Author Topic: Exactly what is a SEQR Review and why does it matter to the EEIP Program  (Read 118 times)

Doug K

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There's been a enough talk about this State Environmental Quality Review or SEQR as it's known by, to create it's own forum subject on the Erie Canal Neighbors Association website. Some people used the SEQR Act to stop the EERP project that was dedicated to public safety, it's not a process to be taken lightly. Here's what the SEQR Act is all about in New York

SEQR Introduction:

SEQR Process Flow Map:

Seems the real issue at hand was whether the NY Canal Corporation was correct in their declaration that the Canal Embankment Restoration Project was a "maintenance activity on a flood control structure (ie:dam) or were they arbitrarily clearing "open land".

The Canal Corp said the SEQR was a Type 2  which did not require a full SEQR Environmental Impact Statement Form completion, some folks in Town of Brighton, Pittsford & Perinton thought differently and convinced a Court to halt work there until a full SEQR could be done. So the NY Canal Corp took the cue, and cut these three towns off the original project plan, and also started their new PROGRAM supporting Embankment Integrity & Safety.

So how does SEQR work and what does this EIS form look like?

It was tough, but I condensed the 37 pages of the EERP SEQR forms to three pictures I will share here. SEQR uses several form, sectioned into neat little parts, to help the person reviewing the location or area being worked on, think about what is occurring there. It's a checklist of sorts that focuses your thought on key areas to help understand the impact of the work on the surrounding environment.

SEQR seems to cover just about everything that could happen or be seen in work of this kind. Here's the 3 Main parts of the SEQR process, starting with Part 3 first, that is the Environmental Impact Statement that is the GOAL of the whole SEQR effort.


This section defines the actual work to be done and a description of the area around it. It sets the sage so to speak for Part 2


This section covers 18 different areas of concern to consider when doing the work outlined in Part 1, it's the nuts and bolt of the SEQR analysis. This is where the determination is made of impacts to everything from land to animals to humans. It looks at the time during the work, while also considering the long term affects of the work being done.

So you know, there are sections in the SEQR documents specific to Dams, Wetlands, Pollution & Privacy, it leaves no stone unturned. And now it is required on the new EEIP Program moving along the rest of the 260 miles of Erie Main waterline still left to do. There are still about 90 miles of Earthen Embankments still left to address with the new Embankment Integrity Program... and "missing" SEQR will not be an issue

Since the SEQR was done "post large vegetation removal" in the EERP project the NY Canal Corp took a "restoration" approach, deciding to replant barriers (per what would have been SEQR requirements) and as desired by the neighboring property owners. Mostly this SEQR re-screening requirement falls under Sections 9 & 15 of SEQR Part 2.

And for those keeping score... the New York Canal Corporation was RIGHT about not needing the SEQR Form Statement as their assessment that Embankment Remediation is a Type 2 action was verified by NY DEC in October 2018.

Type II actions:

Type II actions listed in the statewide and agency SEQR regulations are determined not to have a significant adverse impact on the environment. Some examples:

1) rebuilding or replacement of facilities, in kind, on the same site
2) minor structures, such as garages, barns or home swimming pools, routine permit and license renewals with no substantial change in permitted activities
3) construct or expand either primary or accessory nonresidential structures in an appropriate zone with less than 4,000 square feet of gross floor space construct or expand a single, two or three family residence on approved lot
4) routine activities of educational institutions, including expansions of existing facilities by less than 10,000 square feet
nondiscretionary (ministerial) approvals
5)maintenance and repair activities
6)emergency actions

7)actions of the New York State Legislature and the Governor or of any court enforcement actions
8)actions subject to environmental review under the Adirondack Park Agency or Public Service Laws.