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 second post in our series examining the proposed amendments. The focus of this post are the threshold modifications to the Type I list of actions.
Type I actions (Part 617.4) are acts presumed to be of potential environmental significance. As a result, a lead agency is required to complete a full environmental assessment form for each such action and coordinate review between agencies. Type I also includes thresholds after which actions that would otherwise be designated as “Unlisted” are elevated to Type I actions. The proposed amendments to Part 617 would amend these thresholds with respect to three issues.
First, the proposed amendments would lower the threshold for the number of residential units in cities, towns and villages of various population levels, as the current thresholds were found to be so high that they were rarely triggered. Specifically, the threshold for populations of 150,000 or less would be lowered from 250 to 200, the threshold for populations of 150,001 to 1,000,000 would be reduced from 1,000 units to 500 units, and the threshold for populations over 1,000,000 would be lowered from 2,500 to 1,000 units. These limits are expected to capture various large projects that would otherwise proceed as Unlisted, encourage greater public input, and ensure coordination between reviewing agencies.
Second, the proposed amendments would change the parking space threshold, which is currently 1000 vehicles, to include a lower threshold for smaller municipalities. Under the proposal, the threshold would remain 1000 vehicles for a city, town, or village with a population over 150,000, but drop to 500 vehicles for municipalities with less than 150,000 persons. Based on the gross floor area typically associated with parking requirements at this level, the proposal is expected to impact only a small number of projects that wouldn’t otherwise be categorized as Type I.
Finally, the proposed amendments would add a threshold for historic resources, designating Unlisted actions in close proximity to historic resources as Type I actions. It would also include properties that have been determined by the Commissioner of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation as eligible for listing on the State Register of Historic Places. This aligns SEQRA’s methodologies with the federal equivalents, as the State Historic Preservation Act was modelled on the federal National Historic Preservation Act.
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.