Assemblyman Michael Montesano (R,I,C – Glen Head) today once again urged the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council headed by Lt. Governor Robert Duffy to reconsider its recommendation to have the state assume lead-agency status on regionally significant economic development projects. Under current law, the affected local government performs the mandated State Environmental Quality Review (SEQRA) to determine what, if any, environmental impact new development would have on the surrounding community. While state officials claim that regionally significant projects are getting bogged down at the local level, Montesano cited a legacy of professional and thorough review of area projects as evidence of the effectiveness of local control.
“The recommendation to turn our local projects over to Albany is irresponsible and flouts over 30 years of successful and effective SEQRA experience at the local level,” said Montesano. “Lead-agency status for the state implies that our local input is inadequate or that local officials are unfit to perform a review of a project’s potential environmental impact.”
In a February 7, 2012 letter to Lt. Governor Duffy, Montesano included the Town of Oyster Bay’s review of a proposal to build a shopping mall at the former Cerro Wire site. The comments on the proposal showed that a mall would significantly alter the surrounding community, an assessment informed by an on-the-ground knowledge that an agency in Albany would not possess. This is why Assemblyman Montesano is also co-sponsoring legislation to ensure local governments’ control of SEQRA.
“Major projects have the greatest impact on the host community, and it only stands to reason that the most qualified entity to be the lead agency for environmental review would be at the local level,” said Montesano. “If the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council does not take action in preserving local control, I strongly urge my colleagues in the Legislature to pass my legislation protecting the authority of our communities to determine their own future.”