Town May Reduce Size of Structure as Condition to Site Plan Approval

An appellate court held that a reduction in the size of a structure by over 30% was a proper condition to site plan approval. In Matter of Greencove Associates LLC v. Town Board of the Town of North Hempstead, the appellate division found that the reduction in the size of the proposed building was appropriate to preserve a landscape buffer between the shopping center and a residential neighborhood.

Petitioner had an existing shopping center which was required to maintain a landscape buffer at an average width of 22 feet. When it applied for a 10,000 square foot addition, Petitioner proposed reducing the buffer to between 4 and 5 feet behind the new building. The Nassau County Planning Commission, as part of its General Municipal Law review, recommended reducing the building to 6,800 square feet in order to maintain the buffer.

When the Town Board implemented the reduction of the building as a condition of approval, the Petitioner brought an Article 78 proceeding. In upholding the condition the Court stated:

"the contested condition was within the Town Board's power to impose and was not affected by an error of law, arbitrary and capricious, an abuse of discretion, or irrational. "[A] condition may be imposed upon property so long as there is a reasonable relationship between the problem sought to be alleviated and the application concerning the property" (Matter of International Innovative Tech. Group Corp. v Planning Bd. of Town of Woodbury, N.Y., 20 AD3d 531, 533; Matter of Mackall v White, 85 AD2d 696, 696). Here, the contested condition was a reasonable means of assuring that the existing landscaped buffer, which was designed to screen the adjacent residential neighborhood from the effects of the shopping center, would be preserved (see Matter of International Innovative Tech. Group Corp. v Planning Bd. of Town of Woodbury, N.Y., 20 AD3d at 533; Matter of Koncelik v Planning Bd. of Town of E. Hampton, 188 AD2d 469, 470). Although the proposed 10,000 square foot building was dimensionally code compliant (see generally Moriarty v Planning Bd. of Vil. of Sloatsburg, 119 AD2d 188, 191), a structure of such size could not be placed into the southwest corner of the lot without encroaching on the existing buffer."

-Steven Silverberg