Posted by: Patricia Salkin | February 15, 2020

NY Appellate Court Holds Board’s Denial of Landowner’s Area Variance Lacked a Rational Basis

This post was authored by Matthew Loescher, Esq.


Petitioner purchased property in the City of Ithaca, Tompkins County, which consisted of a lot and house that had a preexisting side yard deficiency. Petitioner applied to subdivide the lot and create two lots; the existing house would be part of one lot and petitioner intended to construct a multifamily dwelling on the other lot. Since petitioner’s proposal required an area variance due to the side yard deficiency, petitioner submitted an application for an area variance to respondent. Following public hearings, respondent denied the application. Petitioner thereafter commenced this CPLR article 78 proceeding challenging respondent’s determination. The Supreme Court of New York granted the petition, and respondent appealed.


The record reflected that Respondent’s findings demonstrated that an environmental review of the proposed project concluded that there would be no significant impacts to aesthetic or historic resources, the air, land, drainage or open space area. Furthermore, petitioner’s proposed use of the property was a permitted use in the neighborhood. The findings also indicated that the City of Ithaca Planning Board was merely “unsure” whether the requested variance was consistent with the neighborhood and that it was “conflicted” about petitioner’s appeal. Because the views of the community in opposition to petitioner’s request by themselves were insufficient to deny a variance, the court held respondent’s determination lacked a rational basis.


209 Hudson Street, LLC v. City of Ithaca Board of Zoning Appeals, 182 A.D.3d 851( 3 Dept 2020)



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