1 THE seqr HANDBOOK 3rd Edition - 2010 Division of environmental Permits New York State Department of environmental Conservation Since it first appeared in March 1982, the seqr HANDBOOK has been a standard reference book for State , county and local government officials; environmental consultants; attorneys; permit applicants; and the public at large. When the seqr regulations were amended in January 1996 some of the information included in the 2nd edition of the HANDBOOK , published November 1992, became out of date. Requests for a new edition of the HANDBOOK have been steady. In addition, many people have sent in suggestions, questions and topics for consideration for the next edition. We've heard you! We have tried to address the topics, concerns and confusions that you have identified. As with earlier handbooks, each topic will be presented in a question and answer format.
2 We welcome your comments! To send comments, suggestions or corrections, please e-mail. If you prefer to send comments via surface mail, you may send them to: NYSDEC Division of environmental Permits 625 Broadway, 4th Floor Albany NY 12233-1750 TABLE OF CONTENTS seqr HANDBOOK : Introduction .. 1 A. The seqr HANDBOOK - What is it? .. 1 B. What is the Purpose of the Act? .. 3 C. What Are the Key Elements? .. 3 D. What is the environmental Notice Bulletin (ENB)? .. 4 E. Where can I find the seqr Flow Chart and Time Frames Publication? .. 4 F. What is the Concept of Reasonableness as it applies to seqr ? .. 4 G. History .. 6 H. Roadmap of Part 617 before and after the 1996 Amendments .. 8 Chapter 1: Agencies and Decisions Subject to seqr ..10 A. Agencies Subject to seqr : The Who, What, and When .. 10 B. Decisions Subject to seqr : The Who, What, and When .. 12 C.
3 When to Begin seqr .. 16 Chapter 2: Review Required Under A. seqr HANDBOOK : Type I Actions .. 17 B. seqr HANDBOOK : Type II Actions .. 29 C. Critical environmental Areas (CEAs) .. 51 D. Segmentation .. 54 Chapter 3: Participation in the seqr Process ..58 A. Coordinated Review .. 58 B. Uncoordinated Review .. 59 C. Establishment of Lead Agency .. 60 D. Lead Agency Responsibilities .. 64 E. Involved Agency Responsibilities .. 65 F. Project Sponsor/Applicant .. 67 G. Interested Agency and Public Involvement .. 69 H. Lead Agency Disputes .. 71 Chapter 4: Determining Significance ..72 A. environmental Assessments .. 72 B. Determining Significance .. 78 C. Positive Declarations .. 89 D. Negative Declarations .. 91 E. Conditioned Negative Declarations (CNDs) .. 94 Chapter 5: environmental Impact Statements ..101 A. General Concepts ..101 B. Scoping A Draft EIS.
4 104 C. Contents of a Draft EIS .. 117 D. Review of the Draft EIS (DEIS) .. 133 E. seqr Hearings .. 137 F. Final EISs .. 140 G. Supplemental EISs .. 143 H. Generic EISs .. 145 I. Findings .. 151 J. Fees for EIS Preparation or Review .. 155 Chapter 6: seqr Housekeeping .. 159 A. Time 159 B. Required Notices and Filings .. 164 C. Record Keeping and Disclosure .. 170 D. Challenges .. 171 E. Making seqr More Efficient .. 173 Chapter 7: seqr and Local Government Development Decision .. 176 A. General Applicability of seqr to Local Governments .. 176 B. seqr and Land Use Decisions .. 179 C. seqr and Capital Improvements .. 186 D. seqr and Municipal Annexations .. 187 E. seqr and Municipal Development Incentives .. 189 Chapter 8: seqr and Related Federal and State Review .. 189 A. seqr and the National environmental Policy Act (NEPA) .. 189 B. Archeological and Historic Resources.
5 193 C. Coastal and Inland Waterways Programs .. 198 D. Agricultural Districts .. 202 Chapter 9: Notable Court Decisions on seqr .. 204 Notable Court Decisions on seqr .. 204 seqr HANDBOOK : Introduction A. The seqr HANDBOOK - What is it? The seqr HANDBOOK provides agencies, project sponsors, and the public with a practical reference guide to the procedures prescribed by the State environmental quality Review Act ( seqr )--Article 8 of the environmental Conservation Law. It addresses common questions that arise during the process of applying seqr . The HANDBOOK also attempts to address the needs of individuals who have varying degrees of experience with seqr . Topics range from an introduction to the basic seqr process to discussions of important procedural and substantive details. The HANDBOOK is one of four key documents which establish and describe the seqr process: the law, Article 8 of the environmental Conservation Law, the regulations, 6 NYCRR Part 617, the seqr Cookbook (pdf file, 311 kb), and this seqr HANDBOOK .
6 The law and regulations prescribe the goals, processes, and decision criteria for environmental reviews under seqr . The latter two are companion documents. The Cookbook uses a flow-chart approach to describe the steps to take when applying seqr to a project, while this HANDBOOK provides more detail and guidance. This is the third edition of the seqr HANDBOOK , and it entirely replaces the previous editions. This edition reflects the State environmental quality Review ( seqr ) process as it now stands. It is based on crucial court decisions which have molded the process and the most recent revisions to the statewide seqr regulations, Part 617 of Title 6 of New York s Codes, Rules and Regulations. This third edition of the seqr HANDBOOK is available as an online version only. There are currently no plans to publish a hard copy, however, a pdf version of the seqr HANDBOOK will be available in early 2010.
7 This Introduction offers basic instruction in the use of the HANDBOOK , as well as a history and description of the nature of the seqr law. It also discusses the concept of reasonableness as it applies to seqr . Chapters I through VIII contain guidelines on specific seqr issues as well as detailed explanations of the seqr process. They are organized by topic to parallel the sequential steps in the required procedures (generally paralleling the regulations and the seqr Cookbook). They also include special sections on how local land use procedures relate to seqr plus the relationship of any other review procedures that relate to seqr . Chapter IX briefly reviews significant court decisions on seqr . Whenever possible, subjects are cross-referenced to other portions of the HANDBOOK , to Article 8, or to Part 617. User Tips: Each topic is addressed through a series of questions and answers.
8 1 Before reading about a particular topic, skim all the questions pertaining to the topic to quickly gain a sense of related issues. While reading about specific issues in the HANDBOOK , it is always advisable to keep the following basic principles about seqr in mind: Have you determined what the whole action is? Have all the relevant environmental impacts been considered? If an environmental impact statement is required, has the appropriate range of alternatives been considered, including the "no action" alternative? Have you complied with all the steps in the seqr process? Is the information about the action, and its analysis, reasonable and adequate? In concept, seqr is a simple and logical evaluation process. However, it does have its own vocabulary of terms and specific required forms. To assist State and local governmental agencies, and the public at large about seqr , the DEC has posted a great deal of information on the DEC seqr website including the regulations (6 NYCRR Part 617), brochures, the seqr Cookbook, this HANDBOOK and other seqr related materials.
9 Where to find more information: If, after you have explored the on-line information, you still have questions or need clarification on some aspect of the seqr process, feel free to contact us. There is an "e-mail us" link on the right hand side of each of the seqr web pages. This will allow you to contact the seqr staff directly. Questions may also be addressed to: seqr Coordinator Division of environmental Permits NYSDEC 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-1750 Telephone 518- 402-9167 E-mail Training for local government agencies is offered through the Department of State , Division of Local Government Services. They can be contacted at: New York State Department of State Division of Local Government Services 41 State Street Albany, NY 12231-0001 Telephone: (518) 473-3355 Fax: (518) 474-6572 In addition, the Association of Towns, the bar associations, the Planning Federation and Regional Planning Groups, academic organizations and private trainers periodically offer seqr training for local government officials and the general public.
10 2 B. What is the Purpose of the Act? When it enacted seqr , the New York State Legislature stated that its intent was: "..to declare a State policy which will encourage productive and enjoyable harmony between man and his environment; to promote efforts which will prevent or eliminate damage to the environment and enhance human and community resources; and to enrich the understanding of the ecological systems, natural, human and community resources important to the people of the State ." seqr establishes a process to systematically consider environmental factors early in the planning stages of actions that are directly undertaken, funded or approved by local, regional and State agencies. By incorporating environmental review early in the planning stages, projects can be modified as needed to avoid adverse impacts on the environment. C. What Are the Key Elements? seqr is both a procedural and a substantive law.