Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner

Lead Agency Dispute: Saratoga Springs City Council v. the Village of Ballston Spa

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner's Determination of Lead Agency Under Article 8 of the Environmental Conservation Law

Project: A proposal by the City of Saratoga Springs to construct a multi-use path (Geyser Road Multi-use Trail Project) along the north side of Geyser Road within the City of Saratoga territorial limits.

Disputing Agencies: Saratoga Springs City Council (the City) and the Village of Ballston Spa (the Village).

I have been asked to designate a lead agency to conduct an environmental review of the Geyser Road Multi-use Trail Project under the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR; Article 8 of the New York State Environmental Conservation Law [ECL], with implementing regulations at Part 617 of Title 6 of the Official Compilation of Codes, Rules and Regulations of the State of New York [6 NYCRR Part 617]). This designation of the Saratoga Springs City Council to serve as lead agency is based on my finding that the Geyser Road Multi-use Trail Project location as well as the associated impacts of the project will occur entirely within the City and the City has broader governmental powers than the Village for investigation of impacts.

Action and Site

The City proposes to construct a) a multi-use trail along the northerly side of Geyser Road within the territorial boundaries of the City from the Town of Milton to the intersection of Geyser Road in the City, b) signal improvements at the intersection of Geyser Road and Cady Hill Road to provide a new pedestrian crossing, and c) intersection improvements at the intersection of Geyser Road and NYS Route 50 that would widen the Geyser Road approach to accommodate a left turn lane and provide new pedestrian crossing. The total area of construction is approximately 5.82 acres.

Regulatory Setting

The City is the project sponsor and has control over project funding, design, and construction. The Village's only approval for the project is a conveyance to the City of one quarter acre of land from a larger parcel owned by the Village within territorial limits of the City. The action requires approvals from other involved agencies but only the Village is a disputing party.

Discussion

In resolving a lead agency dispute, under 6 NYCRR Part 617.6(b)(5)(v), I am guided by the three criteria listed in order of importance as follows:

  1. whether the anticipated impacts of the action being considered are primarily of statewide, regional or local significance (i.e., if such impacts are of primarily local significance, all other considerations being equal, the local agency involved will be lead agency);
  2. which agency has the broadest governmental powers for investigation of the impacts of the proposed action; and
  3. which agency has the greatest capability for providing the most thorough environmental assessment of the proposed action.

My designation of a lead agency must be based strictly on applying these criteria to the facts of each individual case.

First Criterion

The first criterion favors the City to be designated as lead agency for the Geyser Road Multi-use Trail Project. The impacts are primarily of local significance, and include, as a practical matter, adverse impacts from construction such as potential stormwater runoff, traffic, dust and noise. Although the City and the Village are both local agencies, the action would occur completely within the territorial limits of the City. The Village asserts that its watershed and water supply is located on the parcel of land it owns within the City and then states that an increase in pedestrian and bike traffic in close proximity to the Village's water supply is of concern to the Village Board. The Village does not elaborate on the basis for or affects from this concern and the City has indicated its intention to evaluate the Village's water supply concern in its review.

Second Criterion

The second criterion favors the City. The City can bring to bear the broadest governmental powers for investigation of impacts from the Geyser Road Multi-use Trail Project since the City proposes to construct the trail entirely within the territorial limits of the City. In contrast, the Village's authority is limited to an approval for the transfer of one quarter acre of land to the City. Also, the City notes that it is the recipient of Federal, state, regional and local governmental funding and that the City's various governmental agencies all have governmental powers to assist in the investigation of impacts. Furthermore, as the project sponsor, the City has significant authority to investigate impacts and then to impose substantive changes or conditions on the project to avoid or minimize the impacts that are identified during the environmental review.

Third Criterion

Inasmuch as the first two criteria favor the City, I need not address the third criteria.

Finding

I conclude, based on the first and second criterion, that the Saratoga Springs City Council should be designated as lead agency for the review of the Geyser Road Multi-use Trail Project.

In designating the Saratoga Springs City Council to serve as lead agency, this decision in no way limits the jurisdiction or responsibilities of the other involved and interested agencies - particularly the Village of Ballston Spa, and I encourage the City to seek the views of the Village - particularly with respect to potential impacts to the Village's water supply - as well as any other involved or interested agencies in evaluating potential impacts, if any, and developing viable alternatives to mitigate or avoid any identified significant adverse impacts.

Dated: June 22, 2017
/s/ Basil Seggos, Commissioner
Albany, New York

Distribution of Copies
Disputing Agencies/Applicant
John Romano, Mayor, Village of Ballston Spa
Jim Fauci, Esq., Village of Ballston Spa Attorney
Mark Schachner, Esq., Miller, Mannix, Schachner & Hafner, LLC,
Land Use Planning and Zoning Special Counsel to the City of Saratoga Springs

Potential Interested Agencies/Parties
Marc Migliore, Regional Permit Administrator, DEC Region 5 (e-copy)

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
Lawrence H. Weintraub, Office of General Counsel, Central Office (e-copy)

  • Contact for this Page
  • NYS DEC
    Division of Environmental Permits
    4th Floor
    625 Broadway
    Albany, NY 12233-1750
    518-402-9167
    Send us an email
  • This Page Covers
  • Page applies to all NYS regions