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Property Owners Within the Modified Zoning District Have Standing to Challenge Amendment

The Appellate Division Second Department modified a lower court decision dismissing an action challenging a zoning amendment, where the lower court had held that petitioners all lacked standing to bring the action. In Matter of Bloodgood v. Town of Huntington the court separated the petitioners into several categories in order to analyze the question of standing from the standpoint of the potential environmental harm to each of the petitioners resulting from the rezoning.

The challenge at issue was based upon an alleged failure to take a “hard look” at the environmental impacts of the amendment, as mandated by SEQRA, prior to adopting the zoning amendment. The court held that those owning property within the zoning district that was the subject of the amendment had standing and that “where the challenge is to the SEQRA review undertaken as part of a zoning enactment, the owner of property that is the subject of the rezoning need not allege the likelihood of environmental harm.”

Further, the court held that the lower court erred in dismissing the complaint of a property owner whose property was located within fifty to sixty feet of the rezoned district. That property owner had alleged specific adverse impacts upon his property of traffic, sewerage, and groundwater that would result from the zone change. Therefore, the court ruled he had the requisite standing to challenge the SEQRA determination.

However, the court found that the individual petitioners who owned property that was not in close proximity to the rezoned district lacked standing and that “their allegations of environmental impact are in no way different from those of the public at large.” Finally, the court found that the local civic association also lacked standing, as its standing claim is based upon the standing of its members. The civic association member upon whom the standing claim rested was one of those individuals found to lack standing himself.