Articles Posted in Environmental Law

by
Ranco Sand and Stone Corporation, the owner of two parcels of contiguous property in an area zoned for residential use, applied to rezone one parcel to heavy industrial use. The Town of Smithtown’s Planning Board, acting as the lead agency under State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA), adopted a resolution issuing a positive declaration that rezoning the parcel may have a significant effect on the environment and required Ranco to prepare a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS). Ranco commenced this N.Y. C.P.L.R. 78 proceeding against the Town and the members of the Town Board, seeking to annul the positive declaration and requesting mandamus relief directing the Town to process the rezoning application without a DEIS. Supreme Court dismissed the petition, finding the matter not ripe for judicial review. The Appellate Division affirmed, concluding that the SEQRA positive declaration was the initial step in the decision-making process and did not give rise to a justiciable controversy. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the Town’s SEQRA positive determination was not ripe for judicial review. View "Ranco Sand & Stone Corp. v. Vecchio" on Justia Law

by
Petitioners, including individual residents of the Village of Painted Post, commenced this N.Y. C.P.L.R. 78 proceeding against the Village and others (collectively, Respondents), asserting that the Village failed to comply with the strict procedural mandates of the State Environmental Quality Review Act by entering into a bulk water sale agreement with a subsidiary of Shell Oil Co. providing for the sale of 314 million gallons of water from the village water system and by approving a lease agreement with a railroad for the construction of a water transloading facility. Respondents moved to dismiss the petition, asserting that Petitioners lacked standing and failed to state a cause of action. Supreme Court denied Respondents’ motion to dismiss for lack of standing after finding that one of the individual petitions had standing. The Appellate Division reversed and dismissed the petition on the ground that the individual petitioner lacked standing. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the Appellate Division, in concluding that the individual petitioner at issue lacked standing, applied an overly restrictive analysis of the requirement to show harm “different from that of the public at large.” View "Sierra Club v. Village of Painted Post" on Justia Law

by
James Pyne, who died during these proceedings, was the founder and sole stockholder of Remet Corporation. Pyne sold Remet’s stock and facilities, along with real property he had been leasing to Remet, to Burmah Castro Holding, Inc. The sales agreement contained an indemnification provision obligating Pyne to indemnify, defendant, and holder the buyer harmless for certain environmental losses. Remet later received a letter from the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) notifying Remet that it was a potentially responsible party for environmental contamination at the Erie Canal Site adjacent to Remet’s real property. Remet filed notices of claim against Pyne’s estate seeking indemnification for environmental liabilities under the sales agreement. Remet then brought this action against the Estate asserting claims for contractual and common-law indemnification. Supreme Court granted Remet summary judgment on liability. The Appellate Division reversed, concluding that DEC’s letter did not require Remet to take action. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) the letter was sufficiently coercive and adversarial as to require action in connection with any environmental law pursuant to the sales agreement; and (2) Remet was entitled to contractual indemnification for past and future environmental losses arising out of DEC’s investigation and remediation of the Erie Canal Site. View "Remet Corp. v. Estate of Pyne" on Justia Law

by
The 2010 General Permit requires municipal storm sewer systems to develop and implement a Stormwater Management Program in compliance with specifications developed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to limit the introduction of pollutants into stormwater. After the 2010 General Permit took effect, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. (NRDC) and other environmental advocacy groups (collectively, NRDC) brought this hybrid N.Y. C.P.L.R. 78 proceeding/declaratory judgment action against DEC challenging certain aspects of the 2010 General Permit. The Appellate Division rejected NRDC’s federal and state law challenges to the 2010 General Permit. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that NRDC’s challenges to the lawfulness of the 2010 General Permit were without merit. View "Natural Res. Defense Council, Inc. v. N.Y. State Dep’t of Envtl. Conservation" on Justia Law

by
In 2010, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) adopted amendments to regulations pertaining to the protection of endangered and threatened species. The amendments established a formal process through which individuals could obtain a permit to allow for the incidental taking of a threatened or endangered species. Before the agency implemented the regulations at issue, the Town of Riverhead and Twon of Riverhead Community Development Agency (collectively, Riverhead) challenged the amendments. Supreme Court dismissed the proceeding, finding that Petitioners did not have standing. The Appellate Division affirmed, concluding that Petitioners lacked standing based on their failure to allege an injury in fact and that Petitioners’ substantive challenges were not yet ripe. The Court of Appeals held that Petitioners could proceed with three of their procedural claims, as they alleged a sufficient injury regarding these claims, but Petitioners lacked standing with respect to the substantive causes of action, as those claims were not yet ripe. View "In re Ass’n for a Better Long Island" on Justia Law

by
In 2012, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation executed a written license agreement with Chef Driven Market, LLC (CDM), which permitted CDM to operate a seasonal restaurant in the Union Square Park pavilion. Plaintiffs, Union Square Park Community Coalition, Inc. and several individuals, brought an action against the Department, its commissioner, the City, and CDM (collectively, the Department), seeking a declaratory judgment and injunctive relief restraining the Department from altering the park pavilion to accommodate the restaurant under the public trust doctrine. The Appellate Division denied the motion for a preliminary injunction and dismissed the complaint, concluding that the seasonal restaurant did not violate the public trust doctrine. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the Department’s grant of a license to CDM to operate the restaurant in the pavilion was lawful.View "Union Square Park Cmty. Coal., Inc. v. N.Y. City Dep’t of Parks & Recreation" on Justia Law

by
The Village of Kings Point adopted a proposal to build a facility in Kings Point Park. Plaintiffs filed an action against the Village, its Mayor and its Board of Trustees seeking to enjoin the Village’s proposed project and its current use of a portion of the Park for storage as unlawful uses of parkland in violation of the public trust doctrine. The State then filed an action against the Village seeking relief with respect to the Village’s proposed project. Supreme Court granted summary judgment for the State and Plaintiffs, permanently enjoining Defendants from proceeding with the project and from obstructing existing access to the Park and directing the Village to remove the materials being stored in the Park. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the causes of action challenging the proposed project were not barred by the statute of limitations; and (2) the continuing wrong doctrine applied to toll the statute of limitations on Plaintiffs’ claims regarding the ongoing use of parkland alleged to violate the public trust doctrine. View "Capruso v. Village of Kings Point" on Justia Law

by
Defendants issued excess insurance policies to Plaintiff that required, as a threshold condition for coverage, Plaintiff to provide timely notice of any occurrence that potentially implicated Defendants’ duty of indemnification. This case concerned the investigation and remediation of environmental damage at manufactured gas plant (MGP) sites owned by Plaintiff. When Defendants denied coverage, Plaintiff commenced a declaratory judgment action. The Appellate Division concluded that Plaintiff failed to provide timely notice under the policies of environmental contamination at the MGP sites but denied summary judgment to Defendants, determining that material issues of fact remained as to whether Defendants waived their right to disclaim coverage of Plaintiff’s claims. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the Appellate Division erred in considering the waiver issue under N.Y. Ins. Law 3420(d)(2) because Plaintiff never relied on the statute and instead asserted a common-law waiver defense. View "KeySpan Gas E. Corp. v. Munich Reins. Am., Inc." on Justia Law

by
At issue in this case was whether the New York City School Construction Authority (Authority) violated the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) during a construction project by failing to discuss in an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) the methods it adopted for long-term maintenance and monitoring of the controls it used to prevent or mitigate environmental harm. Petitioners brought this action challenging that Authority's SEQRA compliance. Supreme court ordered the Authority to prepare a supplemental EIS based on any changes to the final EIS as a result of the Authority's completed, detailed long-term maintenance and monitoring plan. The Authority did not file a supplemental EIS but, instead, moved for reargument and renewal, asserting that its submission of a site management plan removed the need for any further SEQRA filing. Supreme court adhered to its previous ruling on reargument, and the appellate division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) where important decisions about mitigation can only be made after the initial remedial measures are complete, a supplemental EIS may be called for, as it is here; and (2) nor does the submission of a site management plan justify short-circuiting SEQRA review. View "Bronx Comm. for Toxic Free Schs. v. N.Y. City Sch. Constr. Auth." on Justia Law

by
At issue in this case was a rezoning proposal for Sunset Park, a predominantly residential neighborhood in Brooklyn. Following public hearings, the Department of City Planning (DCP), the lead agency here, prepared an environmental assessment statement (EAS) and issued a negative declaration, concluding that the proposed rezoning would not have an adverse impact on the environment. Petitioners sought to annul the negative declaration on the ground that DCP's environmental review of the proposed rezoning was not in compliance with the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act and the City Environmental Quality Review rules. Supreme Court denied the petition and dismissed the proceeding. The appellate division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that DCP neither abused its discretion nor was arbitrary or capricious when it issued its negative declaration because in its EAS the DCP identified the relevant areas of environmental concern, took a hard look at them, and made a reasoned elaboration of the basis for its determination. View "Chinese Staff & Workers' Ass'n v. Burden" on Justia Law