Let’s Make Hurricane Sandy the Catalyst for Change so we don’t Suffer the Same Catastrophic Damage Again

Land Use

 

We cannot change what happened with Hurricane Sandy.  But, we can use Hurricane Sandy as the catalyst for change so we do not suffer the same catastrophic damage again from the next storm.

We need to put an action plan in place now on Long Island, and the entire metropolitan region, so we do everything possible to protect our population, communities and businesses in the future.

Here are some ideas to consider in terms of land use, municipal and environmental planning: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by Michael Sahn

CPC Approves Modifications to Parking Requirements in Downtown Brooklyn

Land Use

 

On October 17th, the City Planning Commission (“CPC”) approved a zoning text amendment that modifies the parking requirements for portions of the Special Downtown Brooklyn District (“SDBD”), in Brooklyn Community District 2.  According to the CPC report, “The proposed amendment to the SDBD regulations would reduce parking requirements for new residential development from 40% of units to 20% of units to better reflect actual parking demand in Downtown Brooklyn; remove parking requirements for affordable housing units; and provide additional opportunities for public parking.” Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by Daniel Braff

Appellate Division Upholds Zoning Board Decision Made Without Factual Findings

Land Use

 

The Appellate Division has upheld a Zoning Board’s denial of a petitioner’s application for an area variance even though the board did not provide any factual findings for its denial. Jonas v. Stackler, 95 A.D.3d 1325 (2nd Dep’t 2012). This case is noteworthy because the Court held that a review of the entire record before the Board provided a sufficient basis for determining whether the denial was arbitrary and capricious. Even though the Board failed to provide any factual findings for its denial, the Court held that the record compiled by the Board contained enough evidence to support its denial, and found that its decision was not arbitrary and capricious. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by Michael Sahn

adAPT NYC

Land Use

 

adAPT NYC is a New York City HPD initiative that seeks proposals for the design, construction and operation of a new rental building composed primarily (at least 75%), or completely of “micro-units,” at 335 East 27th Street in the Kips Bay neighborhood of Manhattan.  This competition seeks to find creative designs to meet the needs of the City’s evolving population. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by Daniel Braff

BEYOND SMART GROWTH: NEW URBANISM

Land Use

 

The term “Smart Growth” has become common parlance in the world of land use planning and zoning.  There is no one definition of “Smart Growth”.  The term is used frequently and in various contexts.  Nonetheless, generally speaking, Smart Growth is associated with the establishment of pedestrian-friendly communities that encourage residents and neighbors to shop and to interact in a community with mixed-use development.  Advocates of “Smart Growth” argue that the suburbs built after World War II, which depended on access to highways and brought about the reliance on automobiles to commute to and from a city or metropolitan area for work, are no longer sustainable.  The argument is that Smart Growth is sustainable growth because it does not depend on highways and roadways to sustain a standard of living, the economy and for employment.

In a series of articles and reports issued by the Institute for Social Research at The University of Michigan examining the future of suburban communities, Smart Growth is taken a step further.  See “Negative Environmental Impacts of American Suburban Sprawl and the Environmental Argument for New Urbanism”, 2002, by Anna Islam, Brandon Lynn, and Bridget Maher, at http://sitemaker.umich.edu/section007group5/home.  It is incorporated into a new development concept for the sprawling suburbs called “New Urbanism”.  “New Urbanism” is described as the kind of growth that focuses on mixed land use development and zoning, pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods, efficient use of natural resources, limited automobile dependency, preservation of open spaces and reinvestment in existing communities, referred to as “In-Fill” development.  Smart Growth principles are a necessary component of New Urbanism.  Moreover, New Urbanism is described as looking to the past for inspiration and taking 18th and 19th Century American and European towns as models for modern consideration in order to reshape communities and avoid suburban sprawl.

These concepts will certainly provide the basis for debate as suburban communities around the New York metropolitan area examine their zoning and land use development plans.  The need to create affordable housing opportunities, lower real estate tax burdens on existing homeowners and commercial owners, recycle properties now in foreclosure and sustain new commercial development and job creation, will surely lead to a discussion of the proper land use patterns and policies to achieve sustainable communities in the years ahead.  Creative legal solutions to deal with these issues must be mutually examined by developers and municipalities in order to best serve the public interest.  For land use attorneys, beyond the nuts and bolts of every day practice, these issues demand our focus and creative thinking.

** Land use policy and zoning law will always be one of the priority issues for municipal government on Long Island, and in the metropolitan New York area.  As part of the continuing debate over the appropriate scope of land use regulation, and in response to our blog “Beyond Smart Growth: New Urbanism,” we are pleased offer the perspective and comments of Clifford Sondock, President of the Land Use Institute, based in Jericho, New York. When you open this post, Mr. Sondock’s comments will be posted below:

Posted by Michael Sahn

Objecting Neighbor Failed To Preserve Its Rights – Petition Dismissed As Academic

Land Use

A recent decision of the Appellate Division highlights the importance of seeking injunctive relief to maintain the status quo and safeguard a party’s interests during the pendency of litigation.  The result of failing to do so can be the forfeiture of a party’s right to seek relief before the Court.  Matter of Papert v. Zoning Bd. of Appeals of the Inc. Vil. of Quogue, 2012 NY Slip. Op. 05925. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by John Christopher

Reaffirmation of Spot Zoning Standards

Land Use

“The power to zone is derived from the Legislature and must be exercised in the case of towns and villages in accord with a ‘comprehensive plan’  (see, Town Law § 263Village Law § 7–704) or in the case of cities in accord with a ‘well considered plan’ (General City Law § 20 [25] ).”  Asian Americans for Equality v. Koch, 72 N.Y.2d 121, 131 (1988).  This requirement “not only insures that local authorities act for the benefit of the community as a whole but protects individuals from arbitrary restrictions on the use of their land.”  Id.  When a municipality fails to follow this requirement, the Court can invalidate a rezoning as illegal “spot zoning”.  The Court defines spot zoning as “the process of singling out a small parcel of land for a use classification totally different from that of the surrounding area, for the benefit of the owner of such property and to the detriment of other owners [citations omitted], ‘spot zoning‘ is the very antithesis of planned zoning.”  Rodgers v. Village of Tarrytown, 302 N.Y. 115, 123 -124 (1951).  When a litigant seeks to challenge a rezoning through litigation, a common allegation is that the rezoning constituted illegal spot zoning.  Thus, many decisions have been written on this subject and the law is well established.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by John Christopher

NYC Department of City Planning Announces BluePRint

Land Use

 

The NYC Department of City Planning (“DCP”) has announced that it is overhauling the pre-certification review process before a land use project enters ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure).  The Business Process Reform (called BluePRint) will simplify and speed up the City’s pre-certification process, and add predictability.  According to a press release by DCP, “When BluePRint is fully implemented, DCP will be able to review the majority of all applications up to 50 percent faster than today, saving applicants time and money, and getting projects built and onto the city tax rolls sooner.” Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by Daniel Braff

NYU Core Proposal Approved by CPC

Land Use

 

The NYU Core proposal (a/k/a NYU 2031), which was the subject of a prior blog entry on February 23rd, was approved by the New York City Planning Commission (“CPC”) on June 6, 2012 by a vote of 12 to 1.  The City Council will vote next on the proposal this summer. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by Daniel Braff

NYC Council to Vote on Zone Green Text Amendment

Land Use

 

The New York City Council is expected to vote next week on the Zone Green text amendment, which is intended to remove zoning impediments to the construction and retrofitting of green buildings.  The City Planning Commission approved the text amendment on March 28, 2012, subject to modifications, and now it moves to the City Council for a vote.  The text amendment is part of a larger green initiative by the Department of City Planning to promote sustainable communities throughout the City. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by Daniel Braff