Monday, December 28, 2009
She finally found her spot. I figured she deserved some publicity.
Friday, December 25, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Dear SBEC Members: A complaint was filed in State Supreme Court yesterday by SBEC attorney George Locker. The associated news release attached explains the grounds of the complaint. Feel free to distribute this widely.
Each of you is entitled to file a letter requesting to be made a Party of Interest in the SEQRA review. This will ensure that you will be informed of all review proceedings, including a public hearing, should there be one. You may use the SBEC letter as a template (See below **).
Please phone your inquiries and questions to the litigation hotline; someone will get back to you as soon as possible.
And here is the Press Release that was attached:
Lawsuit Commenced Against Unlawful Hotel Project
PRESS RELEASE 14 December 2009
The Stony Brook Environmental Conservancy, Inc., Michelle Pizer, President of the Stony Brook University Environmental Club and Muriel Weyl, a distinguished resident of Stony Brook and New York City, have filed suit in State Supreme Court, Manhattan, against the State University of New York. They seek a judicial declaration that SUNY’s efforts to sublease public lands at the main entrance to Stony Brook University to build a 135-room commercial hotel is based upon special enabling legislation that expired in 1990, and thus is unlawful.
In 1986 and 1989, the New York Legislature enacted special enabling legislation that permitted SUNY to lease 11 acres of public land on the Stony Brook campus to a private developer capable of construction and operation of a conference center/hotel on the campus, primarily to facilitate educational activities. The site the legislature specified is untouched perimeter forest, lining the western side of Nicolls Rd, a heavily wooded four lane commercial highway that bisects the campus.
By its terms, the authority granted to SUNY by the special legislation expired if the Attorney General, the Director of the Budget and the Comptroller of the State of New York did not approve a lease to a private developer by August 2, 1990. We maintain that the Legislature, which specified a deadline, did not intend or authorize SUNY to enter into a sham lease with a paper company for 20 years, while no hotel was constructed. This is exactly what has occurred.
On or about December 5, 1989, SUNY as landlord entered into a ground lease with the Stony Brook Foundation Realty, Inc. as tenant. Although required by the special legislation, the Attorney General did not approve the substance of the ground lease. We maintain that the lease is therefore invalid and provides no authority.
The suit claims that SBF Realty Inc. has no experience whatsoever, and was not capable of, constructing or operating a conference center/hotel. Indeed, the enabling legislation expired and no hotel was built.
NO PAYMENTS EVER MADE IN LIEU OF REAL ESTATE TAXES
Moreover, as a check on SUNY and its proposed developer, the special legislation explicitly provided that unless the lessee of the land “…pays[s] an amount equal to and in lieu of all property taxes…” the underlying lease or contract “shall be void”.
To date no payments in lieu of taxes have been made by SBF Realty Inc.; neither has SUNY demanded it. Moreover, a million dollars in rent due to SUNY was forgiven. The plaintiffs claim that the 1989 ground lease
is null and void and the planned hotel construction has no legal authority because the statutory requirement that Realty make payments in lieu of taxes was never followed.
PRESIDENT STANLEY’S CONFLICT OF INTEREST
According to a May 5, 2009 story in the online newspaper the Stony Brook Independent, the university's new president, Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D., receives an annual salary which includes $400,000 from SUNY, as well as $150,000 annually from the Stony Brook Foundation, which are opposite parties - Landlord and Tenant - to the 1989 ground lease.
On October 14, 2009 President Stanley announced that an agreement had been reached with Harbor Construction Management LLC of Port Jefferson NY to construct a 135-room commercial hotel. Harbor is owned by a former trustee of SBF. Because the President has a fiduciary duty to SUNY, and not to SBF, his participation in the real estate transaction is forbidden as an impermissible conflict of interest.
Our lawsuit seeks a halt to the hotel project and the return of the land to SUNY. It follows weeks of fruitless negotiation by students, professors, community organizations, residents, and local legislators with President Stanley’s office to find a more appropriate site for the hotel with less environmental impact and consistent with the educational mission of the university. SUNY needs to seek authorization of a new ground lease from the New York Legislature. President Stanley’s intransigence leaves us no alternative but to seek relief from the courts.
For more information, telephone our special litigation hotline:
The Stony Brook Environmental Conservancy, Inc. (SBEC) is a community based, non-profit corporation with a mission to help preserve, protect and enhance the unique environmental heritage of the greater Stony Brook area. SBEC is governed by an elected Board of Directors that includes community leaders, scientists, educators, environmental consultants, university alumni and students.
**This is the format to follow to become a Party of Interest:
December 4, 2009
Ms. Barbara Chernow
Vice President for Facilities and Services
221 Administration Building
State University of New York
Stony Brook NY 11794-1002
Re: SEQRA Review of Proposed Campus Hotel
Dear Ms. Chernow:
This is to request that [the Stony Brook Environmental Conservancy] be designated as a Party of Interest pertaining to all matters related to the SEQRA review for the proposed campus hotel.
[The Stony Brook Environmental Conservancy] wish[es] to be informed of the time and place of the public hearing to discuss the SEQRA review. Clearly the public hearing should be held here and not in Albany.
[The Stony Brook Environmental Conservancy] also wish[es] to be assured that the proceedings of the SEQRA public hearing, including submitted documents, will be incorporated into the final review.
[Malcolm J. Bowman]
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Saturday, December 12, 2009
The December 10 issue of The Village Times has a story (page A5) on the Town Hall meeting.
The civility of that meeting was mentioned in an editorial in the same issue (page A14). Same page contained another letter.
The University has set up a website devoted to the hotel issue.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Dear SBEC Members:
Thanks to all who attended the Town Hall meeting on Friday. Over 150 people from both the university and community attended; so many the venue had to be shifted to the SAC auditorium. The meeting ran one hour over the allotted time. Many ideas were eloquently expressed on both sides of the issue, mainly against locating the hotel at the designated site. The Setauket Fire Department talked about increased stress from an extra facility in their territory. Craig Lehmann from the Health Sciences Center talked about how important the hospital is to the community (nobody disputes that). A letter was read from the Veteran's Home about the need for respect (they have it) and access to accommodations by visiting families.
I began and ended my presentation claiming that it is a violation of New York State Environmental Conservation Law and Regulations to remove ANY FOLIAGE before the SEQRA review is completed, even for foundation test hole borings. This claim is based on New York State Environmental Conservation Law, Section § 8-0109.
Item 6 states (see <http://public.leginfo.state.ny.us/menugetf.cgi?COMMONQUERY=LAWS>)
6. To the extent as may be prescribed by the commissioner pursuant to
section 8-0113, the environmental impact statement prepared pursuant to
subdivision two of this section together with the comments of public and
federal agencies and members of the public, shall be filed with the
commissioner, made available to the public, and, unless impracticable,
posted on a publicly-available Internet website prior to acting on the
proposal which is the subject of the environmental impact statement.
Section §617.3 General rules of SEQRA regulations (see <http://www.dec.ny.gov/regs/4490.html#18109>) states
(a) No agency involved in an action may undertake, fund or approve the action until it has complied with the provisions of SEQR. A project sponsor may not commence any physical alteration related to an action until the provisions of SEQR have been complied with. The only exception to this is provided under paragraphs 617.5(c)(18), (21) and (28) of this Part. An involved agency may not issue its findings and decision on an action if it knows any other involved agency has determined that the action may have a significant adverse impact on the environment until a final EIS has been filed. The only exception to this is provided under subparagraph 617.9(a)(5)(i) of this Part.
We will be reminding university counsel of these statutes and regulations.
SBEC has formally requested to be listed as a Party of Interest to the preparation of the Environmental Impact Statement (see attachment). This means SBEC must be informed of all reports and dates of public meetings, etc. This letter was hand delivered to VP Barbara Chernow by me at the Town Hall meeting.
What next? If you still have not written a letter to President Stanley and VP Barbara Chernow, do so now. It is important to keep a continuous stream of viewpoints pouring into administration.
See the December 4 Newsday story by Olivia Winslow "Eco-concerns raised at Stony Brook hotel plan meeting".
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
There will also be a live feed of the event at Thinksb
SUMMARY of the situation to date (Dec. 5, 2009)