The Third Department determined petitioners did not have standing to contest the negative declaration under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) allowing the town’s purchase of land held by a nature conservancy:
It is well settled that standing to challenge an alleged SEQRA violation by a governmental entity requires a petitioner to demonstrate “that it would suffer direct harm, injury that is in some way different from that of the public at large” … . Importantly, “[p]etitioners must have more than generalized environmental concerns to satisfy that burden and, unlike . . . cases involving zoning issues, there is no presumption of standing to raise a SEQRA or other environmental challenge based on a party’s close proximity alone” … .
Here, petitioners claim of standing is based upon the fact that they own property directly adjacent to the nature preserve and have asserted concerns that the Town, in conducting its SEQRA review, failed to consider the impact of increased motor vehicle and pedestrian traffic and/or the environmental effect that a newly proposed parking lot and hiking trail would have on the nature preserve. Initially, assuming, without deciding, that petitioners adequately established their ownership interest in the property directly adjacent to the nature preserve, their position as adjacent landowners does not automatically confer standing on them to challenge the Town Board’s negative declaration … . Moreover, petitioners’ asserted concerns fail to allege any unique or distinct injury that they will suffer as a result of the Town’s proposed land acquisition that is not generally applicable to the public at large … . Matter of Hohman v Town of Poestenkill, 2020 NY Slip Op 00013, Third Dept 1-2-20