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City Council of Watervliet v. Town Bd. of Colonie

ELR Citation: 34 ELR 20146
Nos. No. 148, (N.Y., 12/02/2004)

New York's highest court held that review under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) is required before a municipality adopts a resolution approving the annexation of real property from an adjacent municipality, but the extent of the environmental assessment (EA) is dependent on the specific development plans associated with the transfer of territory. SEQRA promotes, rather than undermines, the public interest purposes of article 17 of the New York General Municipal Law. Therefore, General Municipal Law §718(5) does not exempt the annexation process from SEQRA review. But because the annexation proposal in this case lacks a specific project plan that has been officially submitted or a rezoning proposal that changes the use for which the property may be utilized, the EA will necessarily be limited to the annexation itself and its effects. Where, on the other hand, an annexation is premised upon a formal project plan, environmental review will be more extensive and must address the specific use of the property in evaluating the related environmental effects.