Appellate Term Reverses Conviction For Violations Of Zoning Provisions

This criminal action was based upon defendant’s alleged violations of the Code of the Village of Pelham Manor.  Defendant allegedly allowed two individuals to reside in a “carriage house” without obtaining a permit or a certificate of occupancy as required under the relevant Code provisions, and by using or occupying the premises for a purpose other than an accessory and/or special accessory building. This was the extent of the factual allegations set forth in the “information” and “supporting deposition.”  After the matter had been transferred to the City Court of New Rochelle, the People moved for “summary judgment,” which the City Court granted.

The court first noted that the three counts in the “information” were “deemed misdemeanors” under § 210-8(B) of the Code.  Accordingly, there was no authority for a criminal court to convict pursuant to a pretrial motion for summary judgment, as the CPLR is inapplicable to criminal proceedings.  Moreover, the Criminal Procedure Law does not include a provision for accelerated judgment.

In addition, the Court found that the counts charged in the accusatory instrument were jurisdictionally defective, and must therefore be dismissed.  Specifically, the factual allegations that two individuals had been residing in the “carriage house” were conclusory, rather than evidentiary, and the instrument’s allegations did not establish the elements of the offenses charged. Accordingly, the judgment of conviction was reversed and the accusatory instrument was dismissed.

The case was People v Cullen, 56 Misc.3d 45 (Sup. Ct., App. Term, 2d Dep’t 2017).

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