Posted by: Patricia Salkin | March 20, 2010

Commission Decision to Not Award Pine Barrens Credits to Property in Westhampton Reversed on Appeal

Residents of the Town of Southampton who owned a 52 acre tract of land in Westhampton that was in the Long Island Pine Barrens commenced an Article 78 proceeding seeking to annul the determination of the Central Pine Barrens Joint Planning and Policy Commission which denied their application for Pine Barrens credits.  The credit program was designed to maintain the value of lands designated for preservation.  The property at issue was located in the “core preservation area” of the Central Pine Barrens.  In January 2007, the Pine Barrens Credit Clearinghouse denied the application, but stated that it would reconsider if the property owners removed several buildings on the property and revegetated the premises.  The owners appealed to the Commission, which denied the appeal on several grounds.  The residents claimed in their Article 78 petition that the decision to deny the credits was arbitrary and capricious given that the Commission had issued credits to another tract of land owned by them in 2005.  In opposition, the Commission alleged that the premises was not entitled to credits because the value of the property was maintained.  The trial court dismissed the petition, holding that the property owners did not demonstrate that the Commission’s decision was arbitrary and capricious or an abuse of discretion given that the property had maintained its value.  On appeal, the Appellate Division partially reversed, holding that the value of the property had not been maintained and that credits could be allocated to the unimproved portions of the property.

Tuccio v. Central Pine Barrens Joint Planning Comm., 888 N.Y.S.2d 562 (2 Dept. 10/6/2009).

The opinion can be accessed at: http://pb.state.ny.us/legal/second_dept_07_21497_tuccio_20091104.pdf

This abstract is based on one that appeared in Environmental Law in New York (March 2010)


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