Posted by: Patricia Salkin | March 14, 2020

NY Appellate Court Denies Motion to Enforce Prior Order Finding Settlement Agreement Over Denial by Architectural Review Board of Certificate of Approval was Not Enforceable

This post was authored by Matthew Loescher, Esq.

Petitioner Pittsford Canalside Properties, LLC (“PCP”) was the owner of property located in the Village of Pittsford on which it intended to construct a multiple dwelling building community. PCP commenced this CPLR article 78 proceeding seeking to annul the December 10, 2014 determination of respondent Village of Pittsford Architectural Preservation and Review Board (“APRB”) denying PCP’s application for a certificate of approval for the project and the August 17, 2015 determination of respondent Village of Pittsford Zoning Board of Appeals (“ZBA”) that also denied PCP’s application for a certificate of approval. PCP also sought enforcement of a resulting settlement agreement. In an order dated October 4, 2017, the Supreme Court found that the conditions and parameters as set forth in the April 4, 2017 letter were still viable and available to PCP subject to a public meeting before, and vote of, the APRB”, and “remanded” PCP’s application for a certificate of approval “back to the APRB for reconsideration pursuant to the mass and scale parameters set forth in the April 4, 2017 letter and completion of the certificate of approval process.”
On appeal, the court found that the trial court erred in concluding that PCP and APRB reached an enforceable settlement agreement on the issues of the mass and scale of the project and in remitting the matter to APRB with specific limitations on its further review. Specifically, it reasoned that “an agreement between parties or their attorneys relating to any matter in an action, other than one made between counsel in open court, is not binding upon a party unless it is in a writing subscribed by the party or his or her attorney or reduced to the form of an order and entered” Here, the letters that the court found to have memorialized the settlement agreement did not contain all the material terms of the settlement and was therefore insufficient.
In the absence of an enforceable settlement agreement, the court’s hearing on the issues of mass and scale, subsequent decision rendering findings of fact related to PCP’s new application for a certificate of approval, and remittal to APRB for consideration of that application – with specific directives regarding what APRB could and could not consider – were found to be impermissible intrusions into respondents’ administrative domain. The court therefore reversed the judgment, denied the motion to enforce the prior order in its entirety, and remitted the matter to Supreme Court.
Pittsford Canalside Properties, LLC v. Village of Pittsford Zoning Board of Appeals, 2020 WL 1225261 (NYAD 4 Dept. 3/13/2020)


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