Posted by: Patricia Salkin | October 27, 2016

Fed. Dist. Court in NY Finds Claims Arising from Site Plan Application were not Ripe

Plaintiff Dolomite Products Company, Inc. claimed that the Defendant Town of Ballston used improper, discriminatory and unconstitutional means to thwart Plaintiff’s efforts to construct a hot mix asphalt plant in the Curtis Industrial Park (“CIP”) in the Town of Ballston, New York. Specifically, Plaintiff alleged that Defendants discriminated against Dolomite by: applying different standards to Dolomite’s project than to other projects proposed by similarly situated businesses; deliberately prolonging the processing of Dolomite’s site plan application before the Town of Ballston Planning Board; enacting an ordinance designed to delay, hinder and prevent Dolomite’s project, and then lying about the purpose of the ordinance; refusing, in bad faith, to process Dolomite’s site plan application; refusing to withdraw the ordinance, despite publically acknowledging its defects, and instead forcing Dolomite to litigate the issue in the Saratoga County Supreme Court; purposefully delaying processing the site plan after the Supreme Court struck down the ordinance; and by passing a new ordinance that repeated the same problems as the earlier one.

Plaintiff alleged that the Defendants opposed the construction of a business that was legal under the Town’s current zoning plan, and took a number of steps which violated local laws and rules in an attempt to prevent the construction of that project. As a result, Plaintiff was unable to build the project, and claimed damages therefrom. However, the court found that these allegations, even if accepted as true, indicated that the case was not ripe for disposition. The allegations in the Complaint indicated that Dolomite filed an application for a permit to construct an asphalt plant in the CIP, and all of Plaintiff’s alleged injuries flowed from the Town’s failure to approve the plan. Nothing in the Complaint, however, indicated that the Town Zoning Board, much less the Zoning Appeals Board, ever ruled on that application. Though Plaintiff offered voluminous allegations contending that Town Officials acted in bad faith, Plaintiff did not allege that the initial application had ever been withdrawn or rejected. Furthermore, the state-court decision that established a restraining order against an ordinance which Plaintiff cited as evidence of Defendants’ chicanery, specifically directed the Town to continue processing the application. Though Plaintiff asserted that it tried another tactic for approval of the project, which was rejected, nothing in the Complaint indicated that those efforts marked Plaintiff’s abandonment of the initial application or that an appeal of the initial denial had been completed. Accordingly, the court granted the motion as it pertained to ripeness.

Dolomite Products Company, Inc. v. Town of Ballston, 2016 WL 5394711 (ND NY 9/27/16)


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