Tuesday, September 8, 2009

No Set-Up: Re-Zoning Hearing is On

UNIONDALE, NY - AUGUST 04:  Fans rally for sup...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

We had a rather uneventful day at Town Hall. My worst fears were not realized, and the Town of Hempstead voted unanimously to schedule the Lighthouse re-zoning hearing for September 22 at Hofstra.

At this point, I think I need to make a few things clear, because this may come as a surprise after my last post. There is not a Final Generic Environmental Impact Statement (FGEIS) as of right now, and it is unlikely they will have one by the September 22 hearing date. I was concerned that the F.P. Clark issue would overshadow everything else and the Town would table the vote because they have, up to this point, been unwilling to perform pieces of the process in parallel. Thankfully, this did not happen, and we were able to move forward.

This is where I need to explain two quick things:

UNIONDALE, NY - AUGUST 04:  Kate Murray, Super...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

First of all, re-zoning is not the same as environmental review. Even though F.P. Clark's refusal to work has delayed the FGEIS, the Town did not need a completed Environmental Impact Statement in order to open up a public hearing (without a final vote) on the Lighthouse re-zoning. (Blogger's Note: I wanted to speak to F.P. Clark today, but they were not present)

Second of all, there is one more piece to the SEQR process that it is important for everyone to understand. I said in Part III of my series looking into the process that SEQR is a law, nothing more, and it can be used as either a tool for fulfilling obligations or a weapon against a developer. In this case, the Town of Hempstead followed the letter of the law and moved forward in full compliance with its legal responsibilities. There is a legal burden on the FGEIS to be both complete and correct, but there is an additional legal burden SEQR places on the Town of Hempstead as lead agency. The lead agency is responsible for moving the process forward as quickly as things allow, and they legally cannot be an impediment to overall progress. This means that pieces of review should be done in parallel when needed, such as opening the re-zoning hearing while completing the FGEIS.

Overall, we took another baby step toward completion today, and the graph will be updated to illustrate our new place in the process. However, at this point, there are a few issues that need to still be addressed:

- Will the billing dispute that led to F.P. Clark's indefensible decision to stop working be resolved quickly? This could become an unwelcome distraction for the Lighthouse and impede the process if it is not addressed.

- Will we hear more about process from the Town? I mentioned at the hearing today that my chart may be out of date, and I hope the Town will publish a new list of steps between our current location and shovels in the ground to make sure we are all on the same page.

- When does F.P. Clark plan to finish the FGEIS?

- How quickly can there be a vote on re-zoning after the hearing?

Our work is not done, but I am glad that our fears were unfounded in this case. Despite the game-playing, our Island dream is one step closer to reality.

Coming Soon: Stay tuned over the next week and a half, I'll have some investigative pieces into the process, a deeper look at Frederick P. Clark Associates, and some explanations on the terms and the next steps in the process.

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  1. Hey Nick,

    Yeah, an updated breakdown of the steps that are left would be greatly appreciated. It's about time we get some clarity on this thing from TOH. The REAL question will be what the TOH will permit Wang and Co. to build. No doubt in my mind that the two towers will not be part of the plans that they approve. They will also scale back the office and retail space. Other than that, they should approve the rest.

    "Enough is enough and it's time for a change."

    -Big Van Vader

  2. Did you see Chris Botta's article today on nhlfanhouse.com? He talks about 6 other parties interested in the Islanders if the Lighthouse does not get approved. Seems like good timing for this, putting the pressure back on the TOH and reminding them that there will be consequences to further delays.