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Department of Environmental Conservation Updates Regulations on SEQR

New regulations sign to highlight first major update on DEC SEQR regulations

On June 28, 2018, New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced updates to regulations regarding the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR). These changes will make a number of types of green building and retrofitting projects easier to complete, but they will also increase review requirements on certain residential development projects or projects with substantial parking requirements. Read on to learn more about these changes, and contact a New York environmental attorney for more information.

SEQR will classify an action as Type I if it falls into a category that has been determined to be more likely to have a negative impact on the environment, or if it is an action that would otherwise be Type II had it not exceeded a certain numeric threshold. Type I actions are required to complete a full Environmental Assessment Form and obtain a coordinated review between all agencies implicated by the project. Type II actions are exempt from SEQR review, as regulators have concluded that these actions will not have a substantial impact on the environment. The updates to the regulations largely fall into two categories: classifying a greater number of actions as Type II actions, and lowering the numeric thresholds that will result in a classification of an action as a Type I action.

Actions that have been added to the list of Type II actions include:

  • Installation of solar energy systems involving less than 25 acres on existing structures, as well as wastewater treatment facilities, sites that have been zoned for industrial use, parking lots, closed landfills, and cleaned-up brownfield sites
  • Lot line adjustments
  • Replacement, reconstruction, or rehabilitation aimed at bringing the building into compliance with energy codes, so long as no Type I thresholds have been exceeded
  • Retrofitting an existing structure to include so-called “green infrastructure”

Several types of actions will now have lower thresholds to be classified as a Type I action, including certain residential projects and vehicle parking projects. The number of units required for a project to be classified as Type I will vary based on the size of the village, town, or city in which the project will be located. An environmental attorney can help you determine if your project will now be required to complete an Environmental Assessment Form and obtain a full review prior to starting.

The changes to the SEQR regulations are the first alterations made to these laws in over twenty years. The changes are slated to take effect on January 1, 2019. The new regulations will apply to any project that has not received a determination of significance prior to that date, and existing regulations will govern projects that received significance determinations prior to the start of 2019.

If you need seasoned, knowledgeable assistance with an issue related to New York environmental litigation, toxic torts, or insurance defense, contact the Law Offices of Richard A. Fogel, P.C. at 516-721-7161.

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