The Continuing Implications of Riverkeeper, Inc., 9 N.Y.3d 219 (2007)

Land Use

One of the most challenging aspects of the development approval process in New York is understanding and complying with the complex substantive and regulatory requirements of the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA). In the Riverkeeper case, the Court of Appeals stressed the deference courts must give to a planning board or other municipal agencies under the “hard look” standard. Riverkeeper, Inc. v. Planning Board of Town of Southeast, 9 N.Y.3d 219 (2007). SEQRA determinations ultimately rest with the lead agency. So long as the lead agency conducts a detailed review and takes the requisite “hard look” at the environmental concerns, the Court of Appeals made clear that lower courts should not substitute their judgment for the judgment of a lead agency. To this extent, the Court found that, “[t]he lead agency. . . has the responsibility to comb through reports, analyses and other documents before making a determination; it is not for a reviewing court to duplicate these efforts.” Id. Further, “[w]hile a lead agency is encouraged to consider the opinions of experts and other agencies, it must exercise its own judgment in determining whether a particular circumstance adversely impacts the environment.” Id. at 234 (emphasis added). Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by admin

Court Upholds Renewal and Extension of 20 Year Old Area Variance Approval

Land Use

Often, applicants are granted approvals for variances that are required in connection with a building project that never moves forward.  In such a situation, pursuant to the terms of the municipal code at issue, the approval will generally expire and the applicant will be required to file an application for a renewal of the variance if they wish to proceed with the project at a later date.  In Cohen v. Village of Irvington,2010 WL 4967899 (Sup. Ct. Westchester, Nov. 30, 2010), the Court was asked to decide whether the Board of Zoning Appeals of the Village of Irvington (“BZA”) could lawfully renew an area variance approval that expired over twenty years ago.   Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by John Christopher

Lapse of Time Does Not Extinguish an Offer of Dedication

Land Use, Municipal Law

Recently, in Underhill Ave. Corp. v Village of Croton-on-Hudson, 2011 NY Slip Op 01998 (2d Dept. 2011), the Appellate Division, Second Department, was asked to decide upon the validity of an offer of dedication that was over fifty years old.  The offer in question was a building lot that was dedicated to the Village of Croton-on-Hudson as a playground area pursuant to a condition of the original subdivision approval.  Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by John Christopher

Court Denies a Village the Right to Sue a Town to Challenge Certain Zoning and Environmental Determinations Made by the Town Board and the Town’s Planning Board

Land Use

The Supreme Court, Rockland County, has ruled that the Village of Pomona did not have standing to commence an Article 78 proceeding to annul certain determinations made by the Town Board of the Town of Ramapo and the Town’s Planning Board.  See, The Village of Pomona v. The Town of Ramapo, 2010 WL 4591430 (N.Y. Sup.).  Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by Michael Sahn


Land Use

The NYC Department of Buildings maintains a database of stalled construction sites within the City (see web link below), which is frequently updated. We note that the latest update from March 6, 2011, indicates that there are still nearly 700 stalled construction sites in New York City. However, despite the persistently sluggish real estate development market, the NYC Department of City Planning has recently completed and continues to pursue rezoning plans throughout the City, many of which reduce density (a/k/a “down-zoning”). This can pose certain problems for developers of sites located within a rezoning area or within an area that is proposed for rezoning, where developers have completed foundations prior to a zoning change, but the project has since stalled.
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Posted by Daniel Braff