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The Lead Agency Has Discretion to Require A Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement

In Matter of Oyster Bay Associates Limited Partnership v. Town Board of Town of Oyster Bay the Second Department upheld the denial of a special permit. This case has a seven year litigation history with multiple decisions by the Supreme Court and Appellate Division addressing the SEQRA review for a proposed 860,000 square foot mall and an alternate proposal for a 750,000 square foot mall.

The Town had an environmental review committee (TEQR Commission) review the proposal and issue findings under SEQRA recommending approval of the 860,000 square foot mall. The Town Board subsequently directed the TEQR Commission to rescind its findings which was done. Thereafter new SEQRA findings were issued and the application was denied. On appeal the courts remanded the matter for further consideration of a proposal to reduce the mall to 750,000 square feet. The Town then undertook the additional review and, based upon information it identified post-FEIS, directed the applicant to prepare a SEIS and submit plans for a 750,000 square foot mall. Instead the petitioner sued to compel the Town to adopt the original favorable TEQR findings.

In this most recent incarnation, the Appellate Division upheld the Town’s actions noting: “the Town Board properly identified the post-FEIS submissions which supported its deviation from the TEQR Commission’s SEQRA findings. The Town Board demonstrated that the post-FEIS submissions identified areas such as traffic impacts, impacts on existing retail facilities, and impacts on residential real estate values in the surrounding area which supported its determination.” Further holding that “the Supreme Court erred in determining that the Town Board’s request that the petitioners prepare an SEIS was arbitrary and capricious. The Town Board, as the lead agency, “may require a supplemental EIS, limited to the specific significant adverse environmental impacts not addressed or inadequately addressed in the EIS that arise from: (a) changes proposed for the project; or (b) newly discovered information; or (c) a change in circumstances related to the project” (6 NYCRR 617.9 [a] [7] [i]; Matter of Riverkeeper, Inc. v Planning Bd. of Town of Southeast, 9 NY3d at 231).”

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