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Town of Champlain v. Clinton County v. DEC

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: Development of 108-unit mobile home park by Roswell Beeman on 38.6 acres of land on Rapids Road in the Town of Champlain in Clinton County

DISPUTING AGENCIES: Town of Champlain Town Board
Clinton County Health Department
New York State Department of Environmental
Conservation Region 5

This decision to designate the Town of Champlain Town Board as lead agency for the conduct of an environmental review under the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) process is made pursuant to Article 8 of the Environmental Conservation Law and 6 NYCRR 617. I find that the potential impacts from the construction of the proposed 108-lot mobile home park are primarily local in nature and will be confined entirely in the Town of Champlain.

The subject of this dispute is the proposed construction by Roswell Beeman of a 108-lot mobile home park on 38.6 acres of land on Rapids Road within the Town of Champlain. None of the involved agencies desired lead agency status for this project.

The Town of Champlain adopted a ten-month moratorium on August 4, 1992 on the construction of industrial or commercial buildings and the placement of year-round or seasonal single-wide mobile homes or camp trailers with certain exceptions not applicable here. The purpose of the moratorium is to allow the Town to develop a comprehensive land use plan and land use control law. The moratorium also contains a variance provision. It is within the power of the Town Board to modify or vary the application of any provision of the moratorium after determining that the moratorium would impose extraordinary hardship on an applicant and the proposed project will not adversely affect the health, safety, or general welfare of the Town.

In order to construct the proposed project, the applicant must obtain a variance from the Town of Champlain's moratorium, approval from the Clinton County Health Department for the septic systems and centralized water supply, and a State Pollution Elimination Discharge System (SPDES) permit from the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) for the discharge to groundwater of the septic system leachate..My decision must be based on the three criteria listed in order of importance in 6 NYCRR paragraph 617.6(e)(5). These are: (1) whether the anticipated impacts are primarily of local, regional or statewide significance; (2) which agency has the broadest powers for investigation of potential impacts; and (3) which agency has the greatest ability to provide a thorough environmental assessment of the proposed action.

Review of the first criterion based on the documentation submitted shows that the areas of environmental concern are: 108 septic systems on a 38.6 acre parcel; additional traffic on a town road; surface water drainage along Rapids Road; construction related impacts such as noise, dust, trucks, etc.; addition of 108 families to a farming area; and land use concerns. There are no regional or statewide impacts from the proposed action and all of the anticipated impacts are primarily local in nature.

The second criterion for consideration is which agency has the broadest powers for investigation of the potential impacts. The Town has the greatest jurisdiction to conduct the environmental review because the issuance of the variance to the moratorium is a fundamental land use determination based upon the Town's proposed land use controls, while the other involved agency jurisdictions are simply a matter of demonstrating compliance with standards.

The third criterion relates to the capacity of an agency to provide for a thorough environmental assessment. All of the involved agencies possess the ability to conduct the environmental review either through the use of present staff or by obtaining the services of a consultant.

I conclude, based on the facts presented, that the Town Board of the Town of Champlain best serves the function of lead agency for conduct of the environmental review for the proposed mobile home park of 108 lots on 38.6 acres due to the fact that the potential environmental effects of this development of the parcel will have a greater effect on the surrounding land uses in the Town of Champlain.

This decision does not in any way change or limit the jurisdiction of any of the involved agencies or minimize their responsibilities to review the whole action. The Town of Champlain, as lead agency, must coordinate its review with the DEC Region 5 office and the Clinton County Health Department and subsequently make a determination to either prepare an EIS or a negative declaration.

Thomas C. Jorling, Commissioner
Albany, New York


  • Gerald Mayo, Town Supervisor
    Robert Forester, Environmental Analyst 2
    Ed Snizek, Director Environmental Health
    Langdon Marsh, Deputy Commissioner
    Marc Gerstman, Chief Counsel
    Gail Kamaras, SEQR Counsel
    Jeff Sama, SEQR Coordinator
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