All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) are an increasingly popular recreational activity, but one enthusiast’s attempts to build a track in his backyard are on hold after a decision by the Appellate Division, Fourth Department. Reinstating the West Seneca Planning Board’s original determination, the Court ruled that an ATV track is not a customary accessory use. The Town Code’s examples of accessory uses include “private garages…, family swimming pools, greenhouses, and horse stables.” Given that list and the residential character of the neighborhood, the court found the Planning Board had not acted irrationally or unreasonably. After all, six- to eight-foot jumps and “rumble strips” aren’t exactly benign additions to the neighborhood, and “the evidence in the record establishes that the track would increase already existing problems, including the noise level in the neighborhood, the number of incidents of physical damage and trespass to the neighboring properties, and the potential...to be held liable for injuries occurring on their properties.” As judicial review in such circumstance is limited to “whether the action taken… was illegal, arbitrary, or an abuse of discretion” and finding a rational basis for the decision, the court reversed the trial court and upheld the Planning Boards original decision. Thus while making big jumps on an ATV may very well be how you relax on a weekend, it seems you’ll have to go somewhere other than West Seneca to do it. The neighbors will undoubtedly appreciate it.
The case is Dietrich v. Planning Bd. of Town of West Seneca, 2014 WL 2782147 (NYAD 4 Dept. 2014). The full opinion can be accessed at: http://www.nycourts.gov/courts/ad4/clerk/decisions/2014/06-20-14/PDF/0508.pdf