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Town of Webster 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: Donald Scordo Subdivision, 243 Inspiration Point Road, Town of Webster, Monroe County

This decision to designate the Planning Board of the Town of Webster as the 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 (ECL) and 6 NYCRR Part 617, the statewide regulations governing SEQR. My reasons are that the impacts are primarily local due to the limited scope of the project and that the Town of Webster Planning Board has the broadest governmental powers for investigation of the potential impacts of the proposed development.

The lead agency dispute between the Town of Webster Planning Board and Region 8 of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) arose in connection with an application received by the DEC Region 8 office for a two-lot, single-family residential subdivision in Devil's Cove on Irondequoit Bay. The applicant proposes demolishing an upper cottage and replacing it with a larger structure, renovating an existing structure, constructing a garage, installing a conventional seepage pit and individual septic system, installing two open-pile docks, installing a 6-inch watermain, and widening Pebble Beach Trail to include four parking spaces and snow storage area. The project is located within a 300-foot adjacent area of a freshwater wetland and within a natural protective feature as designed on the Coastal Erosion Hazard Area Map for the Town of Webster. The most permanent physical feature on the site is a steep bluff which has been identified as a natural protective feature and consists of SCS classified Arkport soils which are highly erodible. About 95% of the site has a slope of 15% or greater.

DEC Region 8 is also an involved agency because the project will require an Article 34 Coastal Erosion Management Permit and an Article 15 Protection of Waters Permit that must be approved and issued by the region. They have indicated in response to a lead agency solicitation by the Town of Webster Planning Board that, because of state and regional concerns, DEC Region 8 would prefer to assume lead agency responsibilities.

The Department considers Irondequoit Bay an important regional resource and Devills Cove has been identified as a significant fish and wildlife habitat with an extended adjacent area (300 feet) under 6NYCRR Part 66.47(d). Because of these concerns, the Region 8 staff has indicated, in support of their request for designation as lead agency, that some of the factors to be considered are: anticipated impacts upon Irondequoit Bay which is a regional resource; effects on Devil's Cove which is considered a resource of such regional importance that it has been recommended by Region 8 and Monroe County as a high priority for public acquisition under the Environmental Quality Bond Act; impacts of increased human intrusion into wildlife habitat; and increased erosion of the natural protective features.

In resolving a dispute about lead agency, I am guided by the three criteria listed in order of importance in 6NYCRR Section 617.6(e)(5). The first of these is determining whether the anticipated impacts are primarily of local, regional, or state-wide significance. As noted above, there is clear evidence of state and regional interest in potential impacts, particularly elating to Devills Cove and Irondequoit Bay. However, there are even more basic impacts relating to the subdivision of land. The issues of density, design and layout of development are primarily local land use issues.

The second criterion for consideration in resolving a lead agency dispute is which agency has the broadest powers for investigation of the potential impacts. The Town of Webster Planning Board must consider appropriate conditions which should be applied to its subdivision plan approvals. While DEC's approvals are of considerable importance to the creation of an environmentally sound development, they are secondary to the Town's power to consider overall development policies for the area. DEC staff has a responsibility to express its concerns and to participate as an involved agency in the process. This will be done in the review process for the issuance of the Article 34 Coastal Erosion Management Permit and the Article 15 Protection of Waters Permit. Additionally, the Department participates in multi-town/county project reviews through the Irondequoit Bay Coordinating Committee (IBCC). Projects are reviewed with consideration given to mutually adopted development measures prepared by the IBCC.

The third criterion in resolving a lead agency dispute is which agency has the greatest capability to provide a thorough environmental assessment of the proposed action. The proposed buildings are replacements for dilapidated structures that have been on the site for many years and are accessed by an existing road. The Town of Webster Planning Board has the greatest familiarity with the proposal due to the local nature of the application and its limited scope. The Planning Board, by resolution adopted May 19, 1992, has indicated that it believes a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) is required. It is chaired by a licensed professional engineer qualified to assess te impacts of the proposal. Coordinated inter-agency technical and other review resources will be done through the Irondequoit Bay Coordinating Committee.

I therefore conclude that, based upon all the facts presented, the Town of Webster Planning Board best serves the role as lead agency for conduct review under SEQR for the proposed Donald Scordo Subdivision project. This decision does not in any manner limit or minimize the responsibility of all other involved agencies to review this entire proposed action and to assist the Town of Webster Planning Board in completion of the environmental review process.

Thomas C. Jorling
Dated: July 22, 1992
Albany, New York

Distribution of Copies:

  • Gary G. Kleist, Commissioner, Dept. of Public Works, Town of Webster
    George R. Stafford, Director, Division of Coastal Resources and Waterfront Revitalization, NYS Dept. of State
    Rocco DiGiovanni, Chairperson, Irondequoit Bay Coordinating Committee, Monroe County Dept. of Planning and Development
    Matt DePietro, President of BASIC
    Albert Butkas, Regional Permit Administrator, DEC Region 8

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation:

  • T. Jorling
    L. Marsh
    M. Gerstman
    G. Kamaras
    J. Stallmer
    R. Shearer (Region 8)
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