Justia New York Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Zoning, Planning & Land Use
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The Court of Appeals affirmed the Appellate Division's decision confirming the determination of the Environmental Control Board (ECB) concluding that petitioner corporations were outdoor advertising companies (OACs), holding that by advertising a distinct legal entity on their buildings, petitioner corporations made space available to "others" under Administrative Code 28.502.1. Petitioner corporations were owned either by John Ciafone or by both Ciafone and his spouse. Each of the buildings owned by the corporations had signage affixed to it advertising Ciafone's law practice. The New York City Department of Buildings cited the corporations for violations of the Administrative Code of the City of New York, as well as the New York City Zoning Resolution. The determination was affirmed on administrative appeal. The court of Appeals affirmed, holding that Ciafone, his professional corporation, and the petitioner corporations were separate legal entities, and therefore, the petitioner corporations were OACs under the plain language of Administrative Code 28-502.1. View "Franklin Street Realty Corp. v. NYC Environmental Control Board" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the order of the Appellate Division affirming a Supreme Court judgment enjoining a three-day music and camping festival on Landowner's rural property in the Town of Delaware, holding that the challenged provisions of local zoning laws did not unconstitutionally restrict Landowner's First Amendment rights and were not void for vagueness. Landowner planned to sponsor on his sixty-eight-acre property a three-day event during which attendees would camp on the property and view live outdoor music performances. The Town commenced this action seeking an injunction against the event, alleging it was prohibited by the Town's Zoning Law. Supreme Court granted the Town's motion for summary judgment and permanently enjoined Landowner from holding the festival on his property. The Appellate Division affirmed, concluding that that relevant Zoning Law provisions were content-neutral time, place, and manner restrictions compatible with the First Amendment. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the zoning provisions at issue satisfied the intermediate scrutiny test for content-neutral time, place and manner restrictions and survived Defendant's overbreadth challenge; and (2) Landowner's facial and as-applied void for vagueness challenges likewise failed. View "Town of Delaware v. Leifer" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the Appellate Division affirming the decision of Supreme Court annulling the decision of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) to approve the redevelopment of 346 Broadway, a historic building that the LPC previously designated as a landmark, holding that the LPC's decision was not irrational or affected by errors of law. If an application seeks to alter or demolish a landmark, the LPC must issue a certificate of appropriateness (COA) before the proposed work can begin. In this case, a developer seeking to convert the 346 Broadway into private residences sought a COA from the LPC. The LPC approved the proposal. Supreme Court annulled the COA, The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the Appellate Division erred in concluding that the LPC acted with "no rational basis" and that the LPC's decisions were not affected by an error of law. View "Save America's Clocks, Inc. v City of New York" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether the Town of Champion, which replaced a fire protection district with two substitute fire protection districts, complied with its statutory obligation to dissolve and terminate the fire protection district. Petitioners filed this N.Y. C.P.L.R. 78 proceeding claiming that the Town of Champion failed to accomplish and complete the dissolution of the Town of Champion Fire Protection District, as required by the General Municipal Law. Supreme Court dismissed the petition, concluding that the Town followed the required procedures and acted within its authority. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the Town’s actions were not improper because the Town prepared, approved, and implemented a dissolution plan in compliance with the applicable statutory requirements and lawfully created two legally distinct fire protection districts to deliver fire protection services to Town residents, in accordance with Town Law section 170. View "Waite v. Town of Champion" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was New York City’s 2001 zoning amendments that affected the City’s adult entertainment industry. Plaintiffs, an adult video store and an establishment that showed adult films, brought this case seeking a declaration that the 2001 amendments were facially unconstitutional as a violation of free speech. After years of litigation, the Court of Appeals ruled that judgment be granted in favor of the City, holding that the City met its burden of demonstrating that the establishments affected by the City’s 2001 zoning amendments retained a continued focus on sexually explicit materials or activities. Therefore, under a 2005 decision of the Court of Appeals in this case, the amendments did not violate Plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights. View "For the People Theatres of N.Y. Inc. v. City of New York" 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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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