Posted by: Patricia Salkin | April 5, 2013

NY Appellate Court Finds Claim of Lack of Consistency Time-Barred but Site Plan Review Challenge was not Barred

The Maddalonis’ own residential property in the Village of Head of the Harbor (“Village”) adjacent to Stony Brook Harbor. In 2007, they submitted a site plan application seeking to demolish the existing residence and construct a new single-family residence with a pool and pool house. As per the Village Code, the site plan was reviewed by the Joint Village Coastal Management Commission (“JCC”) to ensure the plan was consistent with the Village’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (“LWRP”). Acting in an advisory capacity, the JCC found that the site plan was inconsistent with the LWRP. The Village Planning Board, however, disagreed, and the matter was referred to the Village Board of Trustees for a final determination. The Trustees adopted a resolution determining that the site plan was consistent with the LWRP.

On January 11, 2011, the Board held a public hearing on the Maddalonis’ site plan, and the Board then granted approval. Two months later, several neighbors, some who live adjacent to or across the street from the Maddalonis’ property and some who lived one half mile away, commenced an action to review the Board’s grant of approval. The neighbors alleged that the approval was arbitrary and capricious because the site plan violated setback and vegetation-clearing requirements. Also, they challenged the finding that the plan was consistent with the LWRP. Lastly, they argued that the Maddalonis’ would not be entitled to any variances from the setback requirements and clearing limitations purportedly necessary for the construction project. The Village agencies, comprising the Village, the Planning Board, and the Zoning Board of Appeals, plus the Maddalonis’, moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of standing, and the motions were granted. The neighbors subsequently appealed.

The Appellate Division, Second Department, affirmed in part and reversed in part. As for the consistency with the LWRP claim, the Appellate Division held that the Supreme Court had correctly dismissed the claim as time-barred by the applicable four month statute of limitations period. Secondly, the claim arguing that the Maddalonis’ were not entitled to be granted variances was correctly dismissed as unripe. As the Maddalonis’ had not made an application for variances and a final resolution had not been made, the claim was unripe for determination.

However, the Supreme Court improperly granted that branch of the separate motions which was to dismiss, as time-barred, the second cause of action, which sought review of the Planning Board’s determination to grant site plan approval.  Two weeks after the January 11th meeting, the Board sent a letter to the Maddalonis’ merely informing them that a decision had been reached, though not stating the actual outcome. Thereafter, the Board never submitted a document that could be construed as the Planning Board’s decision itself. The only document, therefore, that could constitute the Board’s decision would be the minutes from the January 11th meeting, but there was no indication in the record of when, or if, the minutes were filed with the Village Clerk. Because of this missing information, the 30-day statute of limitations period did not begin to run before this case was initiation. Accordingly, the case was remanded to the Supreme Court for a determination on the merits of this cause of action.

Matter of Shepherd v Maddaloni, 103 A.D.3d 901, 2013 WL 692818 (N.Y.A.D. 2 Dept 3/1/2013.)

The opinion can be accessed at: http://www.newyorklawjournal.com/CaseDecisionNY.jsp?id=1202590545212&slreturn=20130415104513


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