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Jackson v. New York State Urban Dev. Corp.

Citation: 17 ELR 20362
494 N.E.2d 429/67 N.Y.2d 400, (N.Y., 05/08/1986)

The court upholds the actions of the New York State Urban Development Corporation (UDC) in approving a development project in the Times Square area of New York City, following review in accordance with the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act and the New York Eminent Domain Procedure Law (EDPL). The court holds that the environmental impact statement (EIS) adequately evaluated impacts on the adjacent Clinton residential community, and that it was not required to separately evaluate the impacts on elderly residents of Clinton. Moreover, dissatisfaction with the UDC's proposed mitigation measures is not judicially redressable so long as those measures have a rational basis in the record.

Next, the court holds that the specificity of data regarding environmental quality presented in the EIS was sufficient to allow informed public consideration and comment, and that underlying raw data need not be presented. Moreover, the administrative record supporting the final decision is similarly sufficient. The court also holds that the EDPL does not require that public hearings held concerning the project be adversarial in nature.

The court holds that the UDC finding that its actions serve a public purpose is immune from challenge by these appellants because the appellants raised the same issue in previous federal litigation, and because the UDC showed an adequate basis in the record for its determination. The UDC's data is not stale, because it continued to review conditions affecting the project area and because there is no showing that the passage of time would vitiate rational inferences from the data. The court holds that the UDC adequately analyzed impacts on air quality and traffic congestion, and that it had no obligation to describe the impacts on local archaeology, where this issue was not raised in public comment and the UDC had concluded there would be no archaeological impact. Similarly, the failure to consider possible effects on a city water tunnel was justifiable, based on the lack of comment on this issue during the drafting process, the distance of the tunnel from the project, and the location of heavy buildings much nearer the tunnel with no apparent adverse effect.

Finally, the court holds that modifications to the project incorporated after the EIS is issued do not require a supplemental EIS. The UDC determined that the modifications are not environmentally significant, using the same criteria as it originally used in determining whether the project required an environmental impact statement in the first place.

Counsel for Appellants
Jacob Freidlander
LeBoeuf, Lamb, Leiby & MacRae
520 Madison Ave., New York NY 10022
(212) 715-8000

Counsel for Respondents
Stephen L. Kass, Carole A. Buckler
Berle, Kass & Case
45 Rockefeller Plaza, New York NY 10111
(212) 765-1800

WACHTLER, C.J., and MEYER, SIMONS, ALEXANDER, TITONE and HANCOCK, JJ., concur.