Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Defending the Viewshed

The Olana Partnership and Scenic Hudson have filed a legal challenge to overturn the approval granted by the Town of Livingston Planning Board for a 190-foot communications tower on Blue Hill, in the Olana viewshed. Joe Gentile has the story in today's Register-Star: "Environmental groups challenge Blue Hill ruling." 

In granting the approval, the Livingston Planning Board seems to have ignored letters of concern from the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) indicating that the tower would negatively impact views from Olana, which SHPO called a “preeminent historic landmark.” The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted a request from The Olana Partnership and Scenic Hudson for a review of the site under the provisions of Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. In a letter issued on August 5, 2013, the FCC stated: "The proposed tower would be plainly and prominently visible from Olana, which is a National Historic Landmark. Moreover, as the home of a landscape artist and the site of many of his famous works, the view from Olana is not only a contributing characteristic to its historic integrity, but is uniquely important to understanding the life and experiences of its famous resident. In addition, the proposed lattice tower may present a significantly greater visual intrusion than the existing guyed towers on the Olana property and landscapes."

Olana attracts 130,000 visitors every year, who support 267 jobs and generate $7.9 million for the local economy. The views from Olana are integral to the experience of the historic site and represent the birthplace of America's first art movement. To protect the Olana viewshed, Scenic Hudson has worked directly with more than a dozen property owners and invested nearly $6 million to conserve more than 1,500 acres of their lands. Other conservation groups have partnered with landowners to preserve nearly another 1,000 acres.

Photo of Blue Hill courtesy Jonathan Simons

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