Posted by: Patricia Salkin | April 23, 2016

NY Appellate Court Reverses Grant of Summary Judgment Finding Village Comprehensive Plan and Portions of the Zoning Amendments Void and Unenforceable

Petitioners/plaintiffs commenced a proceeding to review resolutions adopting the Comprehensive Plan for the Village of Woodbury and Local Law Nos. 3 and 4 of 2011 of the Village of Woodbury (hereinafter “the Zoning Amendments”), and for a judgment declaring that the Comprehensive Plan and the Zoning Amendments were void and unenforceable. Specifically, the petition/complaint alleged that the Comprehensive Plan and the Zoning Amendments were void and unenforceable on the ground that the Village of Woodbury Board of Trustees failed to strictly comply with the procedural and substantive mandates of the State Environmental Quality Review Act, and on the ground that the Board of Trustees failed to comply with General Municipal Law § 239–m. The petition/complaint also alleged, in the fourth cause of action, that the Comprehensive Plan and the Zoning Amendments amounted to unconstitutional exclusionary zoning, and sought a judgment declaring that the Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Amendments are void and unenforceable. The respondents/defendants Village of Woodbury, New York, the Village of Woodbury Board of Trustees, the Village of Woodbury Planning Board, and Gary Thomasberger moved to dismiss the fourth cause of action. The Supreme Court dismissed the fourth cause of action and awarded summary judgment to the petitioners/plaintiffs on the fourth cause of action. The court also granted the petition to annul the Comprehensive Plan and the Zoning Amendments.

The court first noted that 6 NYCRR 617.6(a)(4) permits an agency to waive the requirement for an environmental assessment form (hereinafter EAF) if a draft environmental impact statement is prepared or submitted. Because a draft environmental impact statement was prepared in this case, the failure to prepare an EAF did not amount to a failure to literally comply with SEQRA’s procedural requirements. Furthermore, the Board of Trustees satisfied SEQRA’s substantive requirements by analyzing a reasonable range of alternatives. Accordingly, the court found that the Supreme Court should have denied the petition to annul the Comprehensive Plan and the Zoning Amendments on the ground that the Board of Trustees failed to strictly comply with the procedural requirements of SEQRA.

As to the Board of Trustees’ alleged failure to comply with General Municipal Law § 239–m, the court found that no record evidence contradicted the Village Planner’s assertion that the report of final action was submitted following enactment of the Comprehensive Plan and the Zoning Amendments. Additionally, the revisions made to the Comprehensive Plan and the Zoning Amendments after referral were “embraced within the original referral.” The court therefore found that the Supreme Court should have denied the petition/complaint to annul the Comprehensive Plan and the Zoning Amendments on the ground that the Board of Trustees failed to comply with General Municipal Law § 239–m.

Lastly, the court found triable issues of fact existed as to whether the Comprehensive Plan and the Zoning Amendments amounted to unconstitutional exclusionary zoning. Thus, the Supreme Court properly denied the appellants’ motion for summary judgment dismissing the fourth cause of action, but erred in searching the record and awarding summary judgment to the petitioners/plaintiffs on this cause of action.

Kiryas Joel v. Village of Woodbury, 2016 WL 1576897 (NYAD 2 Dept. 4/20/2016)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: