SEQR - Approval of Preliminary Plans
Reference Guide B.2
Capital construction projects submitted to the Office of Facilities Planning are classified as Type A or Type B:
Type A projects encompass reconstruction projects and include work to be done in or on an existing building--such as roofing, boiler replacement, or asbestos abatement. Preliminary plans (or submissions) are not required for Type A projects.
Type B projects involve the construction of new space (i.e., an addition to an existing building or the construction of a new building) and the acquisition of existing facilities not currently owned by the district. Preliminary submissions are usually required for Type B projects. This is stated in the initial response letter sent to the district upon receipt of an LOI (Letter Of Intent) form.
Each Type B project must satisfy all of the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) procedures before preliminary plans will be accepted and reviewed by the Office of Facilities Planning. Typically, preliminary plans are submitted for review and approval prior to presenting a bond proposition to the voters. In this way, there should be a "meeting of the minds" between the district and the Project Manager in the Office of Facilities Planning regarding anticipated Building Aid Units (previously referred to as "State-rated capacity") for the project. These Building Aid Units (BAUs) can then be used to determine maximum cost allowances. In addition, after obtaining preliminary approval, the district can inform the voters that the project has been conceptually approved by our office and to what extent it will be eligible for Building Aid.
When a proposed project involves a new school or a significant addition to an existing instructional facility (i.e., more than 10,000 square feet of new space) a complete preliminary submission is usually required. The proposed project would then be reviewed and approved by both the Project Manager and an architect in the Office of Facilities Planning. A complete preliminary submission would include the following exhibits:
- One completed copy of an Application for Examination and Approval of Preliminary Plans, form FP-P. The district's architect or engineer of record, the President of the Board of Education, the Superintendent of Schools, and, if the district is a dependent district, the District Superintendent, must sign and date the form.
- One completed copy of an Evaluation of the Existing Building, from EEB. The district's architect or engineer of record shall complete this form if the project involves an existing instructional building. (Note: This form is not required for projects in the Big Five cities). If the last question on the back of the form cannot be answered "Yes," then the Superintendent of Schools must also submit a letter specifying how and when each nonconformance will be corrected.
- One set of schematic, Preliminary Plans for the whole building involved in the project showing how the building will be used at the completion of the project. Plans should be at a scale that is clearly legible and must show all floors, including the basement, as well as corridors, stairs, ramps, smoke zones, door-opening swings, and windows. Designate the square footage and use of each space, the gross square footage of the total building, and clearly indicate the area encompassing new space versus the existing space.
- One site plan inclusive of the entire site, denoting walks, roads, parking areas (including accessibility), site features (streams, slopes, etc.), utilities (electric, sewer, septic, water, gas, etc.), site development areas (athletic fields, etc.), and the footprint outline of all structures already on the site or to be constructed on the site (storage sheds, etc.).
- One copy of a Facilities Needs Assessment Summary with appropriate enrollment projections. (Note: A description of what is required for this summary may be found on our Facilities Planning Website under "Forms and Manuals.")
- One set of Outline Specifications. An explanation of what we want in terms of outline specifications is included in the response letter to the district when the project is established.
- Three copies of a completed Application for Examination and Approval of a School Site, form FP-S when required. If the project includes the acquisition of a new site or expansion of an existing site, then this form must be submitted prior to or along with the rest of the preliminary submission documents. (Note: that a small plan of the site must either be on or attached to this form. A narrative description of the site must also be on or attached to the application.) The President of the Board of Education, the Superintendent of Schools, and, if the district is a dependent district, the District Superintendent, must sign the form.
- A formal site variance request, when required. The format for this variance request is available on our website. We would prefer that you submit this request well in advance of the preliminary submission but, if necessary, we will accept this request as part of the preliminary submission documents.
- One completed copy of the Instructional Space Review Form. This form must be signed by the Superintendent of Schools, the District Superintendent, and the Regional Associate for Special Education. The number of special education classrooms indicated on page 2 of this form for both the existing building and the proposed new space should include special education classrooms needed for both the school district and the BOCES. In addition, the number of classrooms indicated must agree with the preliminary and final floor plans.
- One copy of form FP-SP – Scope of Proposed Project.
- One copy of the Lead Agency’s SEQR Determination (Negative Declaration or Statement of Findings, as appropriate).
- Copy of appropriate State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) correspondence.
- If the district is subject to reorganization, submit one copy of the Application for Apportionment of Building Aid, form FP-AP.
Upon completion of a formal review and approval by both a Project Manager and an architect, a Notice of Approval of Preliminary Plans will be sent to the district. This notice would include the Building Aid Units to be used for the project, as well as any educational or construction/mechanical exceptions that would have to be corrected in the final submission documents.
At certain times, the Office of Facilities Planning is overwhelmed with project submissions and may suspend the formal review of preliminary plans for projects that involve rather small additions. Since the preliminary plan review is not a legal requirement but is a requirement established by the Department, the need for a preliminary submission can be waived at the discretion of the Project Manager or the Coordinator of the Office of Facilities Planning. However, a complete preliminary submittal and a formal review will most likely be required for new schools or very large additions to existing schools.
Although formal approval of preliminary plans is generally not needed for minor addition projects and a complete preliminary submission may be waived, the Project Manager will probably still need some basic information in order to calculate the Building Aid Units for a project involving the construction of any new instructional space. This information would include floor plans, enrollment projections, a Facilities Needs Assessment Summary, and a completed Instructional Space Review form. Furthermore, there are also some projects that would benefit from an informal review of preliminary plans by an architect in the Office of Facilities Planning when certain types of work are involved, such as fire and smoke door installations, connecting links between buildings, subdivision of rooms, and modifications to accommodate the disabled. District personnel and/or their architects and engineers are encouraged to take the initiative and contact the Office of Facilities Planning to discuss such projects.
The best time to submit preliminary plans is early in the process of planning the project. The Project Manager needs as much lead time as possible to calculate the Building Aid Units. The district should be sure that the preliminary submission is sent to the Project Manager as soon as the final decision is made on what may be built, and well before the date when the district plans to put the resolution before the voters. This may be a year or more prior to when the final plans and specifications will be submitted for the project. However, it is important to keep in mind the fact that the Project Manager does not have time to do multiple preliminary reviews of the same project, so the preliminary should only be sent when the district has decided what they actually plan to put before the voters.
Finally, please remember to put the district's name, the building's name, and the 15-digit project control number on every document submitted to the Office of Facilities Planning. Feel free to contact your assigned Project Manager if you have any questions about these procedures.