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Determination to Deny Area Variance Does Not Require Justification in Each of the Five Statutory Factors

The Appellate Division ruled that a zoning board of appeals need not justify the denial of an area variance under all five factors in the balancing test established by Town Law. In Matter of King v/ Town of Islip Zoning Board of Appeals the court upheld the denial of an area variance for a swimming pool finding that there was a rational basis for the decision of the board. The case involved a request to place a pool on a lot which did not meet the Town’s zoning requirement that a lot have at least 12,000 square feet before a pool can be constructed.

In reversing the Supreme Court decision the Appellate Division found the Supreme Court had erred. Quoting its own recent deciion in Matter of Genser v Board of Zoning and Appeals of Town of N. Hempstead, 65 AD3d 1144 (2d Dept. 2009) the court noted “‘the Zoning Board is not required to justify its determination with supporting evidence with respect to each of the five [statutory] factors, so long as its ultimate determination balancing the relevant considerations was rational….'”

Most significantly the court rejected the argument that the variance should be granted because even though the lot did not meet the minimum 12,000 square foot lot area the pool could still be placed in a manner which meets the set back requirements of the ordinance. The court found “petitioners’ primary argument was that, because the proposed pool would meet the relevant property setback requirements, it would have no greater impact than would a pool on a standard lot. However, the ZBA properly rejected this argument, as granting the application on this basis alone would render meaningless the Town Board’s legislative decision to limit above-ground swimming pools as of right to lots not less than 12,000 square feet….”

-Steven M. Silverberg

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