Posted by: Patricia Salkin | September 22, 2019

NY Appellate Court Holds Trial Court Abused Its Discretion by Summarily Disposing Land Developer’s Cause of Action for Declaratory Judgment on Takings Claim

This post was authored by Matthew Loeser, Esq.

In 2014, petitioner Armand Gustave, LLC paid $12,000 to acquire a 6,000 square foot vacant lot in Manorville within the “core preservation area” of the Long Island Central Pine Barrens. Petitioner subsequently applied to the Central Pine Barrens Joint Planning & Policy Commission for an extraordinary hardship waiver exempting it from the restrictions on development in the core preservation area and permitting it to develop a single-family residence on the property and also to develop 5,333 square feet of a certain unopened road to provide access to the proposed dwelling. After a public hearing, the Commission denied the petitioner’s application. The petitioner subsequently commenced this CPLR article 78 proceeding to review the Commission’s determination and action for a judgment declaring that the Commission’s determination constituted an unconstitutional taking of the petitioner’s property without just compensation under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The Supreme Court denied the petition, and the petitioner appealed.

On appeal, the court first found that the Commission’s determination to deny petitioner’s application for an extraordinary hardship waiver had a rational basis and was not arbitrary and capricious. Specifically, the Commission found that the alleged hardship was not the result of any unique circumstances peculiar to the subject property, and that the alleged hardship was self-created. As such, the court agreed with the Supreme Court’s determination denying the petition and dismissing the proceeding.

Notwithstanding the aforementioned, the court disagreed with the Supreme Court’s determination to summarily dismiss the causes of action for a declaratory judgment and related relief since no party made such a request. The court therefore remitted the matter to the Supreme Court, Suffolk County, for further proceedings on those causes of action.

Armand Gustave, LLC v. Pavacic, 173 A.D.3d 1170 (NY 2 Dept. 2019)

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