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Zoning Amendment to Aid One Property Is Not Spot Zoning, Nor Did It Violate SEQRA or GML

The Appellate Division found that a zoning amendment adopted “primarily” to assist one property owner is not spot zoning. In the Matter of Marcus v. Bd. of Trustees of the Village of Wesley Hills, the Court found that while ” there is no doubt that the Local Law was adopted primarily for the benefit of the plant nursery and arborist business operated by Ira Wickes and Rockland Tree Expert, Inc., doing business as Ira Wickes Arborist (hereinafter together Wickes), zoning changes are not invalid merely because a single parcel is involved in or benefitted by said changes (see Rodgers v Village of Tarrytown, 302 NY at 124).”

In upholding the local law the Court found that the use was compatible with other uses in the area and the Village’s comprehensive plan. Significantly, the Court noted that two other properties in the Village could meet the requirements under the challenged amendment. Further the, Court held: “there is no evidence in the record that Wickes’s use of the property in compliance with the Local Law and a special permit issued thereunder would be detrimental to owners of other properties in the area…”

In addressing SEQRA issues, the Court found that the issuance of a negative declaration was In conformity with the regulations and also noted, “the Board’s deferral of site-specific review of certain environmental issues to the Village’s Planning Board, upon its consideration of individual special permit applications, was no less protective of the environment (see 6 NYCRR 617.3[g][1]).”

Finally, in interpreting the requirements of General Municipal Law, the Court held:

“There is no merit to the petitioners’ contention that the Local Law should be annulled due to the Board’s failure to timely file a report of the final action it had taken in connection with the Local Law with the Rockland County Department of Planning within 30 days after the final action pursuant to General Municipal Law § 239-m(6). Under the circumstances of this case, where the Board otherwise complied with the referral provisions of General Municipal Law § 239-m and there is no claim of prejudice, the Board’s failure to timely file a report of the final action with the Rockland County Department of Planning after adopting the Local Law was a mere procedural irregularity (cf. Matter of Zelnick v Small, 268 AD2d 527, 529; Matter of Ernalex Constr. Realty Corp. v City of Glen Cove, 256 AD2d 336, 338).”

-Steven Silverberg