Posted by: Patricia Salkin | July 10, 2013

NY Appellate Court Upholds Conditional Negative Declaration and Height Variance for Hotel That Incorporated Energy Efficiency

Following a conditional negative declaration under the State Environmental Quality Review Act, the zoning board granted an area variance to the applicant to allow for a 6 foot height variance to provide an aesthetically pleasing pitched roof that would also incorporate environmentally friendly conservation features and the planning board granted a conditional site plan approval for the proposed hotel.  An adjacent property owner, who operated a motel on the neighboring site, challenged all three actions.  The trial court dismissed the complaint and the property owner appealed.

The appellate court upheld the environmental review finding that the board did take the requisite hard look during a coordinated two year environmental review.  With respect to the variance, the court found that the board properly applied the statutory balancing test including reviewing various recommendations, studies and public input. Finding substantial evidence in the record to support the board’s determination, the court also noted that, “…the ZBA specifically referred to documentation in support of its conclusions that, among other things, the variance was not substantial when compared to nearby buildings, would improve the physical and environmental condition and character of the neighborhood, and was the minimum variance required to promote energy efficiency for both the applicant and the community.” As to the site plan approval challenge, the court determined that since the appellant raised for the first time in the appeal that the proposed project constituted a out-of-district user that would be ineligible to receive sanitary sewer service from the Village, the allegation was not preserved for review.

Schaller v Town of New Paltz Zoning Board of Appeals, 2013 WL 3332554 (N.Y.A.D. 3 Dept. 7/3/2013).

The opinion can be accessed at: http://decisions.courts.state.ny.us/ad3/Decisions/2013/515824.pdf


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