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SEQRA Does Not Preclude a Revote on a Findings Statement

When a findings statement fails to pass, SEQRA does not preclude a reconsideration of the exact same findings statement at a later date. In the Matter of East End Property Company #1 LLC v. Town Board of the Town of Brookhaven, the Appellate Division found that there was nothing in the SEQRA regulations which precluded such reconsideration.

In a case involving the construction of a power generator various land use approvals were required. Prior to issuing the approvals the Town Board voted on a proposed SEQRA findings statement which would have permitted the project to move forward. The findings statement failed to be adopted by a 4-3 vote. The matter was kept open on the Town Board agenda during which there were additional discussions over the next few meetings of the Board. Ultimately the matter came up for a vote again and was approved with one of the members indicating his concerns had been addressed.

The challenge to the approval was initially sustained by the lower court finding that the Town Board had failed to articulate the reason for adopting the SEQRA findings. The Appellate Division found that since the findings resolution was not amended there was nothing that requires an explanation of the revote or that precluded the revote. Rather, SEQRA requires a written findings statement and the revote approved a written findings statement which complied with the mandate of SEQRA. The court noted: “the Town Board’s determination to adopt, rather than reject, the resolution to approve the SEQRA findings statement was neither arbitrary nor capricious, but was based on reasons readily apparent on the face of the record.”

The Court’s reliance on the fact that the resolution was not amended implies that had there been a modification of the findings statement some explanation would have been required. Ultimately, the decision underscores the need for findings statements to clearly articulate the reasons for actions by an administrative board.

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