Posted On: December 31, 2011

Court Dismisses Civil Rights Claim

The Appellate Division affirmed dismissal of a claim under 42 U.S.C. §1983 for violation of civil rights, based upon a claim of improper delay in issuing a certificate of occupancy for a house. In Matter of Zarabi v. Incorporated Village of Roslyn Harbor, the Court found that the existence of unapproved changes in the construction served as a legitimate basis for the delay in issuing the certificate of occupancy.

As the Court noted:

"the defendants established, prima facie, that, inasmuch as there were building code violations on the property that needed to be corrected, which the plaintiff conceded, any delays in issuing the certificate of occupancy did not amount to egregious conduct so as to amount to a deprivation of the plaintiff's property interests without due process (see Bower Assoc. v Town of Pleasant Val., 2 NY3d 617, 628-629; Sonne v Board of Trustees of Vil. of Suffern, 67 AD3d 192, 202)."

The Court found the balance of Plaintiff's claims without merit.

-Steven Silverberg

Posted On: December 28, 2011

Court Holds Change of Comprehensive Plan to Permit Rezoning of One Parcel Was Not Spot Zoning

The Appellate Division held that despite the fact that a parcel had been zoned for industrial use for fifty years, and that the Town's comprehensive plan designated the parcel for industrial use, a rezoning and change of the comprehensive plan to residential use of the parcel was a proper exercise of discretion. In Matter of Rotterdam Ventures, Inc. v Town Bd. of the Town of Rotterdam, the Court found the property in question had been used as a multifamily residential property for the period in question and the rezoning was consistent with the transitional nature of the site between an industrial use and a residential neighborhood.

The Petitioner owns an industrial site which was part of an army depot that also included the parcel in question that had been used to house military families. When the Respondent SYNC acquired the site in 2008 it first sought a variance, which was denied and then petitioned for a rezoning, which was granted. The Town issued a SEQRA negative declaration finding that the rezoning was consistent with the current use of the property and would have fewer impacts than the potential use as an industrial site under the existing zoning.

The Court upheld the SEQRA determination and found that the rezoning did not, as Petitioner claimed, constitute spot zoning. Rather, the court found the fact that prior revisions to the comprehensive plan did not suggest a residential use of the property was not proof of spot zoning, because "although the property abuts a portion of petitioner's industrial park, it also projects into an area of predominantly residential use. The Town, including its senior planner, concluded that rezoning the property so as to permit its continued use for residential purposes would benefit the community by retaining a transitional area between residential/commercial and industrial zones, whereas industrial use of the property would create an incongruity with the character of the existing neighborhood. Petitioner's reliance on the Town's failure to rezone the property as part of the 2001 and 2009 revisions of the comprehensive plan is misplaced, as the studies that supported that revision did not include an evaluation of SYNC's property. According to the Town's senior planner who oversaw the revisions, the industrial zoning classification for this property was simply continued without discussion or analysis."

Thus, the Court concluded that Petitioner had failed to prove the rezoning and change in the comprehensive plan was unlawful.

-Steven M. Silverberg

Posted On: December 26, 2011

Court Orders Town To Complete SEQRA Process

The Appellate Division directed that the Town of Oyster Bay file a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and take final action upon a special permit application by Costco. In the Matter of Costco Wholesale Corporation, v. Town Board of the Town of Oyster Bay, the Appellate Division affirmed the lower court judgment directing that the Town "complete environmental review of the petitioners' proposal to develop a retail store, and to take final action upon the petitioners' applications for a special use permit and site plan."

This case involves an application for site plan and a special permit that has been going on since 2001. In 2003 the Town denied the application and thereafter the Supreme Court remitted the matter for the Town to comply with SEQRA. The Town then issued a positive declaration, a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) was prepared and a hearing held in January 2007, with the public comment period being closed on January 31, 2007. Costco made three submissions of a proposed FEIS, the last being in April 2009 and then started this Article 78 proceeding, seeking to compel the Town to complete the SEQRA process and make a decision on the special permit and site plan applications.

In upholding the lower court's direction that the Town complete SEQRA and issue a determination on the applications, the Court held:

"Contrary to the Town's contentions, the Supreme Court properly determined that the Town's failure to act pursuant to the applicable local code provision (see Code of the Town of Oyster Bay § 110-9 [I]), as well as the applicable SEQRA provision (see 6 NYCRR 617.9[a][5]) requiring it to "prepare or cause to be prepared and . . . file a final EIS, within 45 calendar days after the close of any hearing or within 60 calendar days after the filing of the draft EIS, whichever occurs later," warranted mandamus relief (id.; see Matter of Mamaroneck Beach & Yacht Club, Inc. v Fraioli, 24 AD3d 669, 671; Matter of 2433 Knapp St. Rest. Bar v Department of Consumer Affairs of City of N.Y., 150 AD2d 464, 465)."

-Steven M. Silverberg

Posted On: December 16, 2011

Failure to Challenge Zoning Board Action Within Thirty Days of Filing Minutes Ruled Fatal

The Appellate Division held that the filing of a zoning board's minutes, rather than the subsequent filing of the zoning board's formal decision, commenced the running of thirty day statue of limitations for challenging that decision. In Matter of 92 MM Motel, Inc. v. Zoning Board of Appeals of the Town of Newburgh, the court found that, as the minutes of the meeting reflected the vote of each member of the zoning board, the filing of the minutes commenced the running of the statute of limitations. The court therefore concluded that the commencement of an Article 78 proceeding within 30 days of the filing of the formal decision was time barred when the minutes were filed with the Town Clerk more than thirty days prior to the commencement of the action.

-Steven Silverberg