Posted by: Patricia Salkin | May 17, 2009

Appeals Court Overturns Denial of Site Plan for Tractor Supply Store as Board’s Decision was Arbitrary, Capricious and Irrational Based on the Record

The planning board denied petitioner’s application for a site plan approval on the grounds that the proposal includes impermissible sidewalk retail pursuant to the town’s zoning law. However, the Court found that the term “sidewalk retail” was not defined in the zoning law and concluded that its meaning is ambiguous. The Court noted that while a planning board’s interpretation of a zoning ordinance is entitled to great deference, where there is ambiguity it is to be resolved in favor of the property owner. Further, the Court concluded that there was no basis in the record to support the board’s denial on the ground that certain outdoor storage and display areas constituted a “building” in excess of the size permitted in the District. Since the areas were neither roofed nor intended for shelter, the Court determined that they do not constitute buildings within the meaning of the town zoning law. Additionally, the Court noted that the Board’s denial on the ground that those areas would create an appearance inconsistent with the surrounding area was irrational since the proposed landscaping would screen the objectionable features from public view. The Court also commented that to the extent that the Board’s denial was based on the belief that the use was nonconforming, the Board was obligated to honor the use variance that attached to the property.

Lodge Hotel, Inc. v. Town of Erwin Planning Board, 2009 WL 1163875 (N.Y.A.D. 4 Dept. 5/1/2009).

The opinion can be accessed at:
http://www.courts.state.ny.us/ad4/court/Decisions/2009/05-01-09/PDF/0551.pdf



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