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May 3, 2012

Can Albany Change the Hub's Development Plan


The Long Island Economic Development Committee has recently proposed an idea where the state will handle the enviromental review for real estate projects.  What would this mean for the Islanders?  It would mean that Kate Murray loses some of her power to prevent a Lighthouse like development, since governor Cuomo would be the one approving the zoning and development for the site. If this idea can become a reality in time the Islanders may have a chance to stay in Nassau County where they belong.  Another impact is that the state could give a project like the Heartland Town Square the green light, which there has been rumors that Wang and Wolkoff might be interested in working together,

Long Island Business News http://libn.com
State eyeing takeover of SEQRA OKs
by David Winzelberg
Published: April 12th, 2012

Long Island economic development officials have proposed a policy change that would shift
environmental review of important regional projects to Albany, sidestepping local foot-dragging
and backbiting.
Locally, the change would affect the redevelopment of such sites as the Nassau Hub, the Enterprise
Park at Calverton and – a clear flash point – the former Cerro Wire site in Syosset, where
Michigan-based Taubman Centers has spent 17 years battling local residents over a proposed mall.
The change was suggested by the local economic development council set up by Gov. Andrew Cuomo
last year and chaired by Hofstra President Stuart Rabinowitz and Long Island Association chief Kevin
Law. In preparing its strategic plan for the governor, the council noted that many regionally significant
projects “get bogged down at the local level” during the mandated State Environmental Quality
Review, or SEQRA, and that a state agency could “fast-track projects that have been identified as
transformative.”
What the council didn’t say: The reviews are often used by local officials to stall unpopular projects or
arm-twist developers into changes that go well beyond environmental concerns.
No surprise, then, that the proposal brought swift rebuke from the Nassau County Village Officials
Association, which fired off a letter to Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy, who heads the regional economic
development program, calling the policy change “a serious mistake” that would lead to conflicts
between the state and local municipalities.
The association also accused developers of wanting to circumvent the current system because “they
can’t make their case at the local level.”
Attorney Howard Avrutine, who represents a neighborhood group fighting the Taubman mall, is also
opposed, but on constitutional grounds.
“Especially on Long Island, the concept of home rule is the foundation of local government,” Avrutine
said. “People created villages because they like the feel of them. They want the ability to mold and
shape the way their villages are developed going forward.”
If adopted, the change could impact such projects as Wyandanch Rising, the Hempstead Village
revitalization, Heartland Town Square and the Ronkonkoma Hub, all of which have been identified as
regionally significant in the local council’s strategic plan.
Land use attorney Chris Kent, of Farrell Fritz in Hauppauge, said the council’s recommendation to give
the state the lead is a reaction to localities that have failed to act on developments that have been
identified as real necessities for the region.
“A few local people are unduly influencing elected officials from making tough decisions,” Kent said.
“Sometimes hard decisions have to be made.”
Hofstra’s Rabinowitz agreed: “Many of Long Island’s most important projects get hopelessly delayed in
local review,” he said. “Putting a state agency in charge could significantly reduce the time it takes to
get a shovel in the ground, lowering development costs and helping the region build the kind of smart
economy we think is vital for job growth and future economic vitality.”
David Calone, chairman of the Suffolk County Planning Commission, agreed that the state could speed
up the reviews, while taking the power from municipalities that use it as an impediment to project
approvals.
“I think it can work,” Calone said. “At the end of the day the decision has to be with the local boards,
but it might make sense for the SEQRA process to be run at a more regional level.”
Long Island Business News > Print > State eyeing takeover of SEQRA OKs http://libn.com/wp-content/plugins/dmc_sociable_toolbar/wp-print.php?...
http://www.longislandassociation.org/assets/downloads/LIBN-StateeyeingtakeoverofSEQRAOKs.pdf
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