Posted by: Patricia Salkin | February 7, 2019

NY Appellate Court Affirms Zoning Board Decision Allowing Weddings as an Accessory Use to a Bed and Breakfast

This post was authored by Amy Lavine, Esq.

A New York appellate court held in November 2018 that weddings were properly approved as an accessory use to a bed and breakfast located in a residential zoning district.

As the court recounted, the bed and breakfast had offered just one guest room when it was originally granted site plan approval in 1998, but since that time it had added two more rooms and began offering its facilities for wedding events. The property’s use as a wedding venue eventually grew to 12 events in 2015, with each event including tents, music, and food service, and the neighbors testified that each event caused several days of disruptions. As a result of this increased intensity, the zoning board determined in 2015 that site plan approval was required for wedding events to continue on the property as an accessory use. Following such a review, the bed and breakfast was granted permission to hold four wedding events per year with up to 75 guests and each event.

The court first found that it was neither unreasonable nor irrational for the zoning board to determine that the bed and breakfast was a permitted use. The property was located in the residential/rural-3A district, which permitted “tourist homes” and “boardinghouses,” and while the zoning code didn’t include a specific classification for “bed and breakfasts,” the zoning board had concluded that bed and breakfasts were commonly permitted in the residential/rural-3A district. The court also noted that bed and breakfasts were “certainly embraced” within the classifications for “tourist homes” and “boardinghouses,” even if they didn’t fall squarely within the definitions for these uses.

With respect to the challenged use of the property for wedding events, the court explained that accessory uses were defined in the town code as uses “customarily incidental and subordinate to the principal use of a lot… or a building, and located on the same lot… therewith.” The record showed that the owners of the bed and breakfast resided on the property and rented guestrooms on a year-round basis, but only offered the property as a wedding venue during warmer weather months. The court found that this evidence provided a sufficient basis for the zoning board’s determination that weddings were an allowable accessory use to the principal use of the property as an owner-occupied bed and breakfast.

The court also agreed with the zoning board that it had the authority to require site plan approval for the bed and breakfast’s accessory wedding use. As the court noted, the town code required site plan review for all principal uses, and this requirement “necessarily should attend to an approved accessory use.” The zoning board also had an obligation under the town code to impose “conditions and safeguards as may be required to protect the public health, safety, morals and general welfare,” and so it was reasonable to require a site plan, even if the bed and breakfast had originally been approved without conditions.

 

. Brophy v. Town of Olive Zoning Board of Appeals, 166 A.D.3d 1123 (NY App. Div. 3d Dept. 11/1/18).


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