In the Matter of Parsome, LLC v. Zoning Board of Appeals of the Village of East Hampton, decided February 10, 2021, the petitioner appealed the denial of an Article 78 Petition by the Supreme Court, Suffolk County. The Appellate Division, Second Department, upheld the Supreme Court’s determination. Specifically, petitioner purchased property in the manufacturing zoning district in the Village of East Hampton in 2004. The property was improved with a 6,600 square foot commercial building and a parking lot with 23 parking spaces. At the time the building was constructed in 1988, it complied with the parking requirements. In 1995 the Village increased the parking requirements affecting the property changing it from requiring 1 space per every 300 square foot of building floor space to 1 space for every 200 square foot of building floor space as well as 2 spaces for every unit within a building. If the use of a building was “intensified” pursuant to East Hampton Village Code §278-6(A), then the building had to be brought up to current parking standards under the code.

In 2016, the Village notified the property owner that it was in violation of the parking regulations since the building had six office units but was only permitted to have four according to the certificate of occupancy for the site. In response, petitioner applied to the Zoning Board of Appeals (“ZBA”) to retain the additional two offices without having to increase its parking. The Zoning Board of Appeals determined that the creation of additional office units constituted an intensification of its use, and concluded that the property owner needed an additional 20 parking spaces in order to comply with the current code. As a result, the ZBA found that the requested variance was substantial and further found that the building experienced parking shortages (along with the zoning district having parking shortages), had no access to public parking and the parking shortage created a detriment to neighborhood. Based on the foregoing, the ZBA denied the application.

The applicant brought an Article 78 Petition against the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Supreme Court, noting the broad discretion that local zoning boards enjoy, denied the petition and dismissed the proceeding. Petitioner appealed the Supreme Courts determination to the Appellate Division, Second Department.

The Appellate Division noted that a “zoning board’s interpretation of its zoning ordinance is entitled to great deference and will not be overturned be the courts unless unreasonable and irrational.” The Court found that the ZBA’s interpretation of the code that the addition of two office uses to the building constituted an intensification and as such the building had to comply with the updated parking requirements was reasonable. The Court also found that the ZBA property rejected petitioner’s argument that it was only required to comply with the code section adding two additional parking spaces per unit. Ultimately the ZBA correctly found that the building required 43 parking spaces and thus the variance sought to waive 20 parking spaces was substantial. Moreover the Court held that the ZBA’s conclusion that the variance would add to parking problems at the building was legitimate and had a rational basis. Finally, the Court noted that petitioner was presumed to have known about the applicable zoning regulations when it purchased the property rendering any hardship self-created.

Accordingly, the Court held the Supreme Court properly denied the petition and dismissed the proceeding.