To the editor:
I'm a Caz resident and a lawyer who has been litigating cases under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) for many years. It's not often you see a case as clear-cut as the case against Cazenovia College's proposed athletic field fence.
The village zoning enforcement officer has it absolutely right: for SEQRA purposes, the fence is part and parcel of the athletic field development project as a whole, and it is disingenuous of the college to argue it's not. Any decision to consider the fence an “independent” project would violate the SEQRA segmentation rules.
The segmentation rules are intended to keep developers from pulling a fast one. They require the government agency reviewing a permit application to take a comprehensive look at an entire project — both those elements to be constructed immediately and those planned for later — even if a given permit application seeks permission only for those to be constructed immediately. Otherwise, developers would seek to permit their projects piecemeal, carefully tailoring each permit application so the element under review — when viewed in isolation — seems relatively innocuous.
This is exactly what the college appears to have done. It's dishonest, and worse, it's unlawful. It should not be countenanced. The neighbors deserve to be protected by having SEQRA strictly applied.