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Local Law Must Be Challenged Within Four Months Where Action Could Have Been Brought as Article 78 Proceeding

A court held that a four month statute of limitations period applies to an action challenging the validity of a local law on the ground that due notice of the law’s consideration was not given.

In P & N Tiffany Props., v. Village of Tuckahoe, the Appellate Division Second Department affirmed the lower court decision, which reasoned that since Plaintiff’s claim related to the procedures followed in adopting a local law the challenge could have been brought as an article 78 proceeding. Therefore the action was required to have been commenced within four months of the enactment of the local law Plaintiff sought to invalidate.

The question arose when the Village adopted a local law amending the fines and penalties for local code violations. Plaintiff was fined under the new law and alleged that it was invalid because it was enacted in violation of the notice provision of Village Law § 21-2100.

In reaching its holding, the court noted the rule that if a dispute can be resolved through a form of action or proceeding for which a specific statute of limitations exists, that period governs the action whether or not the form was actually employed in the plaintiff’s claim. Therefore, since Plaintiff’s claim related to an alleged procedural defect, it could have been brought as an article 78 proceeding. As a four month statute of limitation applies to such a proceeding, the appropriate limitation period is four months and the action brought four years after adoption of the law is time barred.

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