Building A Better Club Without A Permit

New York is home to all kinds of membership clubs, whether at the beach or the golf course. Today’s case looks at a beach club in the City of New Rochelle, which ran into a bit of stormy weather when it built walls to enclose some outdoor porches for use as storage and office space. Though the club argued this was a “renovation” allowed under the City Code, the City issued a violation for the failure to obtain a building permit. It was later ruled that the enclosure was not a “renovation,” and subsequent requests for a building permit and with the Zoning Board for a use variance were both denied. The club’s owners then filed an Article 78 proceeding.

As always, Article 78 reviews of zoning board of appeals determinations are limited to “whether the action was illegal, arbitrary and capricious, or an abuse of discretion.” Looking to the Code, the court noted its restrictions on beach clubs renovations regarding maximum size and coverage area of structures, noise levels, the number of cabanas, etc. At trial, testimony showed that the enclosure did not extend the club’s “footprint” by modifying existing structures, nor allow for an expansion of membership capacity. It also caused no harms to neighboring lots. The trial court thus overturned the zoning board’s decision and ordered a permit be issued. The appeals court upheld.

The case was Greentree Country Club, Inc. v City of New Rochelle, 2014 WL 2958423 (NYAD 2 Dept. 2014) and it can be found here:

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