Recently Farrell Fritz, P.C. represented a family held limited liability company in connection with an application to a East End zoning board of appeals to maintain an eight (8) foot fence and six (6) foot driveway gates around its property in Sagaponack. See, 79 Parsonage LLC v. Zoning Board of Appeals of the Incorporated Village of Sagaponack. Both the fence and a portion of the applicant’s gates violated the Village of Sagaponack’s six (6) foot height limitation.
On behalf of the applicant, Farrell Fritz argued that a fence was necessary to exclude a family of deer that had taken up residence on the property. Exclusion of the deer was necessary as one member of the household had suffered through two bouts of Lyme’s Disease. In addition, the fence was constructed among mature vegetation and was not visible from the street.
Despite those and additional arguments offered at the hearing, the Sagaponack Zoning Board denied the application.
On behalf of the property owner, Farrell Fritz commenced an Article 78 proceeding in the New York State Supreme Court, Suffolk County, appealing the Zoning Board’s Decision.
On December 15, 2017, Justice Gerard W. Asher, J.S.C. overturned the Zoning Board’s denial and directed the Board to issue the requested variances finding that the applicant overcame the presumption afforded to Zoning Boards in deciding zoning cases. Through the Article 78, Farrell Fritz demonstrated that no evidence existed to support the Zoning Board’s decision; and its findings were conclusory, and therefore irrational and arbitrary and capricious. Judge Asher agreed with the application that the fence was hidden, and a grant would benefit the applicant because one of the two members already suffered from Lyme’s Disease. After making the findings, Judge Asher vacated and annulled the ZBA determination.
What Judge Asher makes clear in his Decision, and should be considered by all practitioners, is that zoning boards must balance all of the relevant considerations in a rational way.