Assemblyman Michael A. Montesano (R,I,C-Glen Head) has written a letter to Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy voicing his concerns over recommendations made by the state during the recent Strategic Economic Development Plan for Long Island. The move would grant Albany, not local communities, lead agency status for the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) process for so-called “transformative” or “significant” projects identified in the economic development plan.
“The major issue here is the elimination of our local planning and review process,” said Montesano. “The SEQRA review is intended to streamline and expedite the decision-making process for projects determined to be transformative, as long as there are no threats to the local environment. It is imperative that these decisions be rendered by those who would be affected by development changes, namely our towns, villages, and localities.
“When it comes to the decision-making process, citizens have a right to voice their opinions on changes to the community’s character and design. Reforms taken to enhance the Cerro Wire property, for example, ought to be proposed and adopted at the local level. Instead, Albany has demanded that we turn this property into a shopping mall, outraging many Long Island residents. An influx of traffic as well as the inability of local roads to support such an increase has community members speaking out. Clearly, the terms of Albany’s Strategic Economic Development Plan must be changed to reflect these exigencies.
“We cannot take away the ability of citizens and localities to make decisions that affect them locally in exchange for a ‘streamlined’ process which would hurt more than it would help. I strongly urge Lieutenant Governor Duffy to reconsider the Strategic Economic Development Plan’s recommendation that the state act as lead agency for this and any other regional reports that may contain similar recommendations.”
The letter to Lieutenant Governor Duffy also notes Montesano’s view that the lead agency authority lies strictly with the locality. A copy of the letter has been attached. For more information on this or any other state matter, Montesano encourages constituents to contact him at his district office at 518-937-3571 or follow him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Assemblyman.Michael.Montesano.
December 20, 2011
The Honorable Robert J. Duffy
Lieutenant Governor of New York State
Albany, New York 12224
Dear Lieutenant Governor Duffy,
I am writing to express the opinion of my constituents regarding the recent Strategic Economic Development Plan for the Long Island region.
First, let me commend you on your work to help stimulate growth and create sustainable jobs here on Long Island. However, I would like to point out a serious flaw that has come to my attention. The recommendations on pages 27 and 75 that would grant the state, not the locality, lead agency status for the SEQRA review of the “transformative” or “significant” projects in the plan is faulty. I believe very strongly that the lead agency authority lies strictly with our localities.
Although the system created would streamline the process for many projects, for others it goes against what the locality needs or desires to have available to it. For instance, the proposal to erect a mall on the former Cerro Wire property has been adamantly opposed by many in my community. Some residents feel as though traffic in this area will worsen beyond reasonable standards. Others have the strong opinion that the site would be much better suited to a mixed- use district. In my opinion, it is in the best interest of the town to determine how to zone and plan that particular parcel, not the state.
Therefore, I urge you to reconsider the Strategic Economic Development Plan for the Long Island region, and I request you remove the recommendation for naming the state as lead agency from this and any other regional reports that may contain similar recommendations.
Thank you for your consideration.
Michael A. Montesano
Member of Assembly
cc: NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joseph Martens