The New York Court of Appeals has ruled that the New York City School Construction Authority (NYCSCA) has violated the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) by failing to include information on long-term maintenance and monitoring in an environmental impact statement (EIS) for a project partially located on a Brownfield site. In re Bronx Comm. for Toxic Free Schools v. NYCSCA, No. 171 (N.Y. 10/23/12). At issue was a long-standing NYCSCA plan to build a campus for four public schools in the Bronx. Plaintiffs argued that NYCSCA failed to meet SEQRA requirements to include a long-term monitoring and maintenance plan in the EIS. Defendant argued that it would be premature to submit such a plan before cleanup work on the Brownfield portion of the site was actually complete and could be assessed. It further argued that a plan submitted to the state for approval under the Brownfield program removed any need for a supplemental EIS.
The court disagreed, holding that SEQRA and the Brownfield program “serve related but distinct purposes.” “SEQRA is designed to assure that the main environmental concerns and the measures taken to mitigate them, are described in a publicly filed document identified as an EIS, as to which the public has a statutorily required period for review and comment.” The Brownfield program has separate requirements that may be duplicative in some respects, but are still separate. The court therefore ruled that NYCSCA must file a supplemental EIS under SEQRA.