Posted by: Patricia Salkin | December 13, 2016

Second Circuit Court of Appeals Affirms Denial of Equal Protection Claim in Ongoing Dispute

Nearly two years after 26 Seminary LLC purchased the subject property, the Binghamton City Council adopted Ordinance 009-009, which amended certain sections of Chapter 410 of the Zoning Ordinance of the City of Binghamton to require the provision of increased off-street parking, including in residential areas of the city. This requirement would be triggered when a building owner sought to modify the use of an existing structure on the property. Soon after the new ordinance was adopted, 26 Seminary LLC sought to renovate and modify the use of certain parts of the structure on its property. The City of Binghamton’s Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals (“ZBA”) denied 26 Seminary LLC’s application for a variance. 26 Seminary LLC pointed to this denial as a basis for its non-class-based equal protection claim. In this case, Plaintiffs-Appellants appealed from the judgment of the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York, which granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants-Appellees on all of Plaintiffs-Appellants’ outstanding claims.

The court found that 26 Seminary LLC was unable to point to any comparable property to provide a basis for establishing its equal protection claim. Here, the two properties pointed to as comparators, 63 Front Street and 46 Seminary Avenue, differed from 26 Seminary Avenue. The 46 Seminary Avenue site involved conversion from one commercial use to another, while the 63 Front Street site had an entirely different classification for zoning purposes than the 26 Seminary LLC’s property. Furthermore, unlike the subject property, both of these sites afforded some off-street parking accommodation as a component of their proposed site plans. Since 26 Seminary LLC failed to point to any substantially comparable instance of the City of Binghamton’s application of its zoning law with respect to the very issue that was the focus of its equal protection claim, the court held that summary judgment in favor of the City was appropriate.

33 Seminary LLC v. The City of Binghamton, 2016 WL 6917227 (2nd Cir. CA 11/23/2016)


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