City Environmental Quality Review Type II Actions
Proposed Rules: Closed to Comments (View Public Comments Received:6)
Statement of Basis and Purpose
These rules are promulgated pursuant to the authority of the City Planning Commission under Section 192(e) of the New York City Charter. Section 192(e) vests in the City Planning Commission the authority to establish by rule procedures for environmental reviews by the City where such reviews are required by law. The State granted the City the authority to promulgate these rules through New York State Department of Environmental Conservation regulations, found in Title 6 of the New York Codes, Rules and Regulations (NYCRR). Subdivision (b) of Section 617.5 of Chapter 6 of Title 6 of the NYCRR authorizes agencies to adopt their own list of Type II actions to supplement the State list of Type II actions, which are found in Subdivision (c) of the same section.
Statement of Purpose
The proposed rules would exempt certain actions from the City Environmental Quality Review (CEQR) procedures. The proposed rules would also provide that some of the listed actions are exempt only if they meet one or more prerequisites.
Currently, the State Environmental Quality Review regulations and CEQR designate certain actions, which are likely to require the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement, as Type I. Section 617.5 of Title 6 of the NYCRR designates other actions, which have been determined not to have a significant adverse impact on the environment, and therefore are not subject to environmental review, as Type II.
Actions that are not designated as either Type I or Type II are referred to as “Unlisted.” For Unlisted actions, an Environmental Assessment Statement (EAS) must be prepared. The lead agency must determine whether the action has the potential for significant adverse environmental impacts. If it is determined, based on the Environmental Assessment Statement, that the action does not have the potential to result in significant impacts, then a Negative Declaration is issued providing the reasons for this determination.
Previous EASs have consistently shown that certain types of Unlisted actions do not have the potential to result in significant adverse environmental impacts. For example, over the past five years, 31 EASs have been prepared in conjunction with special permits for radio and television towers pursuant to Section 73-30 of the Zoning Resolution of the City of New York. Radio and television towers were consistently found not to result in significant adverse environmental impacts, and negative declarations were issued for each of the 31 special permits.
However, because actions such as the special permit for radio and television towers remain Unlisted, an EAS must still be prepared and a Negative Declaration must be issued every time that these actions are taken. Continuing to conduct environmental review of such actions places an administrative burden on government agencies and private businesses, but provides no environmental protection since significant adverse environmental impacts are never predicted. The review of such actions, therefore, constitutes a waste of public and private resources.
The New York City Mayor’s Office of Environmental Coordination, in consultation with the CEQR Task Force, has identified 13 Unlisted actions that lead agencies have determined do not have the potential to result in significant environmental impacts, based on the preparation and review of EASs in the past as well as on evaluation of the potentially significant environmental impacts associated with such actions.
The proposed rules would exempt these actions from environmental review under CEQR and simplify the environmental review process for applicants while freeing agency resources to focus on actions that may have the potential for significant adverse impacts on the environment.
The proposed rules also include prerequisites that certain types of projects must meet before they are exempted from the requirements. For example, the proposed rule would exempt certain actions that could involve the excavation of areas not previously excavated from environmental review only if they are located on a site that is not archeologically sensitive.
The Mayor’s Office of Environmental Coordination estimates that the proposed rules will exempt approximately 184 projects from the environmental review requirements of CEQR over the next five years.
Summary of Provisions
The proposed rules would add two new subdivisions, subdivisions (c) and (d), to Section 5-05 of Chapter 5 of Title 62 of the Rules of the City of New York.
Subdivision (c) would list 13 types of actions that are not subject to environmental review under CEQR. Subdivision (d) would list certain prerequisites that the actions listed in subdivision (c) must meet in order to be exempt from environmental review.