Council shores up SEQR process

JOHNSTOWN — The Common Council on Tuesday night took action during special session to shore up the state Environmental Quality Review process for a potential creek project on East Main Street.

The resolution approved at City Hall adopted a SEQR “negative declaration” for a project involving the city’s right-of-way at 107 E. Main St. The property is next to the Johnstown Senior Citizens Center, 109 E. Main St.

The city doesn’t have to complete a longer form for the project’s environmental review.

“It’s basically saying we don’t have to do a full SEQR on this project,” Mayor Vern Jackson told the council.

The resolution noted the city previously requested acquisition of certain limited lands to expand the city right-of-way at 107 E. Main St. for restoration of about 150 linear feet of Comrie Creek. This request, together with a short Environmental Assessment Form and other relevant information, defines the proposed SEQR action. Council members Tuesday formally deemed the project as having no “significant adverse environmental impact” requiring preparation of a draft Environmental Impact Statement.

City Engineer Christopher Vose said the project — not started yet — may prevent future flooding in the city area near the senior center.

“We’re trying to get rid of the choke point,” the engineer said. “We don’t have the money to start the project this year.”

The council in June approved a resolution executing a $15,000 agreement with engineering firm Greenman-Pedersen, Inc. of Albany for administrative services associated with the SEQR for the 107 E. Main St. parcel.

A previous city hydrologic and hydraulic study of Comrie Creek determined the “dilapidated structural conditions” of Comrie Creek at the property is likely limiting the hydraulic capacity and causing potential area flooding. A SEQR is needed before the next step, which is an internal review. The SEQR is also required if the city desires to secure a Dormitory Authority of the State of New York grant.

City officials have been dealing with the East Main Street area since May 2, 2014 when an 18-inch sewer line pipe burst near the access road to the senior center. Culverts in that area were compromised where creek water flows. A giant sinkhole was created, the city had to close East Main Street from 30A to South Chase Street for several days.

Officials said at the time it was one of the largest sewer breaks in city history.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at [email protected]

By Patricia Older

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