The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended (16 U.S.C. 470) is the nation's primary historic preservation law. The act created the National Register of Historic Places, the official list of properties significant in the history, architecture, archeology and culture of the United States. The act also called for the creation of State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPOs) to administer the national program at the state level. In addition, any project that involves federal funds, licenses or permits is reviewed in accordance with Section 106, which establishes procedures to be followed by federal agencies whose actions may directly or indirectly have an effect on historic properties and directs those agencies to consult with SHPO to assess those effects. Therefore, any approvals/permits/funding that are given by a federal agency must also be reviewed by SHPO. The comments of an independent review agency, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, may be sought when federal agencies are involved in relevant undertakings. Examples of federal undertakings include but are not limited to CORPS permits, FCC permits (cell towers), FDIC approvals/funding (banks, mortgage insurance, etc.), or HUD funding, etc.
The New York State Historic Preservation Act of 1980 was established as a counterpart to the National Historic Preservation Act and declares historic preservation to be the public policy and in the public interest of the state. The act created the New York State Register of Historic Places, the official list of sites, buildings, structures, areas or objects significant in the history, architecture, archeology or culture of the state, its communities or the nation. The act also requires state agencies to consult with the SHPO if it appears that any projects being planned may or will cause any change, beneficial or adverse, in the quality of any historic, architectural, archeological or cultural property that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places or listed on the State Register or that is determined to be eligible for listing on the State Register. It requires state agencies, to the fullest extent practicable, consistent with other provisions of the law, to avoid or mitigate adverse impacts to such properties, to explore all feasible and prudent alternatives and to give due consideration to feasible and prudent plans that would avoid or mitigate adverse impacts to such property. The act also establishes agency preservation officers within state agencies for the purpose of implementing these provisions. In addition, the act reaffirms and expands the role of the State Board for Historic Preservation, which advises and makes recommendations to the State Historic Preservation Officer on preservation programs and activities, including State and National Registers nominations and statewide preservation planning efforts.
The State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA), 6NYCRR Part 617 of the New York State Environmental Conservation Law, establishes a set of uniform regulations by which all state, county and local governmental agencies incorporate consideration of environmental impacts into their planning, review and decision-making processes. Impacts to historic resources, such as buildings listed on the State or National Registers of Historic Places and archeological sites, should be taken into account. To accomplish the goal of the act, SEQRA requires that all governmental agencies determine whether the action they directly undertake, fund or approve may have a significant impact on the environment. If an action may have a significant adverse impact, agencies must prepare or request an environmental impact statement. SEQRA applies to projects undertaken or permitted by county and local governments; consequently, many thousands of projects statewide that fall outside the purview of the state and national historic preservation acts are reviewed. New implementing regulations for SEQRA went into effect in 1996. Under this act, municipalities may request that a project be reviewed by the SHPO. All SHPO comments under this review are advisory only.
For more information on SEQRA consult the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation