Posted by: Patricia Salkin | December 19, 2009

Trial Court Finds Agency Attorney Had No Prohibited Conflict of Interest in Enforcement Proceeding

Property owners petitioned for Article 78 review of determination of Adirondack Park Agency’s enforcement committee, which held that rock structure installed on property constituted a prohibited structure. They alleged that bias was demonstrated by the Agency’s attorney (Van Cott) in his interpretation and application of regulatory provisions.  The Court ruled that there were no specific factual allegations or proof of bias and that the fact that Van Cott’s family members own a nearby property was not sufficient to demonstrate bias.  Also, Van Cott himself was not a litigant therefore cases which involved a transfer of venue to avoid any suspicion of bias does not apply.   Therefore, the Court held that the involvement of the Agency’s attorney  “in this enforcement proceeding did not constitute a conflict of interest arising from any personal bias. Specifically, there is no proof or allegation that VanCott’s participation in the administrative proceeding resulted in a decision which was premised upon such bias. A decision which is unfavorable to Petitioners may not, alone, substantiate claims of prejudice or bias.”

Harrington v. New York State Adirondack Park Agency, 876 N.Y.S.2d 605 (Supreme Court, Franklin Co. 2009).

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