Second Department Upholds Determination Granting Area Variances to Yeshiva

Divrei Chaim, a yeshiva (i.e. institution for studying Jewish religious texts), sought several area variances to construct and operate a religious school on its property. The Zoning Board of Appeals of the Town of Ramapo (“ZBA”) granted the application after hearing testimony on the requested variances. Two residents who lived near the proposed religious school (“Petitioners”) commenced a CPLR Article 78 proceeding seeking to annul the ZBA’s determination. The Supreme Court, Rockland County, denied the amended petition to annul the ZBA’s determination, and Petitioners appeal.

On appeal, the Appellate Division, Second Department first noted that a zoning board examines variances under a five factor test, but is “not required to justify its determination with supporting evidence with respect to each of the five factors, so long as its ultimate determination balancing the relevant considerations is rational.” Here, the court found that the ZBA engaged in the required balancing test and considered the relevant statutory factors before granting the application. As such, the record indicated that the ZBA’s determination had a rational basis and was not arbitrary or capricious. For these reasons, the judgment of the Supreme Court, Rockland County, was affirmed.

The case was Cohen v Town of Ramapo Building, Planning and Zoning Department, 150 AD.3d 993 (2d Dep’t 2017).

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