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C. SEQR and Capital Improvements

In This Section You Will Learn about:

  • SEQR and capital improvements.

1. How does SEQR apply to capital improvements and other infrastructure development undertaken by local governments?

Direct actions of local governments to acquire, construct, alter, remove or dispose of land or structures intended for public purposes require review under SEQR. Included would be capital projects such as public buildings and open space, streets and highways, sewer and water systems and maintenance facilities.

2. Are there capital improvement actions that are classified as Type II actions, which can be undertaken without SEQR review?

Yes. Prominent examples from the Type II list include:

  • Maintenance or repair involving no substantial changes in an existing structure or facility;
  • Replacement, rehabilitation or reconstruction of a structure or facility, in kind, on the same site, including upgrading buildings to meet building or fire codes, unless such action meets or exceeds any of the thresholds for Type I actions; and
  • Maintenance of existing landscaping or natural growth.

3. If a municipality makes a bond resolution for a capital project does the bond resolution have to undergo SEQR review and does the scope of such review cover the project that is being financed by the bond resolution?

The bond resolution requires SEQR review, if it comes within the definition of "action" and is not for an action classified as a Type II action. The scope of the review should include the project that is being financed by the indebtedness. As with any action that either may involve a series of actions or where the action may evolve over time, the generic environmental impact statement will most likely be the best SEQR tool to identify and assess the impacts of the action. As the action evolves, the municipality can prepare supplemental statements covering the changes.

4. Is a capital budget considered a sufficient commitment to the improvements listed within it to require a review under SEQR before its adoption?

The inclusion of capital improvements within a municipal budget is not an action subject to SEQR. The budgeting process merely sets aside funds without a commitment to their expenditure. Such budget items are usually not definitive enough with respect to design, and sometimes even location, to be reviewable at the time the budget is adopted. However, the adoption of a capital budget should alert public agencies that SEQR should be applied to such projects before they are initiated. Municipal or agency bonding of a particular capital project would be an action requiring SEQR compliance before it is undertaken.

5. Is the acquisition or disposal of land associated with a capital improvement covered by SEQR?

Land acquisition or disposal associated with a capital improvement should be reviewed as part of the whole action. Frequently the first commitment to a project will occur when a property transaction is made, and it is appropriate that SEQR be completed before such commitment is made.

6. Must SEQR be applied to budget items for purchase of equipment?

No. Purchase (or sale) of new or replacement furnishings, equipment or supplies, such as vehicles, waste handling equipment, traffic control devices and playground equipment (other than land, radioactive material, pesticides, herbicides or other hazardous materials) is considered a Type II action.

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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