Appellate Court Upholds Zoning Board’s Denial of Area Variance Application for Single Family Home

Petitioner commenced a CPLR article 78 proceeding to review a determination of the Zoning Board of Appeals of the Town of Southold (“ZBA”) denying its application for area and lot-width variances. The Supreme Court granted the petition, annulled the determination, and directed the ZBA to grant the application. The ZBA appealed.

The Appellate Division, Second Department noted that since local zoning boards have broad discretion in considering applications for variances, judicial review is limited to determining whether the action taken by the board was illegal, arbitrary, or an abuse of discretion. Here, the Court found that the denial of Petitioners' application for area and lot-width variances to build a single-family dwelling by the ZBA had a rational basis and was supported by evidence in the record. Granting the variances would have resulted in the creation of a nonconforming lot in a unique neighborhood. In addition, the Court held that the ZBA granting of a particular prior application for an area variance did not constitute a precedent from which the ZBA was required to explain a departure, especially since Petitioner failed to establish that the prior application bore sufficient factual similarity to the subject application.  Accordingly, the court held that the Supreme Court should not have disturbed the ZBA's determination denying the petitioners' application for area and lot-width variances, and reversed.

The case was Traendly v. Zoning Board of Appeals of Town of Southold, 127 A.D.3d 1218 (2d Dep’t 2015).

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