MAY 2021 by Brien Weiner
We are sad to report that the Sierra Club’s lawsuit to stop the destruction of woodlands and wetlands at Hempstead Lake State Park (HLSP) was dismissed on February 22, 2021 by NYS Supreme Court Justice Sharon M.J. Gianelli. The HLSP Project is funded by a Sandy recovery grant from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and overseen by the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery. SSAS’ history in opposing the project can be found here. SSAS initiated the lawsuit in January 2020, but the legal fees became prohibitive; we thank the Sierra Club for taking on the Article 78 challenge and taking a stand on our State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA), which, for too long, has favored developers. Indeed, in the case of HLSP, the Court ruled:
“Judicial review of an agency determination under SEQRA is limited to whether the lead agency identified the relevant areas of environmental concern, took a hard look at them, and made a reasoned elaboration of the basis for its determination... The Court’s role is not to second-guess the agency’s determination.”
It is a tragedy and a travesty that our environmental laws and NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) failed to protect a designated NYS Important Bird Area and the last and largest area of open space in western Nassau County.