Appellate Division Upholds Denial of Article 78 Petition Against Zoning Board of Appeals of the Village of North Haven
July 20, 2020
Ronald A. Kaye, the property owner at 39 Actors Colony Road, Village of North Haven, sought to subdivide his 157, 241 square foot property into two residential lots. The subject property is located in the Residence R-1 Zoning District where the minimum lot size is 80,000 square feet. In October of 2016, he made an application to the Zoning Board of Appeals (“ZBA”) for a lot area variance to subdivide the property into two lots, one measuring 77,241 square feet and the other 80,000 square feet.
The Zoning Board by decision dated May 9, 2017, denied the application. See Village of North Haven Zoning Board of Appeals Decision No. 391A, Application of Ronald A. Kaye, dated May 9, 2017. In its determination, the ZBA listed the neighboring properties in the Actors Colony Road neighborhood including the sizes of those properties, the majority of which were larger than 80,000 square feet. While the applicant claimed that the neighborhood included smaller nonconforming lots around Actors Colony Road, the ZBA felt otherwise stating, “applicant’s representatives sought over and again to enlarge the Actors Colony neighborhood in order to dilute or distort distinctly larger lot sizes dominating the neighborhood.” The ZBA further found, “to the naked eye the prevailing character of the Actors Colony Road neighborhood is a neighborhood of larger lots each improved with single family residences…to the naked eye the neighborhood of larger lots appears different from the encircling area of smaller non-conforming lots, none of which infiltrate into the larger lot neighborhood.”
Moreover, applicant’s argument that the relief requested was de minimis at 3.45% and therefore not substantial, failed to convince the ZBA. The ZBA stated, the relief sought as a percentage did not diminish the substantial detriment to the neighborhood if the relief were granted and then applied as a precedent…” In its decision, the ZBA listed every property in the Actors Colony neighborhood that could be affected by the determination as precedent, listing the number of lots that each property could yield, noting the “net impact of the foregoing would be an addition of 15 lots within the Actors Colony Road neighborhood.”
Kaye appealed to the Supreme Court, Suffolk County and by decision dated June 18, 2018, the Court upheld the ZBA’s denial. Citing the extensive case law supporting the broad discretion afforded to local zoning boards in considering applications for variances and the limited nature of judicial review, the Court found the ZBA’s determination had a rational basis and was supported by substantial evidence in the record. The Court emphasized that the property owner’s hardship was self-created since he was aware of the zoning upon purchase and that granting the variance would have a “detrimental future impact on the unique nature of the Actors Colony Road neighborhood and result in an undesirable change to the character of that neighborhood.” The Supreme Court dismissed the Article 78 Proceeding.
Kaye appealed the Supreme Court’s determination to the Appellate Division, Second Department where the Court upheld the ZBA’s denial yet again. In the Matter of Ronald A. Kaye v. Zoning Board of the Village of North Haven, Index No. 2019-00851, dated July 15, 2020, the Court held that “contrary to petitioner’s contentions, the ZBA’s determination that the introduction of a substandard lot was detrimental to, and would cause an undesirable change in the character of the neighborhood which was characterized by oversized lots, had a rational basis and the ZBA was entitled to consider the effect its decision would have as precedent.” Ultimately, the Court upheld the Supreme Court’s determination to deny the petition and dismiss the proceeding.