State Environmental Quality Review Act

Last year, the New York County Supreme Court heard an Article 78 challenge by Preserve Our Brooklyn Neighborhoods (“POBN”), a civic organization dedicated to maintaining the unique character and historical significance of the Fort Greene area of Brooklyn, New York.  This lawsuit, which I discussed in a previous post, turned on whether a resolution passed by the New
Continue Reading First Department Affirms Dismissal of Constitutional Challenge to Zoning Resolution

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

View of Hudson River from Upper Nyack, New YorkPetitioner, Claude Simon (“Petitioner”), owns approximately 2.25 acres of property in the Village of Upper Nyack (the “Village”), which he sought to subdivide into two separate lots.  The first lot would contain the existing dwelling and other existing improvements.  The vacant second lot would be improved with a single-family dwelling.  However, the Village advised Petitioner that he would need to
Continue Reading Second Department Affirms Article 78 Reversal of Village Zoning Board Determination

How and when to challenge multiple municipal actions regarding a single project often perplexes Article 78 litigants. Varying statutes of limitations may apply to actions taken at various stages for one project, and the judicial concepts of finality and ripeness affect the viability of a challenge. For example, a litigant must challenge a lead agency’s determination pursuant to the State
Continue Reading How and When to Challenge SEQRA Determinations: Addressing Ripeness and Finality in Article 78 Cases

A recent Second Department decision, Matter of Village of Kiryas Joel v County of Orange, et al., addresses the intriguing justiciability doctrine of ripeness, as applied to judicial review of municipal administrative action.

In 2007, Orange County (the “County”) acquired property known as Camp LaGuardia from the New York City Economic Development Corporation.  Originally, the County’s plan was to
Continue Reading Second Department Reverses Dismissal of Article 78 Proceeding on Ripeness Grounds

The City of New Rochelle adopted an ordinance in 2017, amending the zoning code to apply a senior citizen overlay district to certain real property comprised of approximately 3.4 acres at 121 Mill Road in New Rochelle.  The City adopted a negative declaration pursuant to the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act for the amendment. The zoning code amendment
Continue Reading Second Department Affirms Dismissal of Article 78 Proceeding for Lack of Standing

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

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

Historic Brownstone Houses in Residential Neighborhood of Fort Greene in Brooklyn

A recent Supreme Court decision, In the Matter of Preserve Our Brooklyn Neighborhoods v. City of New York, demonstrates the difficulty a litigant faces when challenging a zoning determination on constitutional grounds.  The petitioners are “an incorporated association of community members” from the Fort Greene area of Brooklyn (the “Petitioners”), who oppose proposed development in their community in the
Continue Reading Constitutional Challenges to Zoning Subject to Very High Standard

A recent decision from the Supreme Court of Warren County, John Carr v. Village of Lake George Village Board, demonstrates how a simple omission on a site plan approval application can upend an approved project, even though the municipality wants the project and enacted a local law to smooth the pathway for its approval.

James Quirk (Quirk) owns property
Continue Reading Applicant’s Failure To Include Information About The Whole Project On The Site Plan Ends Up In Remand To Planning Board