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County of Suffolk v. Town of Southold

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

PROJECT: Reconstruction of Three Bridges at Mud, Downs and West Creeks in Town of Southold, NY

1. Pursuant to the provisions of 6 NYCRR Part 617.6(e), when agencies involved in carrying out or approving an action that is subject to Article 8 of the Environmental Conservation Law ("SEQR") are unable to agree on which agency shall be the lead agency, any involved agency may submit the question to the Commissioner of Environmental Conservation, who shall, within 12 business days, designate a lead agency on the basis of the criteria contained in 6 NYCRR Part 617.6(d).

2. In a letter dated September 17, 1980, the County of Suffolk indicated that all involved agencies in the subject project have been unable to mutually agree upon the designation of a lead agency and, therefore, requested the Commissioner of this Department to designate a lead agency. Specifically, the County references the following:

a) July 28, 1980 - letter from the Region 1 Office of the Department of Environmental Conservation acknowledging the County's intent to assume lead agency status.

b) July 23, 1980 - letter from the Southold Town Conservation Advisory Council requesting lead agency status for the Town of Southold.

The County's request for lead agency status is based on the following contentions:

  • maintenance of the three subject bridges is the responsibility of the County Department of Public Works
  • the project requires no permits or approvals from the Town of Southold
  • the County has the broadest governmental powers for investigation into the impacts of the project and greatest capability for providing the most thorough environmental assessments

3. In a letter dated September 24, 1980, copied to the Commissioner of this Department, the Town of Southold reiterated its desire for lead agency status because of the environmental sensitivity of the subject areas. Further, the Town indicated and documented its permit authority in the action. Specifically, a wetlands permit is required from the Town Board, under Chapter 97 of the Code of the Town of Southold, and a permit from the Board of Trustees, pursuant to: Chapter 615 of the Law of the State of New York 93, Chapter 404 of the Laws of the State of New York 1952, and Chapter 32 of the Town Code regulating certain construction excavation and other activities in Town lands that are under water.

These authorizations clearly express the Town's concern over activities which might impact local wetlands, including under water lands.

4. In a letter dated September 29, 1980 to the Commissioner of this Department, the County presented a number of documents generally describing both the County SEQR review process and specific review measures taken, to date, on the subject project. The letter also stated that, based on the review conducted so far, the County intends to issue a positive declaration on the subject project if designated as lead agency. Further, the County indicates that it would hold a meeting with the Town to develop the scope of the required environmental impact statement.

5. The above noted correspondence from the County and the Town indicates concern for the following potential impacts:

Local concerns

  • damage to Town-owned tidal wetlands from construction activities
  • change in neighborhood character resulting from changes to traffic patterns

Regional concerns

  • highway safety improvements as a result of the proposed projects

6. Based on all of the above described correspondence and the lead agency determination criteria in 6NYCRR 617.6(d), the following conclusions can be made:

  • The anticipated impacts of the proposed action are primarily of local significance, affecting the Town environment.
  • Both the County and the Town have indicated their intent to require an EIS if designated as lead agency. Therefore, both agencies and the public are assured of a full environ- mental review process.
  • The Commissioner recognizes that the County has been directly involved in the planning of the proposed action and, therefore, may be best equipped to incorporate background material and project specifics into the EIS. However, as project sponsor, the County will have the responsibility of preparing the EIS regardless of lead agency designation.

Therefore, based on the merits of this particular case, it is determined that the Town of Southold is hereby designated lead agency for the purposes of SPQR review of the subject project.

/s/
M. Peter Lanahan
Dated: October 8, 1980
Albany, New York

Distribution of Copies

  • Hon. William R. Pell III - Southold Town Supervisor
  • Judith T. Terry - Southold Town Clerk
  • Frank A. Cichanowicz III - Southold Town Conservation Advisory Council Chairman
  • Hon. Peter F. Cohalan - Suffolk County Executive
  • James F. Bagg - Suffolk County Council on Environmental Quality
  • Rudolph Kammerer - Suffolk County Commissioner, Department of Public Works

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

  • R. Persico - Central Office
  • L. Concra - Central Office
  • J. Jensen - Central Office
  • D. Ruzow - Central Office
  • D. Middleton - Region 1 Office
  • D. Larkin - Region 1 Office

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    Albany, NY 12233-1750
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