Posted by: Patricia Salkin | December 1, 2018

NY Appellate Court Affirms Dismissal of a Challenge to Conditions Imposed on a Site Plan for Church

This post was authored by Matthew Loeser, Esq.

Rock of Salvation Church, located at 131 Cortlandt Street, purchased the adjoining property, located at 135 Cortlandt Street, in July 2012. The premises located at 135 Cortlandt Street, and the premises located at 139 Cortlandt Street, formerly had a common ownership. In July 1998, while the parcels were still under common ownership, the Village approved a site plan for 139 Cortlandt Street. The 1998 site plan reflected use of a common driveway, certain shared parking spaces, and contemplated certain shared drainage facilities. Additionally, the former owners signed a Declaration of Easement dedicating five parking spaces on 135 Cortlandt Street to benefit the tenants and/or occupants of 139 Cortlandt Street, and an easement over 135 Cortlandt Street.

In June 2013, the church submitted an application to the Village’s Planning Board for site plan approval of an off-street parking lot to be located at 131 and 135 Cortlandt Street to provide parking to its parishioners. After public hearings, the Planning Board granted the application with certain conditions, including that the church remove the planned implementation of a vehicular gate for the parking lot, and that the church record an access and drainage easement upon 135 Cortlandt Street for the benefit of 139 Cortlandt Street, “consistent with historical uses and practices.” The petitioners commenced this proceeding pursuant to Article 78 to review the determination. The Supreme Court denied the petition and dismissed the proceeding.

The court first noted that the Planning Board had the authority, pursuant to Village of Sleepy Hollow Code § 450–68(A), to impose such reasonable conditions and restrictions as were directly related to and incidental to a proposed site plan. As such, the Planning Board could consider criteria such as whether the proposed project was consistent with the use of surrounding properties, whether it would bring about a noticeable change in the visual character of the area, and whether the change would be irreversible. As the record reflected that the Planning Board’s approval of the church’s application, subject to the conditions at issue herein, had a rational basis, was not illegal, and was not arbitrary and capricious, the court affirmed the Supreme Court’s determination.

Rock Salvation Church v Village of Sleepy Hollow Planning Board, 2018 WL 6187124 (NYAD 2 Dept. 11/28/2018)

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