Posted by: Patricia Salkin | November 22, 2009

Site Plan Review and Environmental Impact Determination Upheld

Reiterating that planning boards are not authorized to interpret provisions of local zoning laws, an appeals Court found that nothing in the board’s resolution approving a site plan purported to evaluate the proposed use in light of the zoning code.  The allegation that the board made an implicit interpretation by merely approving the site plan was found by the Court to be both unsound and unsupported by the record.

With respect to the board’s finding of no significant impact on the environment, and hence a negative declaration under the State Environmental Quality Review Act, the Court concluded that the board properly took the required “hard look” and made a “reasoned elaboration” of the basis for its determination.  The Court found that the board appropriately investigated concerns over aesthetic and community character impacts and consulted the Town’s Open Space Study and Comprehensive Land Use Plan in reaching its determination.  Therefore, the board’s proposed determination that the project which included significant landscaping, open space and an 11-acre nature preserve, would not have a significant impact on the environment was supported by the record.

East Moriches Property Owners’ Assoc., Inc. v. Planning Board of the Town of Brookhaven, 2009 WL 3382993 (N.Y. A.D. 2 Dept. 10/20/2009)

The opinion can be accessed at: http://www.nycourts.gov/reporter/3dseries/2009/2009_07632.htm


Responses

  1. After reading the case of East Moriches Property Owner’s Assoc. v. Planning Board of Town of Brookhaven, I believe that the court made the proper determination in upholding the Planning Boards SEQRA analysis. The objections to the negative declaration included that the proposed project would adversely impact the community’s character. This declaration must be supported by substantial evidence and in this case the Planning Board did just that. Not only did the Planning Board hear public sentiment about the community’s character but correctly researched whether the community has historical or cultural resources that would be impacted by the project. The Planning Board based its negative declaration on public comment, research of the cultural landscape of the area, and the land use ordinances and plans in the community when concluding that the project would not have an adverse environmental impact. This is the type of substantial evidence that the court should always take a hard look at when reviewing a SEQRA community character declaration.


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