On February 20, 2014, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (“NYSDEC”) announced streamlined procedures for environmental easements. There has been a significant push from the regulated community for process reform given the resources and length of time that have been required to get necessary easements in place.
Historically NYSDEC’s requirements for an environmental easement package included a title report, a title insurance policy for the environmental easement and a survey. NYSDEC’s new streamlined procedures include revised title and survey requirements and an abbreviated Attorney Checklist. The Attorney Checklist was shortened, and while several items were moved to the survey list, several requirements were removed, including a requirement to show all easements (telephone, cable, etc.) on the property and a requirement to repeat verbatim all of the engineering and institutional controls found in the environmental easement on the face of the survey. These revisions will make the surveys more readable and will save time and expense in drafting the final surveys. The most significant change is that New York State will no longer require a title policy to insure the environmental easement. This will save time by eliminating the need to produce a title report (for most properties) and the need to coordinate between a title company, the surveyor and NYSDEC to address NYSDEC’s title policy requirements.
While more can be done to make the process more efficient and timely, any improvement in the environmental easement process is great news for owners and developers seeking certificates of completion under the Brownfield Cleanup Program or who otherwise are required to put such easements in place. This is a good example of government listening to the regulated community, evaluating its own practices and identifying ways to make its programs more efficient and practical. A link to NYSDEC’s announcement can be found here https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/NYSDEC/bulletins/a69f56.