Posted by: Patricia Salkin | April 2, 2015

NY Appellate Court Finds Plaintiffs’ Challenges to the SEQRA and Rezoning Determinations Were Moot

In 2012, defendant PCP Watervliet, LLC, a subsidiary of defendant Nigro Companies, purchased a parcel of property containing a church, school and rectory that were no longer in use in the City of Watervliet  from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany County. Nigro petitioned the City Council to rezone the parcel from residential to commercial and following public hearings, the City issued a negative declaration and amended its zoning map as requested.  Individuals then brought this challenge alleging that the City failed to comply with SEQRA requirements, engaged in illegal spot zoning and violated the Open Meetings Law. This appeal arose from the order of the trial court which granted defendants’ motions for summary judgment dismissing the amended complaint.

As a preliminary matter, the court found that plaintiffs Carol Falaro and Patrick Falaro have presumptively established their standing to challenge the City’s determinations because their residence is located immediately across the street from Nigro’s parcel, and they will suffer direct harm different from the general public, even without allegations of individual harm.  The Court then held that the Plaintiffs’ challenges to the SEQRA and rezoning determinations were moot because they did not seek any injunctive relief from this Court during the pendency of this appeal, and the church buildings have been demolished and the grocery store is now fully constructed and operational. Furthermore, the rezoning determination had been superseded by the City’s September 2013 adoption of a new zoning code in which Nigro’s use of the parcel is permitted as a right, and plaintiffs did not raise any challenge to that code. Accordingly, the claim was dismissed as moot.

Citizens for St. Patrick’s v City of Watervliet, 2015 WL 1057857 (NYAD 3 Dept. 3/12/2015)

The opinion can be accessed at: http://decisions.courts.state.ny.us/ad3/Decisions/2015/519271.pdf


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