Mayor Barlow announces Successful Day in Court versus Port Authority
New York State Supreme Court Justice Gregory R. Gilbert issued a decision today annulling the motion approved by Port of Oswego Authority’s Board of Directors during a meeting last December, which authorized the reconfiguration and construction of the Dome 4 grain storage structure that obscures the view of the Oswego Lighthouse. The City of Oswego filed a lawsuit against the Port after the construction of the much larger 150 square foot and nearly 70-foot-tall building was first noticed earlier this summer.
The City of Oswego argued that the publicly available records of the Port did not support the required environmental review as mandated by the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA), which requires evidence that the approving authority take a “hard look” at the environmental impacts of a particular project. The city contended that, in fact, the Port’s Executive Director, William Scriber, unilaterally authorized the redesign of the building from a 124-foot diameter and 55-foot-high dome, to the 150 by 150 by 70 high storage structure the Court referred to as the square grain storage structure.
Mayor Billy Barlow commended the decision. “The City of Oswego has been vindicated by this ruling,” Barlow proclaimed. “The clear, open, transparent and public process for approving this project was not followed by the Port and the Court’s recognition of the concerns and objects raised by the city is a clear ruling in favor of open government,” Barlow added.
In his ruling, Judge Gilbert declared that the Port’s argument, that it took a hard look and complied with the environmental review process, relying on its engineer’s determination that the larger, more obtrusive building was not substantially or materially different than the original of building, has no merit. “By statute the Port is “the board” and not just a single member thereof or an executive director…The square grain storage structure was given no “look” at all under SEQRA by the Port Board.”
The Court ruling enjoins the Port from further construction and erection of Dome 4 and stays the completion of that building until the Port Board conducts a full and complete SEQRA review of the structure.
“Having raised the issue last November [that Dome 4 may obstruct the view of the lighthouse] and recognizing there was no Board oversight of this issue and having a Supreme Court judge agree with this obvious concern is satisfying,” commented City Attorney Kevin Caraccioli. “I commend our legal team for developing a strong case in defense of the City of Oswego, its residents, businesses and guests who identify the significance of the lighthouse in our harbor and stopped this clear overreach of public authority.”
The City of Oswego will be an active participant in all decision making related to the final disposition of Dome 4. “If the Port simply built the Dome 4 it originally approved, we likely would not have had to waste so much time on this issue,” Barlow maintained.