Lead Agency Dispute: Village of Pawling v. Town of Pawling v. DEC
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
Commissioner's Determination of Lead Agency
under Article 8 of the
Environmental Conservation Law
PROJECT: Construction of a softball field by the Town of Pawling on a 4.5 acre site within the Village of Pawling, Dutchess County
DISPUTING AGENCIES: Village of Pawling Planning Board
Town of Pawling Town Board
Conservation Region 3
This decision to designate the Village of Pawling Planning Board as 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 and 6 NYCRR Part 617. I find that the Village Planning Board has the greatest responsibility for the review of this project because the potential impacts of the proposed facility will be primarily local.
The Town of Pawling proposes to construct a recreational softball field with associated parking on a 4.5 acre site in the Village of Pawling. The proposal involves disturbance of the 100 foot adjacent area of Freshwater Wetland (FWW) #DP-22 (Great Swamp) to construct the field. The Great Swamp complex has been designated as a Critical Environmental Area by Dutchess County.
The dispute arose when the Region 3 office of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) suspended review of the FWW permit application on April 13, 1992 because it was discovered that the Village of Pawling has to approve a site plan and the Town of Pawling had neglected to solicit lead agency from the Village. The town resolicited lead agency status on July 7, 1992.
In resolving a dispute about lead agency, I am guided by the three criteria listed in order of importance in paragraph 6 NYCRR 617.6(e)(5). These are: (1) whether the anticipated impacts are primarily of local, regional or statewide significance; (2) which agency has the broadest powers for investigation of potential impacts; and (3) which agency has the greatest ability to provide a thorough environmental assessment of the proposed action.
The first criterion to consider is the location of the impacts. The proposed site is owned by the Town of Pawling but is located in the Village of Pawling. Impacts from the construction and subsequent use of the site will affect the adjacent landowners in the Village to a greater extent than residents of the Town.
The second and third criteria regarding the breadth of jurisdiction and the ability of the agencies to provide a thorough environmental assessment do not require in-depth evaluation. Both agencies have broad jurisdiction over the action and both have the capability to conduct the environmental assessment either through the use of existing staff or by obtaining the services of a consultant.
I therefore conclude that, based upon all the facts presented, the Village of Pawling Planning Board best serves the role as lead agency for conduct of review under SEQR for the proposed Dutcher Avenue Girl's Softball field. This decision does not in any manner limit or minimize the responsibility of all other involved agencies to review the proposed action and to assist the Village of Pawling Planning Board in completion of the environmental review process in a timely manner.
Thomas C. Jorling, Commissioner
Albany, New York
Distribution of Copies:
- J. Tanner, Supervisor, Town of Pawling
H. Gabriel, Chairman, Village of Pawling Planning Board
R. Manna, Director, NYSDEC - Region 3
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation:
- Commissioner Jorling