Posted by: Patricia Salkin | October 4, 2019

NY Appellate Court Holds Planning Board’s Determination to Approve Site Plan was Supported by Substantial Evidence and Has a Rational Basis

This post was authored by Matthew Loeser, Esq.

Petitioners appealed from a judgment that granted the motion of the Heckl respondents to dismiss the petition against them and granted the motion of the ZBA and Planning Board for summary judgment dismissing the petition against them, thereby dismissing the petition in its entirety. The project in question involved demolishing a residence and garage behind a former church building in a residential neighborhood and constructing a three-story building that would house an art gallery on the first floor and eight apartments on the second and third floors. The Heckl respondents previously obtained approvals to renovate the former church building for use as a visual and performing arts center.

The court noted at the outset that the petition was not filed until months after the 30–day limitations period set forth in General City Law § 81–c (1) had expired. As such, the court declined to consider petitioners’ contention regarding the ZBA’s alleged noncompliance with SEQRA. Even assuming, that petitioners’ substantive contentions with respect to the variances granted by the ZBA were timely, however, the court found the ZBA properly took into account the relevant factors set forth in General City Law § 81–b (3) and (4) and made detailed findings with respect to those factors. Accordingly, the court conclude that its determination to grant the variances was not illegal, arbitrary, or an abuse of discretion.

Lastly, contrary to petitioners’ contention, the court held that the Planning Board’s determination to issue a negative declaration pursuant to SEQRA was not in violation of lawful procedure, affected by an error of law, arbitrary and capricious, or an abuse of discretion. Additionally, the court held the Planning Board’s determination to approve the site plan was supported by substantial evidence and has a rational basis.

Campaign for Buffalo History Architecture & Culture, Inc. v Zoning Board of Appeals of the City of Buffalo, 2019 WL 2896742 (NYAD 4 Dept. 7/5/2019)


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