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SAG HARBOR PORT ASSOCS. v. VILLAGE OF SAG HARBOR

September 11, 1998

SAG HARBOR PORT ASSOCIATES, Plaintiff, against VILLAGE OF SAG HARBOR, Defendant.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: GERSHON

OPINION AND ORDER

 GERSHON, United States District Judge:

 Plaintiff Sag Harbor Port Associates alleges that defendant Village of Sag Harbor enacted an unlawful zoning ordinance in violation of the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment, and New York State law. Plaintiff seeks a judgment declaring the zoning ordinance unconstitutional, void, unenforceable and unlawful under New York State law; enjoining defendant from enforcing the ordinance; directing defendant to grant plaintiff a special use permit to develop its land; and awarding plaintiff approximately nine million dollars in damages. Defendant moves for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, defendant's motion is granted.

 FACTS

 Unless otherwise noted, the following facts are undisputed:

 In 1982, Plaintiff purchased a nine acre parcel of undeveloped land in the Village of Sag Harbor (the "Village") on Long Island. Plaintiff's land is known as the "old Cilli Farm" and is located on the former site of a dairy farm dating back to the early 1900s. Since 1981, the property has been part of an R-20 zoning district, an area restricted by the Village zoning code (the "Code") primarily to single-family homes. Prior to 1984, the construction of recreational and community facilities in the R-20 district was limited to municipal parks and playgrounds, public libraries and museums, fire stations, and municipal offices. In 1984, however, the Village Board of Trustees ("Village Board") amended the Code to permit various "special exception uses," including tennis clubs. *fn1" The Zoning Board of Appeals ("Zoning Board") is now authorized to grant "special use" permits to applicants whose proposals satisfy eleven conditions delineated in § 55-13.3 of the Code. *fn2"

 In June 1994, plaintiff applied to the Zoning Board for a permit to construct a tennis club on its property. Plaintiff described the club as follows:

 
....The initial construction of four permanently enclosed courts, a two story clubhouse (clubhouse 2550 sq. ft. footprint) and a parking area. Future expansion of the facility (four additional tennis courts) is also included as part of the subject application. Enclosure of the courts (seasonal and permanent) will be made by opaque polyester fabric supported by forced air (i.e. an air structure).

 Plaintiff had applied previously for permits to construct a residential housing development and a nursing home, but had withdrawn each application before the Zoning Board had completed its review. According to plaintiff, its prior proposals were met with vigorous opposition from community members and groups opposed to development of its land, and it eventually withdrew the applications because the Village's unfounded resistance caused the deals to falter.

 In anticipation of similar opposition, plaintiff submitted a lengthy draft environmental impact statement ("DEIS") with its application for the tennis club. The Zoning Board began consideration of plaintiff's application in August 1994. The application necessitated review under the State Environmental Quality Review Act, New York Environmental Conservation Law, Art. 8, §§ 101 et seq. ("SEQRA") *fn3" , as well as the Code, and in September 1994, the Zoning Board passed a resolution directing its chairman to forward a Lead Agency Notification and Request for Comments to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. In October 1994, the Zoning Board designated itself as lead agency under SEQRA.

 The Zoning Board held public hearings in November and December 1994, during which it requested comments from town residents. It is undisputed that a significant number of community members were opposed to the tennis club and voiced their opposition during the hearings and in individual letters and group petitions to the Zoning Board. Village residents cited increased noise and traffic, the visual impact, and potential drainage problems as their primary concerns. A smaller number of Village residents voiced their support for the club.

 During a meeting in December 1994, the Zoning Board notified plaintiff of its environmental concerns. Following the meeting, plaintiff prepared a "scoping outline," listing the issues identified by the Zoning Board. The Zoning Board reviewed the outline in January 1995, after which plaintiff agreed to file a supplemental DEIS addressing the environmental issues in more detail. Thereafter, the Zoning Board adjourned consideration of plaintiff's application indefinitely, pending submission of the report. Between January and June 1995, the Zoning Board held three additional meetings during which plaintiff's application appeared on the calendar. Consideration of the application was adjourned on each occasion, however, because plaintiff had not completed the supplemental report.

 In March 1995, while plaintiff's application was still pending before the Zoning Board, the Village Board began consideration of proposed Local Law No. 2 of 1995. The proposed law deleted tennis clubs as a "special exception use" from § 55-4.3 of the Code. The Village Board conducted two public hearings in April and May, during which it requested comments about the proposed law. Plaintiff did not appear at either meeting. On June 6, 1995, the Village Board concluded that the proposed law would have no impact on the environment and, thus, issued a negative declaration under SEQRA. During the same meeting, the Village Board adopted Local Law No. 2.

 Defendant asserts that the purpose of enacting Local Law No. 2 was to preclude the operation of commercial tennis facilities in a residential district. According to defendant, Local Law No. 2 potentially affects at least eighteen parcels of land in the R-20 district. Defendant further asserts that a number of reasonable uses, including residential housing, are still available to plaintiff under the Code ...


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