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The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321-4335) was enacted “to declare a national policy which would encourage productive and enjoyable harmony between humans and their environment; to promote efforts which will prevent or eliminate damage to the environment and biosphere, and stimulate the health and welfare of humans; to enrich the understanding of the ecological systems and natural resources important to the Nation; and to establish a Council on Environmental Quality”. Compliance with the NEPA process is invoked when a federal permit or other authorizing action is required, such as issuance of an operating license by the Federal Communications Commission.

NEPA compliance has been a service area of StoneHill since 1998 with this service being conducted for the wireless communications industry. The purpose of the NEPA process is to assess whether a proposed “undertaking” (ie: construction of a wireless communications facility) will have a significant impact on the environment and to begin a process to minimize environmental impacts where unavoidable. The environmental concerns evaluated include potential impacts within areas of officially designated wilderness areas, wildlife preserves or critical habitat; undertakings that may affect listed endangered or threatened species; potential impacts to Indian resources or properties on or eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places (Section 106 Review); and impacts involving significant land disturbance such as to floodways, wetlands or forested land. In the case of the wireless industry, potential impacts of lighting and radio frequency radiation are also assessed. The compliance process may be complete following the Environmental Evaluation, or further consideration may be required by completion of an Environmental Assessment (EA) or Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).


Selected Project Summaries

NEPA Environmental Evaluation, Rindge, NH

Most NEPA evaluations for the wireless industry are complete following the Environmental Evaluation level of inquiry since the industry consultants
avoid impacts wherever possible, thus obtaining “categorical exclusion” from environmental processing. Most of the
potentially impacted concerns are obvious, such as avoiding impacts to critical habitats or wetlands; however, a tower may negatively impact a historic property simply by being within view from the historic property. This issue is of concern when the setting of the property was a factor used to qualify the property for listing on the National Register of Historic Properties. Through hands-on experience, StoneHill has developed a sound process to assist its wireless industry clients step through the Section 106 process. The New Hampshire State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) has often commended StoneHill for providing the detail required to quickly render determinations regarding potential impacts to historic properties.

 

NEPA Environmental Assessment, Pembroke, NH

StoneHill assisted a wireless communications client obtain a “No Adverse Effect” letter from the New Hampshire SHPO when a potentially affected
National Historic Landmark property entered the NEPA process concerned that the proposed undertaking posed a “cumulative negative impact”, resulting in completion of an Environmental Assessment. The host municipality in this case also required that the applicant obtain the No Adverse Effect letter from the SHPO. A qualifying
characteristic of the historic property was its rural setting, which it argued would be adversely affected be replacement of a wireless communications tower with a new taller tower with more antennas and microwave dishes. Despite its contention that the Section 106 approval process did not apply to the replacement tower as it was located within a “tower farm”, StoneHill worked with the tower company so that when the SHPO entered the consulting process along with representatives of the impacted property, our client understood the Section 106 process and was prepared to make conciliatory gestures to accommodate the historic property. With that, representatives of the Landmark property and the SHPO were satisfied that their opinions had been aired and taken into consideration. Subsequently, the SHPO issued the “No Adverse Effect” letter, permitting StoneHill’s client to erect the replacement tower.

 

Click here to contact a StoneHill representative to learn more about NEPA services

 

600 State Street, Suite 2
Portsmouth, NH 03801
Telephone: 603-433-1935
Toll Free: 1-800-639-4503
Fax: 603-433-1942
info@stonehillenvironmental.com

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