Second Circuit Denies Class of One Claim Absent Evidence Of Preferential Treatment To Similarly Situated Properties

Appellant appealed from District Court order granting summary judgment for Respondents Town of Enfield, the Town’s Planning and Zoning Commission, and various officials on Appellant’s class-of-one equal protection claim. Appellant argued Respondents discriminated against her by denying her subdivision application, which complied with all relevant regulations, over concerns about flooding, traffic safety, neighborhood aesthetics, as well as community opposition. Appellant also contended Respondents had approved all other applications that conformed with those requirements since 1999.

On appeal, the Second Circuit noted that where a class of one plaintiff challenges a zoning decision, he or she must identify comparable properties that are similarly situated with regard to the zoning board's “principal reasons” for denying the application. Here, Appellant attempted to compare her application to other applications which were in full compliance with the Town’s technical requirements for a residential subdivision, but unlike her application had been approved. Despite this, Appellant failed to provide any evidence these comparators were “similarly situated” to hers regarding the considerations underlying the denial of her subdivision plan, including the concerns about flooding, traffic safety, etc. The Court held that unlike a challenge to the merits of a zoning decision, requiring only evidence the defendants subjected a plaintiff to unlawful treatment, an equal protection claim requires evidence that the plaintiff was singled out for such treatment where defendants had no legitimate interest in treating the plaintiff differently. As the Appellant failed to establish any similar situated comparators, the dismissal of her class of one claim was affirmed.

The case was Pappas v Town of Enfield, 602 Fed. Appx. 35 (2nd Cir. 2015).

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