Appellate Court Holds Plaintiffs’ Challenges to SEQRA and Rezoning Determinations Were Moot

In 2012, defendant PCP Watervliet, LLC, a subsidiary of defendant Nigro Companies, purchased property in the City of Watervliet from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany County.  The property contained an unused church, school and rectory. Nigro petitioned the City Council to rezone the parcel from residential to commercial and, following public hearings, the City issued a negative declaration and amended its zoning map.  Individuals then brought this challenge alleging that the City failed to comply with SEQRA, engaged in illegal spot zoning, and violated the Open Meetings Law.  The trial court granted defendants' motions for summary judgment and dismissed the amended complaint, and Plaintiffs appealed.

As a preliminary matter on appeal, the Appellate Division, Third Department found that plaintiffs Carol and Patrick Falaro presumptively established their standing to challenge the City's determinations.  As their residence is immediately across the street from Nigro's parcel, they will suffer direct harm different from the general public, even absent allegations of individual harm.  Despite this, the Court held that the Plaintiffs' challenges to the SEQRA and rezoning determinations were moot.  Plaintiffs failed to seek any injunctive relief from the Court during the pendency of their appeal, and because of this the church buildings had already been demolished, and the proposed grocery store was fully constructed and operational. Furthermore, the rezoning determination was superseded by the City's adoption of a new zoning code in which Nigro's use of the parcel is permitted as a right, and Plaintiffs did not challenge that code. Accordingly, the Court dismissed Plaintiff’s claim as moot.

The case was Citizens for St. Patrick's v City of Watervliet City Counsel, 126 A.D.3d 1159 (3d Dep’t 2015).

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