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B. Required Notices and Filings

In This Section You Will Learn:

  • when public notices or filings are required under SEQR.

1. What is meant by "filing" and "notice" within the SEQR process?

Filing simply means providing a copy of a specific document. Notice refers to a specific, relatively brief document that summarizes an agency's decision at a step in the SEQR process, and is the method by which an agency advises other agencies and the public that a decision has been made during the SEQR process.

2. Are filing or notice requirements the same for all steps in the SEQR process?

No. See the individual discussions for each SEQR process step, and the "SEQR Filing and Distribution Summary" at the end of this chapter.

3. What filings or notices are required when classifying an action under SEQR?

For Type II actions, there are no filing or notice requirements. However, it is recommended practice to file a note or memo documenting the classification decision, since classification as Type II concludes the SEQR process.

For Unlisted actions, there are also no filing or notice requirements, as the classification must be noted in the agency's determination of significance.

For Type I actions, there are no formal filing requirements. However, the agency which initiates the required coordination for lead agency may indicate its proposed classification of the action in its coordination letter, and the lead agency must note the action's classification in the determination of significance. (This also applies to Unlisted actions being treated as Type I.)

4. What filings or notices are required to initiate coordination for lead agency under SEQR?

The agency which initiates coordinated review should send a coordination package to all potentially involved agencies. That package should include a cover letter indicating that the action has been proposed and that a lead agency must be established; a copy of Part 1 of the full environmental assessment form(EAF); a copy, or relevant sections, of the application received by the initiating agency; and location and plan maps showing the site and general layout of the proposed action. The initiating agency should send copies of enough application materials and maps that responding agencies can clearly understand the proposed action, but does not need to circulate full sets of voluminous applications.

5. When the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is identified as a potentially involved agency, where should lead agency coordination requests be sent?

When DEC is, or may be, an involved agency, the SEQR regulations [617.6(a)(3)(i)] (link leaves DEC website) require that lead agency coordination requests be sent to the appropriate regional DEC office.

6. What filings or notices are required for an agency to respond to a lead agency coordination request?

When another involved agency is willing to let the agency which initiates coordination serve as lead agency, the involved agency may reply simply that it agrees to let the initiating agency proceed. It is good practice, however, for the responding involved agency to describe its likely jurisdictions over the proposed action, and to articulate any issues or impacts which it believes need further study. Additionally, the responding agency should provide a copy of its letter to all other potentially involved agencies.

When another involved agency is unwilling to concur with the proposed lead agency, that agency may file a request that the DEC Commissioner designate the lead agency for the proposed action. The SEQR regulations [617.6(b)(5)] prescribe specific filings which must be made to request such a designation:

  • Any involved agency, or the applicant, may initiate designation of a lead agency by filing a letter of request with the Commissioner;
  • That letter must be copied to all involved agencies and the applicant;
  • The letter to the Commissioner and all copies must be sent by certified mail, or other form of receipted delivery; and
  • All responses to a request for lead agency designation must be copied to all other involved agencies.

7. What filings or notices are required for determinations of significance?

For negative declarations on Unlisted actions, the agency is only required to maintain a copy of the negative declaration in its own files. However, it is good practice to provide a copy of the negative declaration to the applicant and to any other involved agencies.

For a conditioned negative declaration (CND), the lead agency must publish a notice in the Environmental Notice Bulletin (ENB) which summarizes the conditions, and provide at least a 30 day public review period starting from the publication date.

For negative declarations on Type 1 actions, and for all positive declarations (including rescission of a negative declaration), the lead agency must retain a copy in its own files, and it must provide notice to, and file a copy of the declaration, with:

  • The chief executive officer of the political subdivision in which the action will be principally located;
  • Applicant, when there is one;
  • All involved agencies; and
  • Individuals or groups who have requested a copy.

The lead agency must also file the notice of that negative, or positive, declaration for publication in the ENB.

8. Since negative declarations for unlisted actions do not require any notice or publication, how can the public learn that these decisions have been made?

The SEQR regulations require that the SEQR classification and the agency's determination of significance must be incorporated, once, into any other subsequent notice required by law. Additionally, there are other means by which a concerned citizen or interest group can learn of decisions being made in their municipality. The most obvious is to attend the regular meetings of the municipal boards, or obtain copies of the meeting minutes of those boards. In the newspapers, legal notices are required for many board actions, plus many project sponsors will announce their plans for future development in the local papers, well in advance of the submission of formal applications. If a community group has concerns about particular types of projects, or areas within a municipality, that group can request to receive copies of notices or decisions related to those areas of concern.

For applications before the DEC or the Adirondack Park Agency (APA), "notices of complete application" for larger projects must be published in the ENB. Status of all applications before the DEC is available online.

9. Must notice of a negative declaration be incorporated in all subsequent notices about the action?

No. The SEQR regulations only require that notice of the filing of a negative declaration be published once, as long as there is some later notice required by law. This means that if the lead agency has a legal obligation to publish a notice about the proposed action after it issues its negative declaration, the notice should include a brief reference to the negative declaration. Only one subsequent notice needs to include this statement, not all subsequent notices.

10. What filings or notices are required for environmental impact statements (EISs)?

When a lead agency accepts a draft or final EIS, it must provide notice to, and file a copy of the EIS with the same parties that received the positive declaration:

  • The chief executive officer of the political subdivision in which the action will be principally located;
  • Applicant, when there is one;
  • All involved agencies; and
  • Individuals or groups who have requested a copy.

The lead agency must file a notice of acceptance of the draft or final EIS for publication in the ENB. The lead agency must also file a copy of the EIS with the DEC, Division of Environmental Permits; a copy on cd is acceptable. If the lead agency is a state agency, and the project is located within any coastal area, a copy must be provided to the NYS Department of State, Division of Coastal Resources. Additionally, the lead agency must arrange to post the EIS on a publicly accessible web site, unless impracticable.

If a lead agency has received an unreasonably large number of requests for copies of the EIS, the SEQR regulations allow the lead agency to file a copy of the EIS in the local library instead of providing individual copies. In such cases, it is good practice to also provide review copies at other publicly accessible locations in or near the project area, such as town offices.

11. Why isn't the project sponsor required to provide a free copy of the draft or final EIS to everyone who has requested a copy?

Sometimes, due to the size of a draft or final EIS, or the number of requests, it is not feasible for each person to be provided with a free copy. When demand exceeds supply, the lead agency should make sufficient copies of the document available for review at public offices and local libraries. The lead agency may require the project sponsor to provide an adequate number of EISs to fulfill all required filings as well as provide a reasonable number of additional copies for review by the general public. Where review copies are provided in an electronic format, the lead agency may still require hard copies of large format materials such as map or plan sheets.

12. If a document is voluminous, may the lead agency file only a summary with DEC?

No. All SEQR documents which must be filed with the DEC Commissioner, regardless of their size, must be provided in their entirety. However, the copy may be provided in an electronic format (such as a CD or DVD).

13. Is publication in the ENB required before the public review period for a draft EIS can begin?

No. The public comment period technically begins when the lead agency accepts the draft EIS as complete. However, it is good practice to calculate the public comment period based on the publication date.

14. What filings or notices are required for a hearing on a draft EIS?

When a lead agency decides to hold a hearing on a draft EIS, it must publish notice of that hearing in a newspaper of general circulation in the area of the proposed action. The lead agency may also provide notice via the ENB, or by other methods routinely used in that municipality. The hearing notice must appear at least 14 days before the date of the hearing. The notice must contain the date, time, place and purpose of the hearing, as well as a summary of the information that was contained in the notice of completion of the draft EIS. The notice of hearing may be combined with the notice of completion of the draft EIS.

15. Who pays for the costs of newspaper publication of the hearing notice?

The project sponsor is responsible for the cost of publication in the newspaper.

16. What filings or notices are required for SEQR findings?

When the lead agency and each involved agency issue their SEQR findings, those findings must be filed with the same parties that received the positive declaration and copies of the draft and final EISs. There are no notice requirements for SEQR findings.

17. Do any other decisions under SEQR require notice or filing?

Yes, adoption of local SEQR procedures and designation of a Critical Environmental Area (CEA) both require notice and filing (link leaves DEC website.)

To adopt or amend local SEQR procedures, an agency must first hold a public hearing on its proposed procedures, and then file its adopted procedures with the DEC Commissioner. DEC must provide notice of those adopted procedures in the ENB.

Before designating a CEA, an agency must first provide written public notice and conduct a hearing on the proposed designation. Once the agency has designated the CEA, it must file notice of that designation with the DEC Commissioner, the DEC office for the region in which the CEA is located, and with all other agencies which are routinely involved in SEQR reviews of actions in, or near, the CEA. DEC must provide notice of the designation in the ENB. The designation takes effect 30 days after filing with the DEC Commissioner.

18. Do all SEQR notices require publication in a local newspaper?

No. The only SEQR notice that requires publication in a newspaper is a notice of hearing. SEQR notices are not required to be published in the legal notice section unless the agency is otherwise required to publish them there.

19. What SEQR notices are published in the ENB?

The ENB publishes notices (that is, brief summaries) of:

  • Conditioned negative declarations;
  • Negative declarations for Type I actions;
  • Positive declarations;
  • Scoping notices;
  • Notices of completion of draft and final EISs;
  • Notices of hearings on draft EISs;
  • Notices of adoption or rescission of individual agency SEQR procedures; and
  • Notices of the adoption of critical environmental areas.

The ENB is published weekly, on Wednesdays, on-line at SEQR notices appear under the heading "SEQR and Other Notices". Notices are organized by DEC region, or statewide.

20. Is it possible to have other notices published in the ENB?

Only those notices that are legally required to appear in the ENB will be published.

21. How should notices be submitted to the ENB?

Notices for publication in the ENB must be filed with the DEC Division of Environmental Permits. Submission by e-mail is preferred, to Hard copy notices may be mailed by U. S. Mail, or other delivery services, to:
Environmental Notice Bulletin
Division of Environmental Permits
625 Broadway
Albany, NY 12233-1750

Telecopier (fax) submissions are not accepted.

22. Is there a deadline for submitting SEQR notices to be published in the ENB?

Yes. Any SEQR notice received by close of business on a Wednesday will be published on the following Wednesday. For example, for a notice to appear in the Wednesday, January 15 issue of the ENB, it must be received no later than 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, January 8.

23. Can I verify that my submission to the ENB was received?

Yes. If you e-mail your notice, you can verify its receipt by calling 518-402-9167. If you send hard copy by U. S. Mail, you can send the package "return receipt requested." Additionally, some delivery services can require a signature for delivery.

24. Must all SEQR documents be filed with the DEC Commissioner?

No. Only the following documents must be filed with the Commissioner:

  • Request for designation of a lead agency;
  • Individual agency SEQR procedures, when adopted or amended; and
  • Designation of CEAs.

While all draft and final EISs must be filed with the DEC, they should be directed to the Division of Environmental Permits, not to the Commissioner. ENB notices should be directed to the ENB. Finally, when DEC is an involved agency and entitled to receive other notices and filings, those documents should generally be directed to the appropriate DEC regional office.

25. What happens if an agency fails to prepare, or file, or fails to both prepare and file, a required SEQR notice?

Should an agency fail to prepare or file any required SEQR notice, it would constitute a procedural error in that agency's SEQR process. Such a procedural error could leave an agency vulnerable to legal challenge.

26. Should all SEQR notices be sent by certified mail?

No. Delivery of notices by certified mail is not required by the SEQR regulations.

27. Can the lead agency require that the project sponsor be responsible for all filings?

No. The preparation and filing of SEQR notices is the responsibility of the lead agency. However, a project sponsor could prepare draft versions of the notices for the lead agency's review, or could distribute the notices at the request of the lead agency.

28. Who is required to retain copies of SEQR documents?

Because SEQR documents are a part of the legal record concerning the proposed action, the lead agency should retain a copy of all SEQR documents. Such a full SEQR file can document that the proper procedures were followed. In the absence of a full SEQR file, the agency could be vulnerable to lawsuits challenging its SEQR procedures, or its ultimate decision.

29. Can an agency refuse to allow public review of SEQR documents?

No. All SEQR notices and documents are public records, and must be made available for public review.

E-mail us if you wish to submit comments. Please be sure to indicate which section or item you are commenting on, and include your name.

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