One of the goals of The Preservation Collective is to empower individuals to get involved in their communities by providing resources and support. Since anyone can be impacted by new development or change in zoning or updated regulations, it is vital to understand the environmental consequences of a plan, policy or project prior to a decision to move forward with a proposed action. By providing educational resources about the environment, as well as information about the review process of a proposed action, we hope communities will work together to avoid significant negative impacts. No one person or group can do everything on their own, but by working collectively people can make a huge difference in protecting their quality of life. Click on the tabs below to learn more about how you can get involved.
Meaningful public participation can make for better decisions, better outcomes, and better governance
The Preservation Collective supports and encourages public participation in community planning and development. Residents play a key role in the review process offering information about local history, community character, and important resources which could be impacted by proposed actions in addition to other environmental issues that should be addressed but might be overlooked by decision makers.
How to participate?
It is up to residents to get informed and knowledgeable about current regulations as well as get involved in the goals and objectives in their community’s comprehensive plan that guides future growth.
Residents should check the website of their governing body for meeting agendas to stay informed on topics of interest. Mark calendars in advance as a helpful reminder to check upcoming dates and notices of public hearings. If you cannot attend a meeting, then you can send correspondence to your public officials with your concerns and input.
Likewise, it is important for public officials to make information on important changes under consideration easily accessible to the public and in a timely fashion. Those who are affected by a decision have a right to be involved in the decision-making process.
Please note that public officials are not obligated to respond to every concern, they just need to listen. It is up to voters to pay close attention to local elections and candidates that will make decisions to protect the health, safety and welfare of their residents.
Since anyone can be impacted by new development or change in zoning or updated regulations, it is vital to understand the environmental consequences of a plan, policy or project prior to a decision to move forward with a proposed action. The Preservation Collective volunteers continue to look for ways to help the public get educated on environmental issues of concern.
Clean air and water, scenic resources and natural areas are essential to the health and well-being of a community. As new development continues, residents can help identify areas that should be protected. In addition, residents can urge their municipality to have effective measures in place to avoid poorly planned development that damages these important resources. The failure to protect the environment will lead to the depletion of resources, which later affects economic growth.
So how does a community balance economic growth and the preservation of the environment?
A community needs skillful planning, informed decision-making, goal implementation, and outcome assessment. The public needs to stay informed and involved in the course of action taken by their municipality from start to finish. It is so important to remember, “public participation is a process, not a single event.”
SEQR is a common reference made by public officials when reviewing a proposed action. This is referring to the State Environmental Quality Review Regulations.
Below is information available from The New York State Department of Conservation (NYS-DEC):
SEQR establishes a process to systematically consider environmental factors early in the planning stages of actions that are directly undertaken, funded, or approved by local, regional, and state agencies. By incorporating environmental review early in the planning stages, projects can be modified as needed to avoid adverse impacts on the environment.
Environment means land, air, water, noise, plants and animals, archeological, historical, aesthetics, transportation, energy, growth and character of community.
The goal of New York’s Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) Act is to avoid or limit possible negative impacts on the environment from proposed actions such as subdividing land, adopting land use plans, building a housing development or a roadway or filling wetlands.
When any state or local agency makes a decision about a proposed action, it must give equal consideration to environmental protection, human and community resources and economic factors. The SEQR process provides a way for agencies to look closely at the possible environmental impacts of a proposed action. The agency conducting the SEQR review must determine if a proposed action may or will not have significant adverse impacts on the environment.
Determinations of significance must be based on information provided by the project sponsor in an Environmental Assessment Form (EAF), other supporting documents and comments from any involved agencies and the public.
When the agency determines that there may be one or more significant adverse environmental impacts from a proposed action, a positive declaration is made meaning that an EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) must be prepared and made available for public review.
An important aspect of SEQR is its public participation component. There are opportunities for outreach and public participation throughout the EIS process. They include:
• Coordination with involved and interested agencies for Type I actions;
• Public input on the scope of the EIS, which is a mandatory process as of January 1, 2019;
• The required 30-day minimum public comment period on the draft EIS; and
• Public hearings, if the lead agency chooses to hold one or more hearings.
These opportunities allow the public and other agencies to provide input into the planning or review process, resulting in a review with a broader perspective. It also increases the likelihood that the project will be consistent with community values.
SEQR is both a procedural and a substantive law. In addition to establishing environmental review procedures, the law mandates that agencies act on the substantive information produced by the environmental review. This often results in project modifications and can lead to project denial if the adverse environmental impacts cannot be favorably balanced against social and economic considerations, and adequate mitigation methods or alternatives are not available.
The public can sign up for the NYS-DEC Environmental Notice Bulletin (ENB) weekly online electronic publication that provides a comprehensive, statewide listing of SEQR notices from all state and local agencies. Click on “Region 3” for Orange County news, click here.
• Citizen’s Guide to SEQR
• NYS Department of Environmental Conservation SEQR Handbook
• Introduction to SEQR – NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation
• SEQR – NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation
When it enacted SEQR, the New York State Legislature stated that its intent was: “…to declare a state policy which will encourage productive and enjoyable harmony between man and his environment; to promote efforts which will prevent or eliminate damage to the environment and enhance human and community resources; and to enrich the understanding of the ecological systems, natural, human and community resources important to the people of the state.”
(Environmental Conservation Law (ECL) Article 8-0101).