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Bronx Committee for Toxic Free Schools v. New York City School Construction Authority

ELR Citation: 42 ELR 20219
Nos. 171, (N.Y., 10/23/2012)

New York's highest court held that the New York City School Construction Authority's EIS for the construction of a campus of four public schools in an area formerly used as a railroad yard violated the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA). Because the site contains significant soil and groundwater contamination, the Authority prepared an EIS pursuant to SEQRA. But the EIS failed to describe the long-term maintenance and monitoring procedures to be used at the site. A lower court ordered the authority to prepare a supplemental EIS to address these deficiencies, and the Authority prepared a site management plan that included a description of long-term maintenance and monitoring measures. Yet it failed to file its plan in the form of a supplemental EIS. Instead, it moved for reargument and renewal, asserting that its submission of the site management plan, and the state education department's approval of it, removed the need for any further SEQRA filing. But the methods chosen by the Authority for long-term maintenance and monitoring of its engineering controls are too important not to be described in an EIS. SEQRA is designed to assure that environmental concerns are described in a publicly filed document allowing for public review and comment. Although the Authority believes that it has already done enough public outreach and considered enough public comments, SEQRA requires it to take this one step more. Pro bono counsel included David Berz of Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP in New York, NY.