Articles Posted in Zoning, Planning & Land Use

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The parties cross appeal the district court's grant in part and denial in part of a motion for a preliminary injunction to bar enforcement of three local laws restricting operations at a public airport located in and owned and operated by the Town of East Hampton, New York. The district court enjoined the enforcement of only one of the challenged laws—imposing a weekly flight limit—concluding that it reflected a likely unreasonable exercise of the Town’s reserved proprietary authority which is excepted from federal preemption by the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 (ADA), 49 U.S.C. 41713(b)(3). Plaintiffs contend that none of the challenged laws falls within the ADA’s proprietor exception to federal preemption because the Town failed to comply with the procedural requirements of the Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990 (ANCA), 49 U.S.C. 47521–47534, in enacting them. The court identified merit in plaintiffs’ ANCA argument and resolved these cross appeals on that basis without needing to address the Town’s proprietor exception challenge. The court concluded that plaintiffs (1) can invoke equity jurisdiction to enjoin enforcement of the challenged laws; and (2) are likely to succeed on their preemption claim because it appears undisputed that the Town enacted all three laws without complying with ANCA’s procedural requirements, which apply to public airport operators regardless of their federal funding status. The court affirmed the district court’s order insofar as it enjoins enforcement of the weekly flight‐limit law, but vacated the order insofar as it declines to enjoin enforcement of the other two challenged laws. Accordingly, the court remanded to the district court for the entry of a preliminary injunction as to all three laws and for further proceedings. View "Friends of The East Hampton Airport v. Town of East Hampton" on Justia Law

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Garden City appealed from a final judgment finding it liable for violations of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. 3601 et seq.; 42 U.S.C. 1981; 42 U.S.C. 1983; and the Equal Protection Clause. Plaintiffs cross-appealed from the 2012 grant of summary judgment by the same district court in favor of Nassau County. The court held that plaintiffs have Article III standing and plaintiffs' claims are also not moot; the district court did not commit clear error in finding that Garden City’s decision to abandon R‐M zoning in favor of R‐T zoning was made with discriminatory intent, and that defendants failed to demonstrate they would have made the same decision absent discriminatory considerations; the court affirmed the judgment insofar as it found plaintiffs had established liability under 42 U.S.C. 3604(a) of the FHA based on a theory of disparate treatment; the court held that 24 C.F.R. 100.500(c) abrogated the court's prior precedent as to the burden‐shifting framework of proving a disparate impact claim; the court vacated the judgment insofar as it found liability under a disparate impact theory, and remanded for further proceedings; the court held that the district court properly dismissed plaintiffs’ disparate treatment claims against Nassau County at the summary judgment stage because plaintiffs have not raised a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the County had legal responsibility for Garden City’s adoption of R‐T zoning; the court affirmed the dismissal of plaintiffs' disparate treatment claims against Nassau County at the summary judgment stage; and the court remanded with respect to plaintiffs' claims under Section 804(a) and Title VI relating to Nassau County’s “steering” of affordable housing. View "MHANY Mgmt., Inc. v. City of Nassau" on Justia Law

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Sunrise filed suit alleging intentional discrimination, disparate impact discrimination, and failure to grant a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq., after the commissioner determined that Sunrise's application for a special permit to establish a facility for individuals recovering for drug or alcohol addiction did not meet applicable zoning regulations. The court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the complaint based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction because the dispute was not ripe. In this case, Sunrise failed to pursue a variance or to appeal the commissioner's determination, and therefore, failed to obtain a final decision on the permit application. The court concluded that Sunrise's remaining arguments were without merit. View "Sunrise Detox v. City of White Plains" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit seeking equitable relief to prevent the Town from denying her the ability to build on a lot that she owns in the Town. The district court granted plaintiff an injunction following a bench trial. The Town appealed, arguing that plaintiff did not avail herself to state law proceedings to seek relief concerning her property's zoning status before she filed her municipal estoppel claim in federal court. The court concluded that plaintiff failed to exhaust her administrative remedies as required by state law and, therefore, the district court lacked jurisdiction over the case. The court vacated and remanded with instructions to dismiss the complaint. View "Holt v. Town of Stonington" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against the Town after a decade of dealing with the Town in plaintiff's efforts to apply for subdivision approval. The court reversed the district court's decision to dismiss plaintiff's federal takings claims, concluding that his claim became ripe because of the way the Town handled his application under Williamson County Regional Planning Commission v. Hamilton Bank of Johnson City where the Town employed a decade of unfair and repetitive procedures, which made seeking a final decision futile. The Town also unfairly manipulated the litigation of the case in a way that might have prevented plaintiff from ever bringing his takings claim. The court vacated the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's non-takings claims based on ripeness grounds and declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over his state law claims. The court affirmed the district court's decision to dismiss plaintiff's 42 U.S.C. 1981 claim, to deny plaintiff leave to amend to add a 42 U.S.C. 1982 claim, and to dismiss plaintiff's procedural due process claim based on the consultants' fee law. View "Sherman v. Town of Chester" on Justia Law

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The City amended it's zoning laws to prohibit the nonconforming use of non-owner-occupied multiple dwellings in various zoning districts. Plaintiffs alleged that the City's failure to notify them, as affected property owners, prior to enacting this zoning change violated their due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. The court affirmed the district court's conclusion that the change of zoning rules did not offend the procedural guarantees of the Due Process Clause because the zoning amendment was prospective and generally applicable, and was therefore "legislative" in character rather than "adjudicative." View "Edelhertz v. City of Middletown" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs are motorists who use the Grand Island Bridge but, because they are not residents of Grand Island, did not qualify for the lowest toll rate. Plaintiffs sought a judgment declaring that the toll discount policies violated the dormant Commerce Clause as well as the constitutional right to travel that courts have located in the Privileges and Immunities and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, both in violation of 42 U.S.C. 1983. On appeal, plaintiffs challenged the November 28, 2011 Memorandum Decision and Order of the district court, among other things, that granted judgment in favor of defendants. The court held that plaintiffs have standing under Article III, the toll policy at issue was a minor restriction on travel and did not involve "invidious distinctions" that would require strict scrutiny analysis pursuant to the Fourteenth Amendment; the district court correctly used, in the alternative, the three-part test set forth in Northwest Airlines, Inc. v. County of Kent, to evaluate both plaintiffs' right-to-travel and dormant Commerce Clause claims; and the Grand Island Bridge toll scheme was based on "some fair approximation of use" of the bridges; was not "excessive in relation to the benefits" it conferred; and did not "discriminate against interstate commerce." Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Selevan, et al. v. New York Thruway Authority, et al." on Justia Law

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This appeal concerned a longstanding land-use dispute between the Church and the Town over the Church's plan to build a worship facility and school on land that it owned within the Town. The Town appealed from the district court's holding that they violated the Church's rights under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), 42 U.S.C. 2000cc et seq., as well as the First Amendment, the Equal Protection Clause, and New York constitutional and statutory law. The court concluded that the Town's arguments on appeal were without merit and concluded that the district court correctly applied the law, discerning no clear error in its factual findings. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Fortress Bible Church v. Feiner" on Justia Law

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The Mission brought this interlocutory appeal from the district court's denial of immunity under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), 28 U.S.C. 1602-1611. At issue was whether the Mission could be sued for the damage to an adjoining property caused by its alleged failure to comply with the New York City Building Code, N.Y. City Admin. Code tit. 28, ch.1. The court rejected the Mission's argument that the immunity accorded to its decision to base its operations in a townhouse and to renovate the building for such use extended to the tort allegedly committed during its implementation of that decision. Although the Mission was not under an obligation to construct the chancery at any particular location, once it decided to do so it could not disregard the nondelegable duty of care imposed upon it by the city's Building Code. Accordingly, the court held that the obligation to protect the party wall was not discretionary and that the Mission could not avail itself of the protection of the FSIA's discretionary function exception. View "USAA Casualty Ins. Co. v. Permanent Mission Of The Republic of Namibia" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff brought this action against the Village Defendants alleging a violation of his constitutional rights as a result of the Zoning Board of Appeals' denial of his application for a certificate of occupancy (CO) for his newly-built home. Specifically, plaintiff asserted that the Village Zoning law, Chapter IX, Section E was void for vagueness and that the Village Defendants violated his substantive due process rights by denying him a CO. The court held that Section E was unconstitutionally vague as applied to plaintiff's property because it provided inadequate notice of the elevation point on River Road from which plaintiff should measure the height of his house to determine compliance, and because it authorized arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement. The court also held that the ordinance's constitutionality was not otherwise saved by its core meaning because a reasonable enforcement officer could find that the height of plaintiff's house was in compliance with Section E's restrictions. Therefore, the court reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the Village Defendants on plaintiff's void-for-vagueness claim and directed that court to enter summary judgment in favor of plaintiff on this claim. The court also vacated the grant of summary judgment in favor of the Village Defendants on plaintiff's substantive due process claim and remanded for further proceedings.