This is prompted by David Gibson’s op-ed a week or so ago. David calls for the APA to return to its former practice of reporting finds of fact. He believes, as I read him, that this would justify the exemption of the agency from New York’s environmental review law, SEQRA, and result in better decisions.
I agree. Experience throughout the U.S. makes it clear that the best way, which is to say the most disciplined and defensible way to report significant land use decisions is in the form of findings of fact and conclusions of law. The terminology can vary, but these functions are essential. I will also take David’s argument further. Proposed findings and conclusions should be available for public review and comment before the public hearing that should precede all significant land-use decisions. That’s the minimum transparency needed.