Second Department Dismisses Claim Over Town Board’s Approval Of Wireless Communications Tower As Moot

Petitioners brought a hybrid Article 78 / declaratory judgment action seeking review of two resolutions passed by the Town Board of the Town of Kent authorizing the construction and operation of a 150–foot monopole wireless communications tower by Defendant/Respondent Homeland Towers, LLC.  The lower court denied the petition, dismissed the proceeding, and declared that the resolutions are not null and void.  Petitioners appealed, and Respondent moved to dismiss the appeal as academic in light of the completion of the tower.

The Appellate Division, Second Department noted that “typically, the doctrine of mootness is invoked where a change in circumstances prevents a court from rendering a decision that would effectively determine an actual controversy.”  For cases involving a construction project, the court must consider how far the work has progressed, however a “race to completion cannot be determinative.” As such, other factors, such as whether the plaintiff sought a preliminary injunction to prevent construction from commencing or continuing during the pendency of the litigation, must also be weighed.  Here, Petitioners never requested a preliminary injunction, and the Court found their claim that they did not do so due to monetary constraints “unavailing under the circumstances of this case.”  As Respondent “established that the construction of the tower was not performed in bad faith or without authority, that the work could not be readily undone without substantial hardship,” the Court held that “this appeal does not present any recurring novel or substantial issues that are sufficiently evanescent to evade review otherwise.”   As such, the Court granted Respondent’s motion to dismiss the appeal.

The case was Bruenn v. Town Bd. of Town of Kent, 145 A.D.3d 878 (2d Dep’t 2016).

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