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Proximity of Neighborhood Access Road to Project Site Not Sufficient for Standing to Challenge Site Plan

The Appellate division determined that mere proximity of a neighborhood access road was not sufficient to create standing for individuals who reside 1,300 to 2,000 feet from a proposed regional mall. In Matter of Riverhead Neighborhood Preservation Coalition v. Town of Riverhead Town Board, a local neighborhood association challenged the site plan approval for a regional mall that would have its main entrance directly across from the access road that serviced a specific neighborhood that included members of the group challenging the site plan approval. Noting that the standing of the association was dependent on whether individual members of the association would have had standing on their own, the Court held:

“Contrary to the petitioners’ contention, the Supreme Court properly concluded that they lacked standing. ” [I]n land use matters . . . the plaintiff[s], for standing purposes, must show that [they] would suffer direct harm, injury that is in some way different from that of the public at large'” …Here, the individual petitioners, none of whom allege that the site of the proposed mall is visible from their homes, do not live close enough to the site to be afforded a presumption of injury-in-fact based on proximity alone (see Matter of Finger Lakes Zero Waste Coalition, Inc. v Martens, 95 AD3d 1420, 1421-1422; Matter of Harris v Town Bd. of Town of Riverhead, 73 AD3d 922, 924; Matter of East End Prop. Co. # 1, LLC v Town Bd. of Town of Brookhaven, 56 AD3d 773, 777-778; Matter of Long Is. Contractors’ Assn. v Town of Riverhead, 17 AD3d 590, 595). Further, the individual petitioners’ allegations are insufficient to demonstrate that the construction of the proposed mall would cause them to suffer an environmental injury different from that of members of the public at large, who use Fairway Drive for access, inter alia, to a golf course….”

-Steven Silverberg