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SEQRA Conditional Negative Declaration Supported by the Record

The Appellate Division upheld a SEQRA conditional negative declaration, as well as variances and site plan approval to construct a hotel. In Matter of Schaller v. Town of New Platz Zoning Board of Appeals et. al., the Court found the determinations of both the planning board and zoning board of appeals were fully supported by the record and findings of the boards.

“Here, a review of the record establishes that the Planning Board conducted a two-year coordinated SEQRA review of the application which included, among other things, consultation with traffic engineers; review of the expanded long form environmental assessment form, visual assessment form, traffic studies and related submissions; compliance with the comprehensive master plan, an architectural study, a water system and sewage report, and drainage and storm water impact studies; consideration of input from various interested agencies, as well as public comments and concerns received from public hearings and Planning Board meetings, and submissions by interested parties. The Planning Board conditioned the negative declaration on the applicant’s compliance with various mitigating measures designed to minimize potential environmental impacts, including constructing turn lanes, upgrading traffic signals, adding traffic signage, retention of certain trees for aesthetic purposes and construction of a previously approved water line loop/extension for water supply and sewer purposes. The Planning Board specifically noted the various environmental impacts it considered in reaching its determination and it took a hard look before concluding that the project would not have a significant impact on the environment. The Planning Board also provided detailed reasoning and elaboration for its determination in the negative declaration with regard to the lack of significant impacts on traffic and transportation, aesthetics resources, water and sewage resources, endangered species, historic resources, community character and services, and energy resources. ”

Likewise, the Court found the zoning board had properly weighed and balanced the issues before it determined to grant the requested height variance.

“Here, the ZBA addressed the requisite statutory factors in approving the proposed six-foot height variance after a review of various qualified recommendations, studies and public input. In balancing the benefits to the applicant against the possible detriment to the community, the ZBA specifically referred to documentation in support of its conclusions that, among other things, the variance was not substantial when compared to the nearby buildings, would improve the physical and environmental condition and character of the neighborhood, and was the minimum variance required to promote energy efficiency for both the applicant and the community. As substantial evidence in the record supports the rationale for the ZBA’s determination granting the variance, it will not be disturbed (see Matter of Sarat v Town of Preble Zoning Bd. of Appeals, 93 AD3d 921, 922 [2012]; Matter of Defreestville Area Neighborhood Assn., Inc. v Planning Bd. of Town of N. Greenbush, 16 AD3d 715, 724-725 [2005]).”

-Steven M. Silverberg

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