Fourth Department Finds Denial Of District Boundary Appeal Was Arbitrary And Capricious

Petitioner owned property in the Woodlot Overlay Protection District in the Town of Irondequoit. Section 235–44 Irondequoit Town Code provides that the “Town Department of Planning and Zoning shall be responsible for interpreting EPOD boundaries based on an interpretation of the Official Town of Irondequoit EPOD Maps, as well as the use of various criteria set forth in this article for determining such district boundaries.” It further provides that “appeals… regarding boundaries of overlay districts shall be made to the Town Planning Board in accordance with the public hearing procedures.” Petitioner appealed to Respondent Town Planning Board regarding the boundaries of the Woodlot EPOD that encompassed his property, and submitted evidence that his property did not meet the criteria for a Woodlot EPOD set forth in section 235–53(B). Respondent denied the appeal, and Petitioner commenced an CPLR article 78 proceeding.  The Supreme Court granted Respondent’s motion to dismiss, and Petitioner appealed.

On appeal, the Court agreed with the lower Court that the Town Code’s plain language did not prohibit Respondent from changing the boundary lines shown on the EPOD maps, and that Respondent’s authority to make such changes extended beyond situations in which the property was located near the existing boundary as shown on the EPOD map. However, the Court rejected Respondent’s claim that the appeal was untimely, as the Town Code did not set any time limit for when property owners could seek an interpretation of overlay district boundaries. Thus, the motion to dismiss should not have been granted, and the lower court’s decision was accordingly reversed, and the petition reinstated.

The case was Gilbert v Planning Board of Town of Irondequoit, 148 A.D. 3d 1587 (4 Dep’t 2017).

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