Posted by: Patricia Salkin | December 30, 2013

NY Appellate Court Finds Local Law Addressing Corner Lots is Constitutional, In Accordance with Comprehensive Plan and Does Not Constitute Spot Zoning

The Village enacted Local Law 4–2009 which rezoned corner lots on four avenues in the Central Section of the Village from R–20, a residential zoning classification requiring a minimum lot size of 20,000 square feet, to R–20C, a residential zoning classification prohibiting subdivision unless the resulting corner lot has a minimum lot size of 40,000 square feet. The petitioners own a 62,500–square–foot corner lot and challenged facially the constitutionality of the local law, rather than challenging it as-applied. Although the trial court determined that the local law was unconstitutional, the appellate court disagreed, noting first that “legislative enactments are entitled to an ‘exceedingly strong presumption of constitutionality,’” and that zoning ordinances will only be struck down where they bear no substantial relation to the police power objective of promoting the public health, safety, morals or general welfare, or where it is inconsistent with the comprehensive plan.

The appellate court stated that the local law is consistent with the comprehensive plan as it is “reasonably related to the legitimate stated purpose of preserving larger corner lots on the larger boulevard-style streets within the Central Section of the Village.” The Court noted that land-use regulations may legitimately be enacted to enhance the quality of life by preserving the character and desirable aesthetic features of a municipality. Further, the Court found no evidence of spot zoning, funding that the “plaintiffs’ property was not arbitrarily singled out for different, less favorable treatment than neighboring properties in a manner that was inconsistent with a well-considered land-use plan.” In fact, 20 corner lots were impacted. The Court explained that, “a well-considered land-use plan can be shown by ‘evidence, from wherever derived,’ that serves to ‘establish a total planning strategy for rational allocation of land use, reflecting consideration of the needs of the community as a whole’ ensuring that the public good will not be undetermined by ‘special interest, irrational ad hocery.’” (citations omitted)

Nicholson v Incorporated Village of Garden City, 2013 WL 6801067 (NYAD 2 Dept. 12/26/2013).

The opinion can be accessed at: http://www.courts.state.ny.us/courts/ad2/calendar/webcal/decisions/2013/D40152.pdf


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