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Court Finds “Reasoned Elaboration” In EAF Supports SEQRA Negative Declaration

The Appellate Division held that where an EAF identified either neutral or beneficial effects from a proposed zoning amendment a town board, acting as a lead agency, properly issued a negative declaration. In Matter of Matter of Gabrielli v Town of New Paltz, the Court noted that even though the zoning amendment was a SEQRA Type I action there was no need to prepare a DEIS.

However, in what appears to be somewhat of a departure from the standard for the findings of a lead agency to contain a “reasoned elaboration” supporting the negative declaration, the Court found:

“The negative declarations – adopted by resolutions of the Town Board – satisfied the requirement for “a written form containing a reasoned elaboration” for the determination and references to supporting documentation (6 NYCRR 617.7 [b] [4]). Although the resolutions themselves do not contain sufficient elaboration, they specifically refer to the EAF [FN1]. The EAF here consists of more than just checked boxes; the expanded additional comments on the EAF constitute a reasoned elaboration for the areas identified as potentially being affected by the floodplain laws (compare Matter of Troy Sand & Gravel Co., Inc. v Town of Nassau, 82 AD3d at 1379; Matter of Bauer v County of Tompkins, 57 AD3d 1151, 1153 [2008]). Because those comments relate to beneficial impacts, with no adverse impacts having been raised, the Town Board complied with its obligations under SEQRA.”

-Steven M. Silverberg