Niagara River Greenway

Do your part for clean water and waterfront access 

As a united voice we can advocate for policies that will beautify our City, provide solutions for water pollution problems, and help our communities gain access to the waterfront.

We need your help to make sure when the City revises its Zoning Code that policies are put in place that strengthen our ability to defend your right to clean water. Zoning code regulations can be put in place NOW that will help reduce and eliminate pollution into our waterways through combined sewer overflows based on a dated sewer system. We need your help in making sure public infrastructure, new development and re-development incorporates the best management practices that minimizes or eliminate stormwater and will more info will be shared soon as to how you can help.

Riverkeeper applauds the City of Buffalo for re-inventing its zoning code as a Green Code with an eye toward making future land use and development projects sustainable and environmentally healing.

Riverkeeper strongly advocates that the following policies be adopted as part of this zoning update:

1) Addressing Combined Sewer Overflow through Green Infrastructure

The new green code should ensure that all public infrastructure projects along with new development and re-development will incorporate best management practices that minimize or eliminate stormwater discharge into the City’s Combined Sewer Overflow system, including:

  • Mandating that future transportation projects be implemented as “Complete Green Streets.”
  • Ensuring that public parks, plazas and other public venues be built to integrate stormwater management seamlessly into their design in a manner that enhances total quality of life.
  • Requiring new development projects, including parking lots and facilities, provide for 100% on-site stormwater management for up to 1” events through the use of green infrastructure including measures such as bioswales, rain gardens, flow-through trenches, green roofs/walls, etc.
  • Ensuring that future demolitions will incorporate stormwater management features on the resulting vacant lots that will include site grading and fill requirements, green infrastructure and, where appropriate, possible use as collective receiving sites for adjacent multi-property downspout disconnections.

2) Provide Public Access

The new green code will respect and encourage access by citizens to our waterways and natural resources by:

  • Recognizing, respecting, completing, and enhancing our community greenways, including the Buffalo River Greenway, the Niagara River Greenway, the Black Rock Canal/Niagara Street Greenway, and the Scajaquada Creek/Jesse Kregal Pathway;
  • Ensuring that new development or redevelopment projects along the Buffalo River adhere to the required 25’ and 100’ public access setbacks as outlined in the City’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan;
  • Extending the current Buffalo River setback and public access requirements to the Niagara River, Lake Erie and Scajaquada Creek;
  • Recognizing and protecting the significant Federal, State, and Local investments that have been and are currently being undertaken in river remediation and habitat restoration by ensuring that new development adjacent to waterfront sites include increased habitat value for fish, birds and mammals, and that site designs control potential sedimentation and/or erosion, and include explicit mitigation requirements for shoreline development in addition to the public access requirements.
  • Prioritizing marine and water dependent uses, supporting water enhanced uses, and discouraging uses that do not have water connections from being sited along the water’s edge;
  • Phasing out or prohibiting land uses that have an adverse impact and discourage broad based community use and water recreation such as restricted “adult” stores;
  • Prohibiting off–site signage such as billboards along the Seaway Trail in accordance with the Seaway Trail National Scenic Byway provisions.

3) Community Specific Recommendations

The City and its consultants have divided the planning work by community, and we have developed specific points for each of the City’s designated areas:

Central

  • Ensure that the Outer Harbor be zoned primarily for recreation and public access with the exception of the NFTA Terminal A and Freezer Queen Complexes, which should be reserved for marine based mixed use.
  • Provide regulations for parking lot design in the urban core that incorporate stormwater management on-site through use of bio-infiltration and pervious paving;
  • Encourage use of green roofs and walls where building are land-locked to manage stormwater on-site where site conditions make other green options difficult;
  • Encourage the redevelopment of the Perry Projects such that new development manages all of its stormwater on site and explore ability of this site to also manage stormwater from adjacent 190.

Northwest

  • Zone for creation of a continuous greenway connection along the Black Rock Channel and Niagara River;
  • Support for water dependent uses, limit non-water related uses along the coastal edge;
  • Ensure that the zoning for the Tonawanda Street Brownfield Opportunity Area mandate best management practices relative to stormwater and that future redevelopment of this area limits stormwater discharge into Scajaquada Creek or the Niagara River or to the City’s combined sewer overflow system;
  • Advocate for the creation of a Brownfield Opportunity Area in the Elmwood-Hertel-Military area that would encourage green redevelopment of these vacant and under-utilized parcels in a way that encourages smart growth and best management practices regarding stormwater.

Northeast

  • Encourage UB to continue to re-develop its campus using best management practices including porous pavement and bio-infiltration to limit stormwater discharge.

North

  • Advocate for the downgrade of the Scajaquada Expressway to a boulevard that functions as a green street that does not discharge runoff to the nearby waterways;
  • Advocate for the redevelopment of Kenmore Avenue as a Complete Green Street that incorporates bioinfiltration, structural soils, and other best practices for managing stormwater;
  • Advocate for the creation of a Brownfield Opportunity Area in the Elmwood-Hertel-Military area that would encourage green redevelopment of these vacant and under-utilized parcels in a way that encourages smart growth and best management practices regarding stormwater.
  • Advocate for green infrastructure solutions to eliminate Combined Sewer Overflows into Scajaquada Creek which also affect Forest Lawn Cemetery and Hoyt Lake;
  • Ensure that the new housing development slated for the abandoned railroad line does not send any stormwater into the City’s combined sewer overflow system.

Ellicott

  • Ensure that future development projects in the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus manage all of their stormwater on-site and do not contribute stormwater to the City’s combined sewer system;
  • Ensure that the Fruit Belt Streetscape Redesign project (High and Carlton Streets) incorporate full stormwater management;
  • Incorporate stormwater management onto vacant lots and re-design the City’s demolition specifications to ensure that lots cleared with City funds are designed to hold stormwater on-site and not sheet-flow to the street or sidewalk.

West

  • Zone for the creation of a continuous greenway along the shore of Lake Erie, the Black Rock Channel, and the Niagara River;
  • Ensure that the ongoing redevelopment of the Buffalo State College campus utilizes best management practices regarding stormwater including porous paving and bioinfiltration and that future development does not contribute to the City’s combined sewer overflow system;
  • Ensure that the proposed redevelopment of the Richardson Complex manages all of its stormwater on-site and does not contribute to the City’s combined sewer overflow system;
  • Advocate for inclusion of a stormwater management component of the upcoming redevelopment of School 18’s site and parking lot;
  • Advocate that Elmwood Avenue between Forest and the entrance to the Scajaquada Expressway be redeveloped as a Complete Green Street.

South

  • Ensure that the current riparian set-backs along the Buffalo River are carried over into the new Green Code;
  • Ensure that the zoning for the Riverbend Site includes best practices for stormwater management and that future development of this site will not contribute any run-off to the Buffalo River or to the City’s combined sewer overflow system;
  • Ensure that the zoning for the South Buffalo Brownfield Opportunity Area mandate best management practices relative to stormwater and that future redevelopment of this area contribute no stormwater to the Buffalo River or to the City’s combined sewer overflow system;
  • Ensure that the zoning for the Buffalo River Brownfield Opportunity Area mandate best management practices relative to stormwater and that future redevelopment of this area contribute no stormwater to the Buffalo River or to the City’s combined sewer overflow system.

East

  • Advocate that the upcoming Fillmore Avenue reconstruction project re-make Fillmore Avenue as a Complete Green Street;
  • Incorporate stormwater management onto vacant lots and re-design the City’s demolition specifications to ensure that lots cleared with City funds are designed to hold stormwater on-site and not sheet-flow to the street or sidewalk.

Masten-E. Delavan

  • Advocate that the upcoming Fillmore Avenue reconstruction project re-make Fillmore Avenue as a Complete Green Street;
  • Incorporate stormwater management onto vacant lots and re-design the City’s demolition specifications to ensure that lots cleared with City funds are designed to hold stormwater on-site and not sheet-flow to the street or sidewalk.

Our region scored a major victory in February 2007 when all 13 Niagara greenway municipalities endorsed the Niagara River Greenway Plan.

For the first time ever we have both a regional vision and seed funding from the Niagara power plant relicensing settlements to help transform the Niagara River corridor into “a necklace of open space and conservation areas spread along the river” as expressed in the New York State greenway legislation.

Now, as the various committees and the Greenway Commission figure out how to award greenway grant funds, it is up to all of us to create and forward projects that will restore the rich natural and cultural heritage of our lake and river fronts.

Visit www.niagaragreenway.org for information about the Niagara River Greenway Commission including by-laws, RFPs, meeting minutes and more.

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