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When performing governmental functions, municipal agencies are immune from tort liability for negligence unless it is shown that there was a “special relationship” between the plaintiff and the agency at the time the claim accrued. The special relationship doctrine can arise in any number of situations involving a municipal actor, especially claims for personal injury. Interestingly, the doctrine was recently
Continue Reading Bow-wouch: A Word on Special Protections against Municipal Tort Liability

Last week’s election had news outlets across the State and nation talking about Long Island’s rare “red wave”.  While many are now debating what the apparent sea change means for Long Islanders, at least for the next few years, equal attention should also be paid to another important and far-reaching election result of a different color: New York’s “Green Amendment”.
Continue Reading Boon or Bane? New York’s Environmental Rights Amendment

A recent and alarming statistic shared by the Suffolk County Department of Health Services indicates that more than 80% of nitrogen found in Long Island’s surface waters is attributable to sewage. As if the idea of sewage constituents making their way into our lakes and bays isn’t concerning enough, the environmental impacts of nitrogen on water quality are as varied
Continue Reading New Standards for Nitrogen-Reducing Septic Systems in Suffolk County Starting July 1st

The Public Trust Doctrine holds that when a municipality acquires land for an expressly public purpose, it cannot later sell or otherwise alienate the use of that land for private use without the State Legislature’s approval (see e.g. 10 E. Realty, LLC v Inc. Vill. of Valley Stream, 17 AD3d 474, 476 [2d Dept 2005]). The Doctrine
Continue Reading Third Department Reaffirms That Private Ownership with Public Purpose Okay Under the Public Trust Doctrine

Absent local legislation to the contrary, town and village zoning boards act solely as appellate bodies authorized to hear and decide appeals taken from decisions by local zoning enforcement officials (ZEOs) (see Town Law § 267-A[4] [McKinney’s]; Village Law § 7-712-A[4] [McKinney’s]). The most common example of such appeals occurs when an applicant property-owner or developer applies to their local
Continue Reading Appellate Division Rejects Neighbor Attempt to Add Variances to Scope of Property Owner’s ZBA Application.

With all the recent snow Long Island has seen, and with more in the forecast, snow plows, sanders, and other emergency response vehicles have been a common sight. The time is right, therefore, for a quick word on the heightened burden plaintiffs face when suing a local government for auto accidents involving one of these vehicles while engaged in emergency
Continue Reading Snow Way They’re Paying for That: Limitations on Government Liability for Snow Plow Accidents

When commencing an action or proceeding challenging a land use approval, it is critical that the plaintiff/petitioner identify all parties having an interest in both the approval itself and the real property to which it pertains, and to consider which of those parties should be named. As in other areas of litigation, the potential penalty for failure to name a
Continue Reading “Know thy enemy”: The Importance of Identifying Proper Defendants in Land Use Litigation

The Covid-19 health crisis has sent widely-discussed shockwaves through the real estate industry that could have long-reaching impacts on the future of land use on Long Island. For starters, the pandemic shutdown hit the brick-and-mortar retail industry like a bomb. In addition to devastating small businesses everywhere, the pandemic forced under several long-struggling (and some not-so-struggling) retail giants. The pandemic
Continue Reading Is It Time? The Importance of Updating Town and Village Comprehensive Plans

The controversy in Matter of McGraw v Town Board of Town of Villenova (4th Dept Docket No CA 19-01362, Aug. 20, 2020) arose from the environmental review conducted on a proposed wind farm in upstate New York. The developer of the project sought a local code amendment and special permit from the Respondent Town Board for 29 wind turbines up
Continue Reading A Win for Wind Power: Court Affirms Decision to Forgo Supplemental SEQRA Review of 600-Foot Wind Turbines

On July 21, 2020, the Huntington Town Board adopted significant amendments to the Town’s zoning and site plan regulations for mixed-use buildings in the Town’s C-6 (General Commercial) Districts. The amendments, set forth in a series of resolutions (click here Huntington Zoning Amendments), are aimed at controlling the scale of future mixed-use buildings, reducing their burden on public infrastructure,
Continue Reading Town of Huntington Tightens Reins on Mixed-Use Buildings Amid Mixed Opinions