Chester

A Citizen's Guide
Here, we will be presenting topics to help residents with reviewing the impacts of a new development project and providing resources for more information. Please contact us if you need assistance.

A common reference is made to SEQR at Town Meetings.  This is the State Environmental Quality Review Regulations.  The Purpose of SEQR is to incorporate the consideration of environmental factors into the existing planning, review and decision making processes of State, regional, and local government.  Environment means land, air, water, noise, plants and animals, archeological, historical, aesthetics, transportation, energy, growth and character of community. 

Citizen's have an important role in the process by raising awareness of the impacts of a proposed action. You can offer information about local history, community character or important local resources that could be impacted by a proposed action. You can offer this information as an individual or in cooperation with civic, environmental or other local interest groups. . 

A summary of SEQR can be found in the DEC Citizen Guide link below. The goal of New York's Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) Act is to avoid or limit possible negative impacts on the environment from proposed actions such as sub-dividing land, adopting land use plans, building a housing development or a roadway or filling wetlands. When any state or local agency makes a decision about a proposed action, it must give equal consideration to environmental protection, human and community resources and economic factors. The SEQR process provides a way for agencies to look closely at the possible environmental impacts of a proposed action.The agency conducting the SEQR review must determine if a proposed action may or will not have significant adverse impacts on the environment. Determinations of significance must be based on information provided by the project sponsor in an Environmental Assessment Form (EAF), other supporting documents and comments from any involved agencies and the public. When the agency determines that there may be one or more significant adverse environmental impacts from a proposed action, a positive declaration is made meaning that an EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) must be prepared and made available for public review.

Update:

DEC Adopts First Major Update to State's Environmental Quality Review Regulations in 20 Years. The updates to SEQR will take effect on January 1, 2019, and will expand the number of actions not subject to further review, known as Type II actions, modify thresholds for actions deemed more likely to require the preparation of an environmental impact statement (EIS), and require scoping of an EIS. The final rules will be available on DEC's website and noticed in both the Environmental Notice Bulletin and the State Register on July 18. DEC expects to release an updated SEQR Handbook and SEQR workbooks later this year to reflect the regulatory changes that take effect.

Press Release 6/28/18 here

The SEQR Handbook is an important resource document (link below) providing Q&A -- for example:

When there is a hearing on a draft EIS, how can a member of the public comment effectively?

Commenting on the draft EIS is a valuable way for state or local agencies and the public to have direct input into the decision making process. This agency and public input can be particularly helpful to the lead agency in determining whether impacts on resources outside the lead agency's fundamental jurisdictions and expertise have been adequately addressed. Agencies should focus their comments on topics which relate to their functions or expertise. The following guidelines are good practice by anyone making comments:

·         Focus on major issues. 

·        If oral comments are made at a hearing, back them up with written comments covering at least the main points made at the hearing. (Remember that the record must remain open for at least ten days after the close of a hearing for submission of additional written comments.)

·         Consider whether studies conducted and other sources cited are adequate to support the analyses and conclusions reported in the draft EIS. If there are deficiencies in the discussions of potential impacts, alternatives or mitigation, the commenter should identify those, and may suggest additional or more appropriate studies or sources to augment the deficient discussions.

·         Give careful attention to the comparative assessment of alternatives presented in the draft EIS, and offer additional reasonable alternatives, if they can be identified by the commenter.

·         Review all mitigation measures which are analyzed, and suggest additional reasonable measures to reduce adverse environmental impacts, if they can be identified by the commenter. 

Click below for more information on SEQR

 New York State-D.E.C. SEQR:

Environmental Impact Assessment: http://www.dec.ny.gov/permits/357.html

SEQR Handbook:  http://www.dec.ny.gov/permits/6188.html

SEQR Forms: http://www.dec.ny.gov/permits/6191.html

Citizen's Guide to SEQR Process (2 pages): http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/permits_ej_operations_pdf/seqrcitizen.pdf

Flow Chart and Summary of SEQR: http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/permits_ej_operations_pdf/cookbook1.pdf

 

For more information, go to the N.Y.S.-D.E.C. website at:

http://www.dec.ny.gov/

More information coming soon......


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