by Lynne Jackson
On behalf of Save the Pine Bush, Steve Downs, our attorney, filed an amicus brief on the standing issue in the Brunswick Smart Growth appeal. The premise of the lawsuit — that comprehensive planning (when done correctly) — is a better tool to forge environmental policy than is litigation. Therefore anything that can make comprehensive planning unenforceable (such as very restrictive standing requirements under SEQRA), should be eliminated.
The holding of Supreme Court in Brunswick Smart Growth v. Town of Brunswick (July 17, 2009) was that the petitioners failed to demonstrate any environmental injuries “different in kind and degree from that suffered by all other voters, residents, citizens, and taxpayers of the Town of Brunswick” The injuries alleged in the petition were a failure of the Town of Brunswick to update its comprehensive planning as required by law, while approving numerous new construction plans which would increase the size of the Town by some 20% without any significant cumulative impact analysis. This would present a dramatic failure of comprehensive planning.
The Amicus brief was filed to encourage an expansion of standing for SEQRA so cases can be heard based on the merits, and not on overly-restrictive standing rules.
Published in the January/February 2010 Newsletter