C. Record Keeping and Disclosure
In This Section You Will Learn:
- which SEQR records should be retained; and,
- which SEQR records should be made available for public review.
1. What SEQR records should an agency retain?
Because the SEQR record is part of the application review record, an agency should retain all EAFs, negative declarations, positive declarations, scoping documents, draft and final EISs, hearing records, and findings, in addition to all application materials and supporting documentation supplied by a project sponsor such as maps, plans and technical reports.
2. How long should SEQR records be retained?
SEQR does not prescribe any specific retention periods for SEQR records. SEQR documents relating to projects should be retained with, and for the same period of time as, the file for the underlying approval or action. Specific retention periods may apply based on the agency's underlying jurisdiction(s). Agencies may also choose to retain EISs as long term references for similar actions, or for other proposals in the same general area as the original action.
3. Why might an agency keep an EIS even after the project has been completed?
In addition to project information, most EISs contain a great deal of resource inventory and other background data about the site and surrounding area that could be valuable to an agency for long term environmental planning. Additionally, an agency could compile such data and use it to determine the accuracy of past EISs in predicting impacts as well as to evaluate the effectiveness of any required mitigation. Further, agencies can use data from prior EISs to assist in scoping subsequent EISs.
4. Must SEQR documents be made available for public review?
Yes. All SEQR documents are public records and must be made available for public review. Court decisions made under the NYS Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) have ruled that any SEQR document received by an agency is a "public document" available to the public, pursuant to the requirements and restrictions of FOIL. This includes "pre-draft" EISs that may be sent to the lead agency by the project sponsor as a "working draft" for agency comment on one or more issues.
5. Can an agency require that all requests for SEQR records be made using the provisions of FOIL?
Agencies can require that individuals requesting records do so in accordance with the provisions of the FOIL. In practice, however, this should not be necessary for SEQR records, including SEQR notices, EAFs, negative declarations, draft or final EISs, and findings.
6. Can an agency charge for reproducing records?
Agencies can charge a fee to recover the costs of reproducing records, consistent with FOIL.
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