Dormitory Authority of the State of New York
Office of Environmental Affairs
Responsibilities and Functions
The primary responsibility of the Office of Environmental Affairs (OEA) is to ensure that the projects of DASNY’s clients are compliant with the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) as well as being environmentally-sound and free of environmental conditions prior to the Authority’s decision to fund, undertake and/or approve a proposed project. At the heart of the success of the Office of Environmental Affairs’ strategic environmental management and planning approach is how it functions on a daily basis with Authority staff and Authority clients. The OEA is present at the earliest client consultation meetings with DASNY staff which also includes members of the public finance, construction services, legal and executive staffs. At these meetings, OEA gives a summary of the Authority’s overall environmental requirements, obligations and expectations with regard to State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) and the New York State Historic Preservation Act of 1980 (SHPA), especially the implementing regulations of section 14.09 of the Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Law (PRHPL).
OEA’s Environmental Review Process
Immediately after this presentation, the discussion focuses on the status of any ongoing or previous SEQR environmental reviews that the client may be (or had been) involved in with other governmental agencies or local municipalities. After this information has been ascertained, OEA makes a preliminary determination concerning the applicability of previous or ongoing SEQR reviews and its own involvement in these reviews. At this point, clients are given a copy of the Authority’s Full Environmental Assessment Form-Part I (EAF-Part I) or Short Environmental Assessment Form-Part I (SEAF-Part I) depending upon the scope of the proposed project.
Actual processing of a client’s application begins upon submittal to and receipt by OEA of a fully-completed EAF-Part I or SEAF-Part I. To expedite the SEQR process, each applicant must contact a member of OEA to discuss in detail the Authority’s SEQR submittal requirements prior to actual submittal. Such action results in prompt processing and avoids unnecessary delays or requests for missing or inadequate documentation. Consultation with OEA identifies what environmental review activities can be undertaken on a coordinated basis to satisfy the SEQR obligations of all governmental agencies involved with issuing permits or approvals for a client’s project. This activity is particularly important for projects requiring local approvals for site plans and zoning changes or variances; federal and state permits for projects located in wetland and floodplain areas or involve stream disturbance activities; and for projects that are located in municipalities such as New York City which require intensive environmental review under local ordinances (e.g., City Environmental Quality Review [CEQR] and the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure [ULURP]).
Historic Preservation Laws
With respect to compliance with the historic preservation laws, projects must be reviewed pursuant to the Memorandum of Understanding arrangement DASNY has entered into with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP). DASNY completes OPRHP’s Project Review Check Form and submits it to OPRHP for a determination regarding the proposed project’s impact, if any, on historic and/or archaeological resources listed on or eligible for listing on the State and National Registers of Historic Places. For those projects which involve impacts to cultural resources listed on the National or State Registers of Historic Places, OEA consults directly with the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) to negotiate a Letter of Resolution (LOR) that will allow the project to move forward. Again, if any project revisions are necessary, all information is passed along from the OEA to all appropriate agency staff and client consultants.
OEA Communications and Follow-Up
Throughout all of the abovementioned activities, OEA interacts on daily basis with all other Authority staff to keep them abreast of the SEQR status of each applicant. The OEA attends all follow-up meetings between Authority staff and the client to address those issues within its purview. During this review period, OEA also meets independently with the client’s consultants on an as-needed basis. Similarly, the OEA meets with other governmental agencies to address interagency issues and with representatives of the various municipalities involved in the environmental reviews.
Typical of the agencies that OEA interfaces with are the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE), United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP), New York City Department of City Planning (NYCDCP), New York City Planning Commission (CPC), New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (NYCHPD), New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), and the myriad town, village and city planning and zoning boards throughout New York State.
In addition to providing a full range of environmental management and review and historic preservation review services the OEA is integrally involved in developing and establishing agency policies and procedures regarding environmental compliance activities for new and ongoing public finance and construction programs.