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City of Poughkeepsie Planning Board v. Historic District and Landmarks

Lead Agency Dispute

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

PROJECT: Construction by A. Symmetries & Associates, Inc. of 18 Townhouse/Condominium Units in City of Poughkeepsie

This decision to designate, as lead agency, the City of Poughkeepsie Planning Board (hereinafter referred to as "the Planning Board") is made pursuant to 6NYCRR 617.6(e). My determination is based on the fact that the Planning Board, due to the broader powers inherent in the site plan review process, more appropriately meets the criteria for lead agency enumerated at 6NYCRR 617.6(d)(1).

The proposed action is the construction by A. Symmetries & Associates, Inc. of 18 townhouse/ condominium units to be known as Academy Mews at 154 Academy Street in the City of Poughkeepsie, Dutchess County. The site is located within the Academy Street Historic District, which is a designated site on the National and State Registers of Historic Places.

On April 24, 1986, the Planning Board mailed a notice to the other potential involved agencies declaring its intention to act as lead agency for the application by A. Symmetries & Associates, Inc. The City of Poughkeepsie Historic District and Landmarks Preservation Commission (hereinafter referred to as "the HDLPC"), by a letter dated May 14, 1986, objected to the Planning Board acting as lead agency and expressed its desire to act as the lead agency. A meeting between the two agencies held on May 27, 1986 failed to resolve the issue.

In light of the inability of the two agencies to agree on lead agency, the Planning Board, in a letter dated May 27, 1986, requested that pursuant to 6NYCRR 617.6(e) the Commissioner of Environmental Conservation resolve the dispute. In a letter dated June 3, 1986, the HDLPC joined in this request.

According to 6NYCRR 617.6(d)(1), in resolving lead agency disputes, I must consider the location of the anticipated impacts; the breadth of the applicable jurisdiction; and the capability of each agency for providing a thorough environmental assessment.

Since the proposed action will occur within the City of Poughkeepsie, the location of the anticipated impacts will be identical for both agencies. The next criteria to consider is the breadth of the agencies' jurisdiction in the process. It is here that a clear distinction is present. The Planning Board, through the site plan approval process, must consider all aspects of the proposed project including: its conformance with the City of Poughkeepsie's comprehensive plan; its compatibility with the surrounding area; and the adequacy of the proposed traffic, drainage, water and sewer systems. In comparison, the jurisdiction of the HDLPC is limited to the compatibility of the proposed action to the existing historic district. Finally, I find that the Planning Board has the greater capability necessary for providing a thorough environmental review since it claims to have conducted numerous such reviews and the HDLPC concedes it has not.

Based on a careful consideration of all the facts presented, I find that the greater breadth of review powers inherent in the site plan review process makes the Planning Board the agency best suited to act as lead agency for the A. Symmetries & Associates, Inc. application.

This decision does not in any manner limit or minimize the authority of the HDLPC to approve, modify and approve or disapprove plans for development within the Academy Street Historic District; to prescribe conditions under which the proposed work shall be done; and to make recommendations as to the performance of such work. The determination of the project's compatibility to the historic district is an important consideration in the overall project review. The nature of the proposed project demands that the expertise of the HDLPC be available to allow the lead agency to make an informed decision on the action.

Henry G. Williams Commissioner
Dated: June 25, 1986
Albany, New York

Distribution of Copies:

  • J. Kane, Chairman, Historic District & Landmarks Preservation Commission
  • M. Kirshon, Attorney, A. Symmetries & Associates, Inc.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation:

  • L. Marsh
  • J. Corr
  • L. Concra
  • M. Gerstman
  • J. Jensen
  • G. Bowers
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