Photo of Philip A. Butler

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

For the last several years, municipal governments across Long Island, and beyond, have been taking action to control or outright ban short-term rentals in their communities. Inevitably, these efforts have met opposition from both entrepreneurial property owners and the home-sharing services that support them. Lawsuits challenging local regulation of short-term rentals have popped up across the country, and they often
Continue Reading Short-Term Rental Law Survives Regulatory Taking Claim

In the land use and zoning arena, discussion of article 78 proceedings is commonplace. They are, after all, the primary mechanism for challenging decisions on the full litany of land use applications (i.e. subdivisions, site plans, variances, special permits, etc.). An aggrieved party seeking to overturn a board’s decision is given a window of time in which to seek judicial
Continue Reading A Decision without Recourse? The Unique Hurdle When Pursuing Zone Changes and Zoning Amendments

When landowners oppose a project that involves the rezoning of a neighboring property, they almost always have the opportunity to air their grievances through a public hearing process. If the rezoning is approved over their objections, landowners can sometimes seek judicial review of the board’s decision through an Article 78 proceeding.[i] However, there is another tool available to landowners
Continue Reading Third Department Decides Novel Question of Law Relating to Zone Change Protest Petitions Under Town Law § 265

When determining whether a use is legally nonconforming for zoning purposes, the key consideration is whether the use was legal prior to the zoning restriction prohibiting it. A use cannot become legally nonconforming if it was not legal from the start, no matter how long it has existed. Consequently, the common assertion that something has “existed forever” or “always been
Continue Reading Second Department Reminds: a Use Cannot Be Legally Nonconforming If It Was Never Legal to Begin With

In SEQRA litigation, there is an oft-quoted proposition that the Lead Agency may not abdicate or defer its responsibilities under SEQRA to another agency. See Riverkeeper, Inc. v. Planning Bd. of Town of Se., 9 N.Y.3d 219, 234 (2007). To satisfy SEQRA’s requirements, the Lead Agency must conduct an independent study of the relevant areas of environmental concern and
Continue Reading When it Comes to SEQRA, Reasonable Agencies Are Allowed to Disagree

On December 5, 2019, the Village of Westbury Board of Trustees adopted legislation creating the Maple Union Transit-Oriented Development District (or “Maple Union TOD”). The sweeping new law eliminates the Village’s industrial zoning districts along the Long Island Railroad corridor and replaces them with seven mixed-use subdistricts serving as the foundation for a new downtown area consisting of medium-density residential
Continue Reading Big Changes in the Village of Westbury: Zoning Amendment Sows the Seeds for New Transit-Oriented Development

Residents of the Village of East Williston have prevailed (for now) over the East Williston Union Free School District’s plan to install a six-foot tall perimeter fence at the North Side School in the Village of East Williston, Nassau County. On October 4, 2019, Judge Sharon M.J. Gianelli handed down a Decision and Order (‘Decision”) enjoining the School District from
Continue Reading Supreme Court Reminds: Schools are Special, but Not Exempt When It Comes to Local Zoning

In Schmidt v. City of Buffalo Planning Bd., 174 A.D.3d 1413 (4th Dept., July 31, 2019), the petitioner, Terrence Robinson, filed suit to prevent the demolition of an architecturally significant apartment complex, claiming that the City Planning Board failed to comply with the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) when it adopted a negative declaration of environmental significance on
Continue Reading Fourth Department: Interest in Architecture and Historic Preservation Not Sufficient to Confer Standing Under SEQRA


Here’s one for the history buffs! A quiet feud between the State of New York and the Town of Oyster Bay over the Town’s underwater boundary has been resolved (for now) in Murphy v. Town of Oyster Bay, — N.Y.S.3d —-, 2019 WL 1646259 (N.Y.A.D. 2 Dept.), 2019 N.Y. Slip Op. 02887.

On January 1, 2010, the Plaintiff, Brian

Continue Reading Andros Patent Studied in Dispute Over Oyster Bay Boundary: This Clam Is Your Clam, This Clam Is My Clam