Establishing, Maintaining and Expanding Nonconforming Uses

Land Use

Zoning ordinances are enacted with the intent to create a compatibility of uses within specific geographic areas of a municipality. However, there are certain uses that disrupt the balance that the ordinances are enacted to create. These are known as nonconforming uses. A non-conforming use is “[a] use of property that is no longer authorized due to rezoning, but lawfully existed prior to the enactment of the existing zoning ordinance …”1 “Due to constitutional and fairness concerns regarding the undue financial hardship that immediate elimination of nonconforming uses would cause to property owners…courts and municipal legislators have adopted a grudging tolerance of such uses.”2 As a result, nonconforming uses are “permitted to continue, notwithstanding the contrary provisions of the ordinance.”3 Nevertheless, the overriding public policy of zoning is to reasonably restrict and eventually eliminate these types of uses.4

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by John Farrell

Legislature Responds to Foreclosure Issues

Land Use

The foreclosure crises of the last several years imposed a significant burden on the court system in New York. From 2005 to 2010, the number of foreclosure filings increased from 22,601 to 50,827. In Nassau County alone they increased from 1,310 to 5,378.1

Both the courts and the New York State Legislature have responded with various measures.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by Thomas McKevitt

Navigating Unchartered Waters in Land Use Development

Land Use

Proceeding in the Wake of the Supreme Court’s Ruling in Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District

Highly publicized, recent decisions by the United States Supreme Court have dealt with a variety of social policy issues such as health care reform, marriage and civil rights. The Court’s decision in Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District (“Koontz”) has received much less public attention. Yet, Koontz has wide sweeping consequences for land owners, developers and local municipalities involved in the review and approval of applications for land-use permits. In fact, it has been feared that the decision will “work a revolution in land-use law”1 by depriving local governments of the ability to charge reasonable permit fees.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by Michael Sahn

Fire Island to Montauk Point project

Land Use

 

Recent media reports have focused on the $700 million Fire Island to Montauk Point project, which is a federal plan to protect Long Island from hurricanes and nor’easters.  Under the plan, more than 4,000 homes in the 2-, 6- and 10- year flood plains would be elevated, new dunes would be created, old dunes would be reconstructed, and vulnerable roads would be elevated and turned into dikes.   While this plan has existed for some time, it has gained significant traction post-Sandy, and is presently being fine-tuned by the US Army Corps of Engineers.  Governor Cuomo, the National Park Service and Suffolk County generally support the plan, and Fire Island property owners are generally in favor of the plan. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by Daniel Braff