New York Forest Preserve Power Line Proposal, Proposal 1 (2009)

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The New York Forest Preserve Power Line Proposal, also known as Proposal 1, appeared on the November 3, 2009 ballot as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment in the state of New York.

The proposal was an amendment to section 1 of article 14 of the state constitution. The measure allows the construction of a 46-kilovolt power line along State Route 56. Six acres of forest preserve lands was conveyed to National Grid by the Legislature in order to construct the power line. In return, National Grid conveyed at least 10 acres of forest land to the state to be incorporated into forest preserve in St. Lawrence County. Passage of the amendment was the final step of a $30 million upgrade to the Tri-Lakes region's electric distribution system.[1][2]

According to reports, the power upgrade passed twice through legislature, but had to be approved by voters, as stated in the constitutional requirement for Adirondack Park land exchanges. The amendment received support from multiple environmental groups in the state.[3]

Election results

New York Proposal 1 was approved by voters on the night of November 3, 2009. Unofficial election results follow:[4]

New York Proposal 1
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 863,898 66.9%
No427,04333.1%

Text of measure

The short ballot summary New York voters saw on their ballot was:

The proposed amendment would authorize the Legislature to convey up to six acres of forest preserve land along State Route 56 in St. Lawrence County to National Grid for construction of a power line. In exchange, National Grid would convey to the State at least 10 acres of forest land in St. Lawrence County, to be incorporated into the forest preserve. The land to be conveyed by National Grid to the State must be at least equal in value to the land conveyed to National Grid by the State. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?[5]

Constitutional changes

See also: Amending the New York Constitution
State Route 56 in St. Lawrence (in red)

According to the state Board of Elections' certification, the proposal amended Section 1 of Article 14 of the New York Constitution by adding to the end:

Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions and subject to legislative approval prior to actual transfer of title, the state may convey to National Grid up to six acres adjoining State Route 56 in St. Lawrence County where it passes through Forest Preserve in Township 5, Lots 1,2,4 and 6 that is necessary and appropriate for National Grid to construct a new 46kV power line and in exchange therefore National Grid shall convey to the state for incorporation into the forest preserve at least 10 acres of forest land owned by National Grid in St. Lawrence County, on condition that legislature shall determine that the property to be received by the state is at least equal in value to the land conveyed by the state.

The end of Section 1, previously stated:

Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions and subject to legislative approval prior to actual transfer of title, the state may convey to the town of Keene, Essex county, for public use as a cemetery owned by such town, approximately twelve acres of forest preserve land within such town and, in exchange therefore, the town of Keene shall convey to the state for incorporation into the forest preserve approximately one hundred forty-four acres of land, together with an easement over land owned by such town including the riverbed adjacent to the land to be conveyed to the state that will restrict further development of such land, on condition that the legislature shall determine that the property to be received by the state is at least equal in value to the land to be conveyed by the state.
Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions and subject to legislative approval prior to actual transfer of title, because there is no viable alternative to using forest preserve lands for the siting of drinking water wells and necessary appurtenances and because such wells are necessary to meet drinking water quality standards, the state may convey to the town of Long Lake, Hamilton county, one acre of forest preserve land within such town for public use as the site of such drinking water wells and necessary appurtenances for the municipal water supply for the hamlet of Raquette Lake. In exchange therefore, the town of Long Lake shall convey to the state at least twelve acres of land located in Hamilton county for incorporation into the forest preserve that the legislature shall determine is at least equal in value to the land to be conveyed by the state. The Raquette Lake surface reservoir shall be abandoned as a drinking water supply source.

Article 14, Section 1 was last amended on November 6, 2007.

Supporters

Arguments

The president of the New York Power Authority, National Grid officials, and state Sen. Elizabeth O'C. Little campaigned for the measure, holding press conferences in Tupper Lake, which is in the region the power lines will be constructed. According to reports, the powerlines were already activated in early 2009, but the amendment made the power lines official. Supporters also stated that the 46 kilovolt powerline would end frequent blackouts and other power problems that have plagued the area. According to New York Power Authority President Richard M. Kessel: "It would allow us to do, frankly, what we've already done. We want to see it passed. The worst thing you can have is uninformed voters who, if they see something and there's a lot of language, they just click no. We've got to get them to click yes."[6]

But Richard Kessell stated concern that voters won't know what the proposal is about and would vote no while being misinformed: "People downstate have no idea what it is."

David Gibson, executive director of Protect the Adirondacks, stated that the passage of the proposal would result in a net gain of land for the Forest Preserve. According to Gibson, this would save acres of privately owned timberland that would have otherwise been cleared.[7]

Opposition

According to the Associated Press of New York, Proposal 1 did not draw public opposition, as well as Proposal 2, the other measure on the November ballot.

Campaign contributions

No committees or contributions to campaigns relating to Proposal 1 were reported.[8]

See also

External links

Additional reading

References