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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