The Town of Southampton brought this action to permanently enjoin the County of Suffolk from using trailers within the Town for the purpose of housing sex offenders. The County appealed the Supreme Court, Suffolk County’s denial of the County’s motion to dismiss the complaint as time barred. The Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department reversed.
In February, 2007, Suffolk County set up set up trailers on a County owned parcel in Westhampton to house homeless registered sex offenders. Three months later, the County set up additional trailers in Riverside, on County owned property, for the same purpose. In 2008, the Riverside trailer site was expanded to house additional individuals. In May of 2009, the Town filed a complaint against the County alleging the use of the trailers in Riverside violated local, county and state law. In May, 2010, the Town amended the complaint to include the Westhampton site. This complaint was styled as an action for permanent injunctive relief. The County moved to dismiss the action as untimely, asserting the Article 78 four month statute of limitations applied.
In reviewing the complaint, the Second Department determined that although styled as seeking injunctive relief, the purpose of the action was to review the County’s decisions in February and May of 2007. Specifically, in effect the action sought to resolve whether the County’s actions were “an abuse of discretion, arbitrary and capricious, or contrary to law.” Thus, the court concluded that the action should have been commenced via petition as a special proceeding under Article 78. The court provided that Article 78 special proceedings must be commenced with four months of the accrual of the cause of action, which, in this case, was the date that the decision was made to operate the subject housing trailers. In this action, the statute of limitations began to run in February and May of 2007, respectively, as the placing of the trailers on the properties signaled the final determination of the County.
Since the Town did not commence the action until 2009, nearly two years after the statute of limitations began to run, the Appellate Division, Second Department determined that statute of limitations bars the Town’s claims. The court further held that the Town’s negotiations with the County did not toll the statute of limitations. In light of the dismissal of the complaint as untimely, the court did not address the other contentions in the motion to dismiss, as they had become academic.
Town of Southampton v. County of Suffolk, 2012 WL 4094944 (N.Y. A. D., 2nd Dep’t, Sept. 19, 2012).
The opinion can be accessed here.