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Conditions on Zoning Variance Must Be Reasonable

The Appellate Division, Second Department rejected as unreasonable a condition on an area variance that a parking lot be chained at night to prevent overnight parking. In Matter of Voetsch v. Craven the petitioner sought area variances for a parking lot adjacent to a professional office.

The Zoning Board denied a variance for a 4 foot stockade fence but granted the other area variances for the parking lot, contingent upon petitioner putting a chain at the entrance at night to prevent overnight parking on the lot when the offices were not open. The Court upheld the denial of the stockade fence but reversed that portion of the decision which required the chain across the lot at night to prevent parking.

The Court noted that a zoning board may impose reasonable conditions “directly related to and incidental to the proposed use” but that unreasonable conditions must be annulled. The court found that a condition preventing overnight parking was reasonable to minimize adverse impacts on the neighborhood. However, it held “there was no such rational basis” for also having to chain the parking lot. The decision is silent as to why the court found this condition unreasonable. This writer suspects that other parking lots in the town are not required to be chained to prevent overnight parking and that this was a unique requirement for this specific property.

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