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Office of Planning and Development

Scenic Areas of Statewide Significance (SASS)

Of the waterfront's many attributes, its scenery is perhaps the most universally appreciated. A major component of community character is a community's scenic resources, with special landscape features and views contributing to a community's visual quality. In order to protect community character, the scenic characteristics of your waterfront and community should be considered when making planning and development decisions.

Our office has developed a scenic assessment program that identifies the scenic qualities of coastal landscapes, evaluates them against criteria for determining aesthetic significance, and recommends areas for designation as Scenic Areas of Statewide Significance (SASS). SASS designation protects scenic landscapes through review of projects requiring State or federal actions, including direct actions, permits, or funding. Guidance for assessing the overall visual characteristics of a waterfront is included in the Making the Most of Your Waterfront guidebook.

The first application of the State’s scenic assessment program was in the Hudson River Valley coastal region, where six areas in Columbia, Greene, Dutchess and Ulster counties were designated in 1993 as Hudson River Valley Scenic Areas of Statewide Significance. In 2010, nine areas totaling more than 25,000 acres on Long Island’s East End within the Town and Village of East Hampton were designated as the East Hampton Scenic Areas of Statewide Significance.  

The areas in both the Hudson Valley and East Hampton encompass unique, highly scenic landscapes accessible to the public and recognized for their outstanding quality. The State’s scenic assessment program can be easily applied in other regions throughout New York State and can be modified to assess scenic quality in an individual community, as was done in East Hampton.