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Consistency Review

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is Consistency Review?

The Department of State (DOS), as the agency responsible for administering the New York State Coastal Management Program (NYS CMP) (pdf) is committed to balancing competing land and water uses in the coastal zone. Consistency Review is the tool which enables the DOS to manage coastal uses and resources while facilitating cooperation and coordination with involved State, federal and local agencies.  The “consistency” of a proposed activity with the NYS CMP is determined through a set of coastal policies and procedures designed to enable appropriate economic development while advancing the protection and preservation of ecological, cultural, historic, recreational, and esthetic values.

More information about the NYS CMP is available within the NYS CMP and Final Environmental Impact Statement.

Click here for more information about the regulatory context of consistency review.

Q: How can I determine if my project is in the coastal area?

A: The Coastal Boundary Map contains a visual approximation of New York's Coastal Area Boundary. This map has been designed using the Google Map application for ease of use, and instructions for using the map are available here. The official boundaries of the coastal area are available from the New York State GIS Clearinghouse.

Q: What are the State’s coastal waters and inland waterways?

A: Coastal waters and inland waterways are defined in New York State Executive Law, Article 42, Section 911.

Q: If my project is located in the state’s coastal area, does it need to be reviewed by the Department of State?

A: If your project requires a permit or other regulatory approval from a federal agency, or involves federal financial assistance, a consistency review by the Department of State will likely be required.

Q: What is involved in a consistency certification and obtaining a consistency determination from the Department of State prior to receiving a federal permit?

A: A copy of all federal application materials should be submitted to the Department of State at the same time they are sent to the federal permitting agency. The applicant certifies to the federal agency and the Department of State that the project complies and is consistent with the New York State Coastal Management Program. No federal agency can issue a permit for a project affecting New York’s coastal area until the Department concurs with the consistency certification.

Q: How long does the Department of State’s review of my consistency certification take?

A By federal regulation, the Department of State has six months to complete its review of a consistency certification and make a decision. If the Department has not made its decision within three months of the receipt of necessary information and start of the review, it must notify an applicant of the status of its review. Typically, most consistency reviews can be completed within one or two months.

Q: Are State agencies subject to consistency?

A: Yes, a State agency must make a consistency determination for a proposed State agency activity prior to undertaking the action. Within a community having an approved LWRP, State agency actions must comply with that LWRP. More information regarding state consistency is available here.

Q: What is a Significant Coastal Fish and Wildlife Habitat?

A: A number of important coastal habitats throught the State's Coastal Area have been designated as Significant Coastal Fish and Wildlife Habitats. These designations and a habitat narrative for each of the designated habitats are an integral and enforceable element of State Coastal Policy 7.

Q: What is a SASS?

A: A SASS is a designated Scenic Area of Statewide Significance. A designated SASS encompasses unique landscapes which are accessible to the public and recognized for their scenic quality.

Q: How many SASS areas are there?

A: The Hudson River coastal area is the first of New York's coastal regions to have undergone a comprehensive analysis of scenic coastal resources. Six Hudson River areas have been designated as SASS. New York’s second SASS, designated in 2010, includes nine scenic areas totaling 25,050 acres within the Town and Village of East Hampton on Long Island’s South Fork.

Q: What is a Coastal Erosion Hazard Area (CEHA)?

A: To protect lives and reduce the loss of property due to coastal erosion and flooding, the State Legislature mandated that vulnerable shore areas be designated as Coastal Erosion Hazard Areas, where construction or excavation is controlled through a permit process (Article 34 of the Environmental Conservation Law). Coastal Erosion Hazard Areas have been designated in New York for the shores of Lakes Erie and Ontario, the Atlantic Ocean and Long Island Sound. Permits are administered by either the municipality, the county or the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. To find out more about how the CEHA may affect your property, contact your local planning office or the regional office of the NYSDEC.