[11]

Continue reading “Horsing Around With Conservation Part Two: A Roofless Historical Structure in a Brooklyn Park Hosts Public Outdoor Recreation, But State Parks Claims Otherwise”