C. When to Begin SEQR
In This Section You Will Learn:
- when must SEQR be started; and
- can agencies make decisions before completing SEQR
1. At what point in the decision-making process must SEQR be applied?
Review under SEQR should be started:
- as soon as an agency receives an application to fund or approve an action, or
- as early as possible in an agency's planning of an action it is proposing.
SEQR review should begin as soon as the principal features of a proposed action and its environmental impacts can be reasonably identified. SEQR must be completed before any final decision to proceed with an action is made.
2. When does SEQR begin if more than one agency is involved in making decisions about an action?
If more than one agency is involved in the action, the review process is started when the first involved agency either:
- receives a request for approval or funding, or
- begins to plan a direct action.
(See Participation in the SEQR Process - C. Establishment of Lead Agency for more information about involved agencies.)
3. Can agency decisions be made or acted on before completion of the SEQR process?
It may be possible to implement some non-physical aspects of an action which are not subject to SEQR, but it should be noted that Subdivision 617.3(a) (link leaves DEC website) provides that a project sponsor may not commence any physical alteration related to an action until all provisions of SEQR have been complied with (i.e. the lead agency has issued a Negative Declaration or Findings). The fact that some early activities on an overall action are not subject to review under SEQR does not remove the consequences of these decisions from consideration with respect to the whole action.
For example, a site should not be cleared and graded nor should any structural demolition occur until all aspects of the overall proposed project subject to SEQR have been examined. The only exception to this would be for minor disturbances necessary for information gathering about a project; e.g. property surveys, soil sampling, test wells or temporary installation of various types of environmental monitoring equipment.
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