Justia New York Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Zoning, Planning & Land Use

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Petitioner maintained a large outdoor advertising sign on the sign of its building that was grandfathered in as a legal, non-conforming use. In 2008, the building and the sign were demolished. Petitioner applied with the New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) to erect a new support structure and a new sign. The Manhattan Borough Building Commissioner approved the new sign permit. Thereafter, DOB issued the permit. In 2010, the DOB revoked the permits for both the support structure and the sign, as the zoning resolution did not permit display of advertising signs in the zoning district at issue and the new sign did not qualify as a grandfathered replacement. Petitioner commenced this N.Y. C.P.L.R. 78 proceeding arguing that it had relied in good faith on the Commissioner’s approval and subsequently-issued permits in expending substantial funds to install the new sign. Supreme Court denied the petition. The Appellate Division reversed. The Court of Appeals affirmed as modified, holding (1) by relying on the erroneously issued permit for the advertising sign, Petitioner did not acquire a vested right to maintain the sign on its property; and (2) the appropriate procedure to resolve the issue of Petitioner’s good-faith reliance on the erroneously issued permit was an application for a zoning variance. View "Perlbinder Holdings, LLC v. Srinivasan" on Justia Law

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Petitioner maintained a large outdoor advertising sign on the sign of its building that was grandfathered in as a legal, non-conforming use. In 2008, the building and the sign were demolished. Petitioner applied with the New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) to erect a new support structure and a new sign. The Manhattan Borough Building Commissioner approved the new sign permit. Thereafter, DOB issued the permit. In 2010, the DOB revoked the permits for both the support structure and the sign, as the zoning resolution did not permit display of advertising signs in the zoning district at issue and the new sign did not qualify as a grandfathered replacement. Petitioner commenced this N.Y. C.P.L.R. 78 proceeding arguing that it had relied in good faith on the Commissioner’s approval and subsequently-issued permits in expending substantial funds to install the new sign. Supreme Court denied the petition. The Appellate Division reversed. The Court of Appeals affirmed as modified, holding (1) by relying on the erroneously issued permit for the advertising sign, Petitioner did not acquire a vested right to maintain the sign on its property; and (2) the appropriate procedure to resolve the issue of Petitioner’s good-faith reliance on the erroneously issued permit was an application for a zoning variance. View "Perlbinder Holdings, LLC v. Srinivasan" on Justia Law

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Applicants sought approval from the Town of North Hempstead Board of Zoning and Appeals (the Board) to place a full-service restaurant in a storefront that had most recently housed a retail gift shop. Restaurants in this area were permitted subject to the issuance of a conditional use permit. The Board granted the conditional use permit and an area variance from the Town’s parking and loading/unloading restrictions. Colin Realty, LLC (Colin), the owner of a multi-tenant retail building next to the property at issue, commenced this action seeking to annul the Board’s determination and obtain a declaration that the proposed restaurant required a use rather than an area variance from the Town’s parking and loading/unloading restrictions. Supreme Court denied the petition and dismissed the action. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the Board properly considered the application as a request for an area variance rather than a use variance. View "Matter of Colin Realty Co., LLC v. Town of N. Hempstead" on Justia Law

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These two appeals concerned the efforts of two corporations to explore and develop natural gas resources in two municipalities. In response, both municipalities adopted amendments to their zoning laws that prohibited all oil and gas exploration. The corporations brought actions challenging the zoning laws. Supreme Court declared the zoning laws valid, and the Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the supersession clause in the statewide Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Law does not preempt the home rule authority vested in municipalities to regulate oil and gas production activities, including hydrofracking, within municipal boundaries through the adoption of zoning laws. View "Wallach v. Town of Dryden " on Justia Law

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Appellant was a land owner seeking to develop property located in the Town of Brookhaven as a site for a Lowe's Home Improvement Center. The Town sought to rezone property that included Appellant's parcel from "J Business 2" (J-2) to commercial recreation (CR) zoning. The proposed Lowe's Center would not have complied with the CR zone classification. Before a hearing on the classification issue, Appellant's predecessor in interest submitted a site plan application to the Town for the Lowe's Center to be built on the parcel. The Town subsequently adopted a resolution rezoning the parcel to CR. Appellant sought a declaration that the site plan application was subject to review under the previous J-2 zoning classification because the Town had unduly delayed the review of the application. On remand, Supreme Court concluded that special facts warranted the application of the previous J-2 zoning classification to Appellant's application. The Appellate Division reversed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that Appellant failed to meet the threshold requirement that it was entitled to the requested land use permit under the law as it existed when it filed its application, and the special facts exception did not apply to this case. View "Rocky Point Drive-In, L.P. v Town of Brookhaven" on Justia Law

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A building zone ordinance of the Town of Hemptead provided that in any use district, with the exception of two districts, check-cashing establishments were expressly prohibited. In a memorandum supporting the provision, the deputy town attorney discussed the perceived social evil of check-cashing services and that public policy was served by this use of the zoning power. Several check-cashing establishments brought this action seeking a declaratory judgment that the ordinance was invalid, and an injunction against its enforcement. Supreme Court granted summary judgment dismissing the complaint. The Appellate Division reversed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the ordinance was not a legitimate object of the zoning power, nor could it be justified on the ground that it protected the health and safety of the community against the dangers created by armed robbery. View "Sunrise Check Cashing & Payroll Servs., Inc. v. Town of Hempstead" on Justia Law

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Ronald and Margaret Marchard owned property in the Village of Bayville through which runs a dirt road called the Travelled Way. The Marchands asserted that the road was private property, while the Village maintained that it was a Village Street. Supreme Court, after a non-jury trial, entered judgment in favor of the Village, declaring that the Travelled Way was a Village street. The appellate division affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) a road is not public unless the public takes responsibility for maintaining and repairing it; and (2) because the Village had not maintained or repaired the road, the Travelled Way was a private road and not a Village street. View "Marchand v. State Dep't of Envtl. Conservation" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was a rezoning proposal for Sunset Park, a predominantly residential neighborhood in Brooklyn. Following public hearings, the Department of City Planning (DCP), the lead agency here, prepared an environmental assessment statement (EAS) and issued a negative declaration, concluding that the proposed rezoning would not have an adverse impact on the environment. Petitioners sought to annul the negative declaration on the ground that DCP's environmental review of the proposed rezoning was not in compliance with the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act and the City Environmental Quality Review rules. Supreme Court denied the petition and dismissed the proceeding. The appellate division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that DCP neither abused its discretion nor was arbitrary or capricious when it issued its negative declaration because in its EAS the DCP identified the relevant areas of environmental concern, took a hard look at them, and made a reasoned elaboration of the basis for its determination. View "Chinese Staff & Workers' Ass'n v. Burden" on Justia Law