The Appellate Division found that a local law amending certain land use regulations was void as it was adopted without taking the required “hard Look” under the State environmental Quality Review Act SEQRA. In Matter of Prand Corp v. Town Board of the Town of East Hampton, the court found that, in this case, the issuance of a negative declaration after review of only a short form EAF did not constitute a “hard look’ and affirmed the lower court’s voiding of the local law for failure to comply with SEQRA.
In 2005 the town had adopted a comprehensive plan. Thereafter, there was a proposal to implement certain amendments and the town created a committee to undertake a review and make recommendations as to possible changes in the regulations. The committee made recommendations to modify the regulations by requiring, in certain zones, that more land would be set aside for open space in subdivisions and for relaxing land clearing regulations in those subdivisions. The town board, as lead agency, adopted a SEQRA negative declaration after reviewing a short form EAF. It then adopted the recommended zoning amendments.
In upholding the lower court, the Appellate Division noted the limited scope of judicial review but found:
“Here, a review of the EAF reveals that Local Law No. 25, particularly the more liberal land-clearing allowances permitted thereby, implicates several of the criteria used to determine if a proposed action will have a significant adverse impact on the environment, including, inter alia: (1) a substantial increase in the potential for soil erosion, flooding and drainage problems; (2) the removal of large quantities of vegetation; (3) substantial interference with natural resources in the area; (4) the creation of a material conflict with the community's comprehensive plan; (5) impairment of the existing character of the community; and (6) a substantial increase in the intensity of the land use (see 6 NYCRR 617.7[c]).”