SEQRA and Environmental Impact Review

A team of attorneys experienced in the complex legal matters related to the environmental review process and New York’s State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA).

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SEQRA and Environmental Impact Review Law

Thought Leaders in SEQRA and NEPA

Phillips Lytle counsels clients through environmental review processes pursuant to both the federal National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and New York’s State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA). Phillips Lytle is involved in environmental reviews on a daily basis, whether it is zoning matters which we handle for clients all over New York State or large, complex projects such as a new NFL stadium. We take a team management approach with clients to expedite the preparation of environmental studies that include draft Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) and final EISs, and we have extensive experience with Generic EISs (GEIS). These cost-effective approaches allow for timely, yet thorough, environmental reviews, while minimizing the likelihood of any successful subsequent legal challenge.

When it comes to SEQRA compliance in particular, we understand that:

  1. SEQRA is a process; it doesn’t typically require particular outcomes.
  2. SEQRA is a law; the courts, not the lead agency, ultimately determine compliance.

Our attorneys are intimately familiar with the SEQRA regulations, the SEQRA Handbook, Environmental Assessment Forms (short and full), the EAF Workbooks, and relevant court decisions. Our team emphasizes strict compliance with the procedural aspects of SEQRA, while ensuring that there is a comprehensive administrative record to support the Determination of Significance. In fact, our attorneys have been leading seminars on the environmental review process for more than twenty years. In addition, acting as special counsel, we have assisted a number of governmental and quasi-governmental agencies through particularly complex and problematic environmental reviews on a timely and cost-effective basis. We have even been successful at using the Environmental Impact Review process to jumpstart projects that were otherwise stalled.

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SEQRA and Land Use Experience Highlights

  • Provided counsel on the development of $125 million Native American Casino in Buffalo, NY. Represented the City of Buffalo including strategically segmented Environmental Impact Review, SEQRA, land use matters, municipal actions in support of the casino project including land sale, and successful defense of Article 78 action challenging the adequacy of the environmental impact review.
  • Represented the redevelopment of Buffalo’s inner harbor for an approximately $650 million mixed-use project including retail, office space, hotel and public-use space. Our representation included various project-related issues including SEQRA Generic Environmental Impact Statement, zoning and development, and adoption of general project plan.
  • Represented the development of a $4 billion, one million-square-foot data center in Somerset, NY. Our work included an Environmental Impact Review resulting in a negative declaration in less than 60 days, and successful defense of an Article 78 action challenging adequacy of the environmental impact review.
  • Provided representation on land use, SEQRA and environmental matters and successfully defended a lawsuit challenging the adequacy of the environmental review related to the effort to demolish eight residential structures in Buffalo, NY. Several of the structures were deemed eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places and neighborhood stakeholders viewed the demolition as a precursor to expansion of an adjacent plaza. One of the structures was designated a local landmark.
  • Represented the $43 million development of a mixed-use neighborhood on a 90-acre former industrial complex which included apartments, office space, small business incubator and flex space, gardens and park, and additional areas devoted to manufacturing. Phillips Lytle provided SEQRA counsel for GEIS to the city’s planning and development board.
  • Provided representation on various project-related issues including all aspects of SEQRA process (negative declaration), zoning and development for the redevelopment of multiple industrial properties in Buffalo, NY. The $70 million project returned the properties to productive use, assisting with revitalizing the surrounding neighborhood, and providing employment opportunities for nearby residents by creating a new manufacturing hub on Buffalo’s East Side.
  • Our team has provided representation on various project-related issues including SEQRA, zoning, land use and development, and project financing (including PILOT Increment Financing for infrastructure improvements in the vicinity of the project) for the approximately $120 million redevelopment of a 38-story tower in downtown Buffalo into a mixed-use project featuring over 115 residential apartments, retail on the plaza and office space in the tower. The tower’s west annex office wing has been converted into apartments, with a mixture of market-rate studio and one-bedroom rental units, as well as two-bedroom apartments. The 3.5-acre concrete plaza area and east annex has been redeveloped into retail and community uses with a variety of outdoor seating.
  • Represented a $5 billion, shovel-ready, 6 million-square-foot advanced manufacturing park in Genesee County, NY. We provided guidance on land use and zoning, real estate and environmental permitting, land acquisition and successful defense of adequacy of environmental review litigation. Work included initial land acquisition, clearance from the State Historic Preservation Office, wetlands permitting efforts with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, negotiation of an $8.5 million incentive Zoning Agreement with the Town of Alabama, and permit applications for all infrastructure with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, NYSDEC and consultation with the Tonawanda Seneca Nation.
  • Served as project lead for the County of Erie as the lead agency for the environmental impact review process pursuant to the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act for the new $1.5 billion Buffalo Bills NFL stadium. Representation included review and drafting of documentation necessary to complete the timely review of an open-air NFL stadium, as well as coordination with the project sponsor, the Buffalo Bills, numerous consultants and 40 other state and local agencies. The project will include construction of a 1.35 million-square-foot, eight to nine-level, open-air NFL stadium and a 75,000-square-foot ancillary building, plus the demolition of the existing 1970s era 71,000-seat stadium.

Meet Our SEQRA and Environmental Impact Review Team


Lauren Adornetto Associate
David L. Cook Partner
Matthew J. Fitzgerald Senior Associate
Lindsey E. Haubenreich Partner
Kimberly R. Nason Partner
Thomas F. Puchner Partner
Adam S. Walters Partner
Meet the Team
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