Second Circuit Court Affirms Denial Of Equal Protection Claim Regarding Off-Street Parking Variance

Almost two years after Plaintiff 26 Seminary LLC purchased the property at issue, the Binghamton City Council adopted Ordinance 009-009, amending Chapter 410 of the Zoning Ordinance of the City of Binghamton to require increased off-street parking, including in residential areas of the city, when a building owner sought to modify the use of an existing structure on the property.  Shortly after the new ordinance was adopted, 26 Seminary LLC sought to renovate and modify the use of parts of the structure on its property. The City of Binghamton's Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals (“ZBA”) denied 26 Seminary LLC's application for a variance from the new off-street parking requirement.  Based upon this denial and other events and interactions with the City that occurred during the application process, 26 Seminary LLC brought a non-class-based equal protection claim. The United States District Court for the Northern District of New York granted summary judgment to Defendants, and the Plaintiffs now appeal.

On appeal, the Second Circuit found that 26 Seminary LLC failed to point to any comparable property as a basis for its equal protection claim. In fact, the Court found that the two properties cited as comparators, 63 Front Street and 46 Seminary Avenue, differed significantly from 26 Seminary Avenue. 46 Seminary Avenue involved conversion from one commercial use to another, and 63 Front Street site had an entirely different classification for zoning purposes than the 26 Seminary LLC’s property. In addition, both sites included some off-street parking accommodation as a component of their proposed site plans, while the site plan for the subject property did not. As 26 Seminary LLC failed to point to any substantially comparable example of the City of Binghamton's applying its zoning law regarding the off-street parking requirement, the issue at the heart of Plaintiff’s equal protection claim, the Court held that summary judgment in favor of the City was appropriate and affirmed the District Court’s decision.

The case was 33 Seminary LLC v. The City of Binghamton, 670 Fed.Appx. 727 (2nd Cir. 2016).

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