Posted by: Patricia Salkin | April 1, 2016

NY Appellate Court Says Town’s Motion for Injunction to Permanent Enjoinment of Defendants’ Use of Property for the Composting and Processing of Mulch Should Have Been Denied

Defendant MMCCAS Holdings, Inc., owner of three contiguous parcels of real property located in the Town of Brookhaven, had a small portion of its property situated within a J–2 Business Zoning District and the remainder situated in an A–1 Residential Zoning District. The property was used for a composting and mulch-processing operation. The Town of Brookhaven commenced this action to permanently enjoin the defendants from conducting the composting and mulch-processing operation on the property. The Town then moved for a preliminary injunction to that effect, contending that this use was unlawful under the zoning ordinance. In opposition, MMCCAS and the defendants Jetson Enterprises, Inc., and Green Vision Materials, Inc., argued that their operation constituted a lawful nonconforming, preexisting use of the subject premises. The Supreme Court denied the motion.

At the outset, the court noted it was improper for the lower court to deny the Town’s motion on the grounds that the Town was collaterally estopped from seeking a preliminary injunction by the denial of a motion for that relief in a prior, related action. This was because the defendants, in opposition to the Town’s motion, did not make that argument or include the prior order and motion papers as exhibits to their opposition papers. Nevertheless, although the Town ultimately might be successful in this action, it failed to demonstrate that the balance of the equities weighed in its favor. Thus, while the harm to the defendants if the injunction was granted would prove substantially burdensome and likely irreversible, the harm to the Town should the injunction be denied was more remote and uncertain. Furthermore, the court found that the granting the injunction would disturb the status quo, rather than maintain it. Accordingly, the court held that the Town’s motion for a preliminary injunction should have been denied on the merits.

Town of Brookhaven v MMCCAS Holdings, Inc., 2016 WL 1230607 (NYAD 2 Dept. 3/30/2016)

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