DEC Proposes Amendments To SEQRA Regulations, Part Four: Additions To The Type II List – Cellular and Broadband

Earlier this year, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation ("DEC") proposed amendments to the regulations implementing the State Environmental Quality Review Act ("SEQRA”), currently codified in 6 NYCRR Part 617. This the fourth post in our series examining the proposed amendments.  The focus of this post is the Type II list of actions, particularly proposals to relating to cell towers and broadband.

As noted in previous posts, Type II actions (Part 617.5) are actions or classes of actions “which have been determined not to have a significant effect on the environment and which do not require environmental impact statements.”  The goal is to accelerate the SEQRA review process by categorically excluding actions that almost invariably receive negative declarations.

Like with the energy improvements discussed in our last post, many of the proposed additions to the Type II list are intended to encourage other state policy goals.  The actions relating to cellular and broadband service follow this pattern as well, by promoting measures to expand coverage.  For example, the proposed amendments add the installation of fiber-optic or other broadband cable technology in existing highway or utility rights of way to the list of Type II actions.  This would remove hurdles to greater installation of high-speed broadband service, a priority for the state as an essential component of promoting job growth and competitive industries.

The proposed amendments also add the co-location of cellular antennas and repeaters to the list of Type II actions, providing that the existing structure on which they are installed is not a designated as historic place under state or national registries.  This change better conforms the co-location procedures with federal law, while removing the need, in some cases, for the installation of an additional transmission tower.

DEC will hold a public hearing on the regulations on March 31, 2017, and be accept comments on the proposed amendments until May 19, 2017. Drafts of the proposed amendments and additional information on submitting comments is available on the DEC website.

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