Posted by: Patricia Salkin | May 22, 2008

In Annexation Effort Senior Housing Outweighed the Public Interest in Tax Ratables

In some states, as part of the process to annex territory, the annexing municipality must prove that such move is in the overall public interest. There are often competing public interests when one municipality is persuaded by a developer to support the annexation of land from the adjacent municipality. Such was the case in Orange County, New York.

 

 

The Village of Harriman desired to annex certain territory in the Town of Monroe which is zoned by the Town as “General business,” and residential uses are prohibited. The developer owns an unimproved 3.3 acre lot in the Village that adjoins the Town’s General Business Zone.  The Village property is zoned R-100, in which only certain residential uses are allowed, however the Board of Trustees expressed an interest in creating a “floating” or “overlay” zone to facilitate development of senior housing in the Village.  As a result, the developer submitted petitions to both the Town and the Village for annexation of the subject property from the Town to the Village for purposes of developing senior housing.  The Town rejected the petition and following approval by the Village, the Village commenced the instant proceeding against the Town.

 

In determining whether a proposed annexation is in the overall public interest, a court is to weigh the benefit or detriment to the annexing municipality, to the territory proposed to be annexed, and to the remaining donor governmental unit from which the territory is taken.  The Court found that in the present case, this burden was met since there was an undisputed need for senior housing in the area, and that the development of such a project would benefit both municipalities. Further, the Court found that municipal services to the property would remain largely unaffected by the proposed annexation. Although the Town’s goal of increasing commercial tax ratables within the town is a legitimate one, the Village presented evidence demonstrating that development of the property for commercial purposes under the Town Code to achieve that goal was not practical. Besides the fact that the property has been vacant for at least fifty years,  the Village demonstrated that any potential revenue would pale in comparison to what is generated by the Town’s 100 acre business park, which continues to expand commercially.  The Court concluded that the Town’s concern over the loss of potential commercial tax ratables is outweighed by the benefit of much needed senior citizen housing.

 

Village of Harriman v. Town of Monroe, 42 A.D. 3d 463, 839  N.Y.S.2d 221 (2nd Dept. 2007).

 

 

The opinion can be accessed at: http://www.nycourts.gov/reporter/3dseries/2007/2007_06048.htm


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