B. The Standard for Summary Judgment
The standard for summary judgment is well-settled. Under FED.
R. CIV. P. 56(c), if there is no genuine issue as to any material
fact, the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of
law "where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational
trier of fact to find for the non-moving party." Matsushita
Elec. Indus., Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 106 S.Ct.
1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986); see also Chertkova v. Connecticut
Gen. Life Ins. Co., 92 F.3d 81, 86 (1996). The moving party
bears the initial burden of "informing the . . . court of the
basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of `the
pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and
admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any,' which it
believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material
fact." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct.
2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986) (quoting FED. R. CIV. 56(c)). The
initial burden is to demonstrate "that there is an absence of
evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Id. at 325,
106 S.Ct. 2548.
Once the moving party has met its burden, the non-moving party
must come forward with specific facts showing that there is a
genuine issue for trial. See Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 322,
106 S.Ct. 2548; Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 585-86, 106 S.Ct. 1348.
A dispute regarding a material fact is genuine if a reasonable
jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party; that is,
whether the non-movant's case, if proved at trial, would be
sufficient to survive a motion for judgment as a matter of law.
See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250-51, 106
S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). When reasonable minds,
however, could not differ as to the import of the evidence, then
summary judgment is proper. Bryant v. Maffucci, 923 F.2d 979,
982 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 502 U.S. 849, 112 S.Ct. 152, 116
L.Ed.2d 117 (1991).
Although the trial court must resolve all ambiguities and draw
all inferences in favor of that party against whom summary
judgment is sought, Ramseur v. Chase Manhattan Bank,
865 F.2d 460, 465 (2d Cir. 1989); Eastway Constr. Corp. v. City of New
York, 762 F.2d 243, 249 (2d Cir. 1985) cert. denied,
484 U.S. 918, 108 S.Ct. 269, 98 L.Ed.2d 226 (1987), the motion will not be
defeated by a non-movant who raises merely a "metaphysical doubt"
concerning the facts or who only offers conjecture or surmise.
Delaware & H.R. Co. v. Consolidated Rail Corp., 902 F.2d 174,
178 (2d Cir. 1990), cert. denied, 500 U.S. 928, 111 S.Ct. 2041,
114 L.Ed.2d 125 (1991) (quoting Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586,
106 S.Ct. 1348); see also Western World Ins. Co. v. Stack Oil,
Inc., 922 F.2d 118, 121 (2d Cir. 1990). Indeed, the non-moving
party's opposition may not rest on mere allegations or denials of
the moving party's pleading, but "must set forth specific facts
showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." FED. R. CIV.
C. Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies
As a threshold matter, Defendants argue that Plaintiff's claims
should be dismissed for failure to exhaust its administrative
remedies. Specifically, Defendants contend that Plaintiff should
have pursued a land variance from the Zoning Board and, if
necessary, commence an Article 78 proceeding in state court prior
to initiating the instant action in federal court.
Absent statutory direction to the contrary, the exhaustion of
administrative remedies is not a prerequisite to bringing an
action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Jones v. New York State
Div. of Military and Naval Affairs, 166 F.3d 45, 54 (2d Cir.
1999) (citing Patsy v. Board of Regents, 457 U.S. 496, 516, 102
S.Ct. 2557, 73 L.Ed.2d 172 (1982) ("[E]xhaustion of state
administrative remedies should not be required as a prerequisite
to bringing an action pursuant to [42 U.S.C. § 1983].")); Front
Royal and Warren County Indus. Park Corp. v. Town of Front
Royal, 135 F.3d 275, 283 n. 3 (4th
Cir. 1998); Wilbur v. Harris, 53 F.3d 542, 544 (2d Cir. 1995);
see also Torsoe Bros. Constr. Corp. v. The Architecture and
Community Appearance Bd. of Review for the Town of Orangetown,
120 A.D.2d 738, 502 N.Y.S.2d 787, 788 (2d Dep't 1986) (noting
that an "[A]rticle 78 proceeding is not the proper vehicle to
challenge the constitutionality of legislative enactments").
Moreover, New York courts have recognized that exhaustion of
administrative remedies is not required in cases where "an
agency's action is challenged as either unconstitutional or
wholly beyond its grant of power, or when resort to an
administrative remedy would be futile, or when its pursuit would
cause irreparable injury." Watergate II Apartments v. Buffalo
Sewer Auth., 46 N.Y.2d 52, 57, 412 N.Y.S.2d 821, 385 N.E.2d 560
(1978) (citations omitted). Plaintiff's challenge to the
constitutionality of Section 506 squarely fits within this
exception. See, e.g., 360 Jericho Turnpike Assocs. v.
Incorporated Village of Mineola, 690 N.Y.S.2d 278, 279 (2d Dep't
1999); Polak v. Kavanah, 48 A.D.2d 840, 368 N.Y.S.2d 563, 565
(2d Dep't 1975) ("[W]here . . . the contention is that the
ordinance is . . . unconstitutional . . . no useful purpose can
be served by requiring plaintiffs to proceed under the
Here, Plaintiff's used automobile business is clearly not a
"permitted use" under Section 506. Additionally, it is unlikely
that Plaintiff would have been successful in obtaining a use
variance based on unnecessary hardship because it purchased the
property with actual or constructive knowledge of any applicable
zoning restrictions and, thus, any alleged hardship arising from
the Town's enforcement of those restrictions would arguably be
viewed as self-created. See N.Y. TOWN LAW § 267-b(2)(b)
(McKinney's 1999) (Cumulative Pocket Part); McGlasson Realty,
Inc. v. Town of Patterson Bd. of Appeals, 234 A.D.2d 462,
651 N.Y.S.2d 131, 132 (2d Dep't 1996) ("A prospective purchaser of
property is chargeable with knowledge of the applicable
restrictions of the zoning law and is bound by them and by the
facts and circumstances which can be learned by the exercise of
reasonable diligence, even where there are harsh results."),
leave to appeal denied, 89 N.Y.2d 812, 657 N.Y.S.2d 404,
679 N.E.2d 643 (1997); Long Island Leasing Corp. v. Casey,
138 A.D.2d 596, 526 N.Y.S.2d 768, 768 (2d Dep't 1988); Carriage
Works Enters., Ltd. v. Siegel, 118 A.D.2d 568, 499 N.Y.S.2d 439,
440 (2d Dep't 1986) ("One who knowingly acquires land for a use
prohibited by a zoning ordinance may not thereafter obtain a
variance on the ground of hardship; otherwise stated, a zoning
board may not grant a variance to relieve a self-created
hardship."). Accordingly, Plaintiff was not required to exhaust
its administrative remedies prior to initiating the present
action in federal court.
D. Equal Protection Claim
Plaintiff first argues that Section 506, as applied to
Goldstar, violates the Equal Protection Clause. Specifically,
Plaintiff contends that Section 506 is facially discriminatory
because it distinguishes based on the identity of the land user
and the type of automobiles sold by the land user. See Pl. Mem.
of Law at 7-8. In response, Defendants advance two arguments.
First, Defendants argue that they are statutorily authorized to
regulate the sale of used automobiles, see N.Y. TOWN LAW §
136(1), and that Section 506 is rationally related to the Town's
legitimate zoning objectives. Second, Defendants argue that
Plaintiff was not treated differently than other similarly
situated used automobile establishments. See Defs. Mem. of Law
A state and its instrumentalities may not deny "any person
within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." U.S.
Const. Amend. XIV. "At its core, equal protection prohibits the
government from treating similarly situated persons differently."
Sound Aircraft Servs., Inc. v. Town of East Hampton,
192 F.3d 329, 335 (2d Cir. 1999) (citing City of Cleburne v. Cleburne
Living Ctr., 473 U.S. 432, 439, 105 S.Ct.
3249, 87 L.Ed.2d 313 (1985)); Brady v. Town of Colchester,
863 F.2d 205, 216 (2d Cir. 1988) ("To state an equal protection
claim, a plaintiff must charge a governmental officer `not only
with deliberately interpreting a statute against the plaintiff,
but also with singling him out alone for that
misinterpretation.'") (quotation omitted).
"Generally, a municipal zoning ordinance is presumed to be
valid," and the ordinance will be held constitutional "if its
wisdom is at least fairly debatable and it bears a rational
relationship to a permissible state objective." Greene v. Town
of Blooming Grove, 879 F.2d 1061, 1063 (2d Cir. 1989) (citing
City of Cleburne, 473 U.S. at 440, 105 S.Ct. 3249); see also
Ultimate Custom Cycles, Inc. v. Town of Greenburgh, 1999 WL
135201, at *7 (S.D.N.Y. Mar.11, 1999) ("Zoning is a
quasi-legislative function, and, therefore, zoning decisions are
reviewed to determine whether the classifications drawn by the
regulations are rationally related to a legitimate interest of
the state of municipality.") (citing Schweiker v. Wilson,
450 U.S. 221, 230, 101 S.Ct. 1074, 67 L.Ed.2d 186 (1981)); Simon v.
Town of Dryden, 1989 WL 103743, at *3 (N.D.N.Y. Aug.28, 1989)
("It is beyond peradventure that, because zoning is a legislative
act, zoning ordinances enjoy a strong presumption of
constitutionality and that the party challenging a zoning
ordinance bears a very heavy burden in overcoming that
A zoning ordinance will be upheld unless it is "`clearly
arbitrary and unreasonable, having no substantial relationship to
the public health, safety, morals or general welfare.'" Ultimate
Custom Cycles, 1999 WL 135201, at *7 (quoting Village of Euclid
v. Ambler Realty Co., 272 U.S. 365, 385, 47 S.Ct. 114, 71 L.Ed.
303 (1926)); see also Restigouche, Inc. v. Town of Jupiter,
59 F.3d 1208, 1214 (11th Cir. 1995) ("As long [as] there is [a]
`plausible, arguably legitimate purpose' for the application of
the [municipal ordinance] . . . summary judgment [in favor of
municipality] is appropriate unless [plaintiff] can demonstrate
that the Town could not possibly have relied on that purpose.")
(quotation omitted); Bannum, Inc. v. City of St. Charles,
2 F.3d 267, 271 (8th Cir. 1993) (noting that a plaintiff
challenging the constitutionality of a zoning ordinance under the
Equal Protection Clause must demonstrate that "the zoning
ordinance is `so unrelated to the achievement of any combination
of legitimate purposes that we can only conclude that the
legislature's actions were irrational.'") (quotation omitted).
Legitimate zoning objectives include "[t]he preservation of the
character and integrity of single-family neighborhoods,
prevention of undue concentration of population, prevention of
traffic congestion and maintenance of property values." Nelson
v. City of Selma, 881 F.2d 836, 839 (9th Cir. 1989) (citing
Village of Belle Terre v. Boraas, 416 U.S. 1, 9, 94 S.Ct. 1536,
39 L.Ed.2d 797 (1974)); see also Restigouche, Inc., 59 F.3d at
1214 (noting that "maintenance of community aesthetics is a
legitimate government purpose"); Corn v. City of Lauderdale
Lakes, 997 F.2d 1369, 1387 (11th Cir. 1993) (noting that "noise,
traffic, congestion, safety, aesthetics, valuation of adjoining
land, and effect on city services" constitute rational and
permissible bases for land use restrictions), cert. denied,
511 U.S. 1018, 114 S.Ct. 1400, 128 L.Ed.2d 73 (1994); Shelton v.
City of College Station, 780 F.2d 475, 484 (5th Cir.), cert.
denied, 477 U.S. 905, 106 S.Ct. 3276, 91 L.Ed.2d 566 (1986);
Ultimate Custom Cycles, Inc., 1999 WL 135201, at *7; Town of
Dryden, 1989 WL 103743, at *4. Such legitimate purposes may be
shown by "reasonable inferences from specific testimony of
individuals, local studies, or the experiences of other cities."
SDJ, Inc. v. City of Houston, 837 F.2d 1268, 1274 (5th Cir.
1988), cert. denied sub nom., M.E.F. Enters., Inc. v. City of
Houston, 489 U.S. 1052, 109 S.Ct. 1310, 103 L.Ed.2d 579 (1989).
Because federal courts "do not sit as zoning appeal boards, great
deference must be accorded legislative determinations of a
community's needs and its responses to problems, potential or
otherwise," Town of
Dryden, 1989 WL 103743, at *3; see also DLC Management Corp.
v. Town of Hyde Park, 163 F.3d 124, 131 (2d Cir. 1998); Zahra
v. Town of Southold, 48 F.3d 674, 679-80 (2d Cir. 1995); RRI
Realty Corp. v. Incorporated Village of Southampton,
870 F.2d 911, 918 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 493 U.S. 893, 110 S.Ct. 240,
107 L.Ed.2d 191 (1989), and a federal court will not "`sift
through the record to determine whether policy decisions are
squarely supported by a firm factual foundation.'" Town of
Blooming Grove, 879 F.2d at 1064 (quotation omitted); Horizon
Concepts, Inc. v. City of Balch Springs, 789 F.2d 1165, 1167
(5th Cir. 1986).
Here, the challenged ordinance permits the sale of "franchised
or factory authorized motor vehicles," and "used automobiles only
if incidental to new sales of same." Pl. Mem. of Law at 15
(excerpt of Section 506). While Section 506 permits a business
selling new automobiles to make incidental sales of used
automobiles, it prohibits all businesses comprised entirely
of used automobile sales. Because Plaintiff's intention to sell
only used automobiles places it in a different class than those
land users that primarily sell new automobiles, Goldstar is not
"similarly situated" with those new automobile sellers. Thus,
Plaintiff has failed to show that it was being treated
differently than other land users that exclusively sell used
automobiles. Notably, the distinction drawn by the Town between
new and used automobiles is consistent with Town Law § 136(1),
which permits a municipality to regulate the sale of second-hand
The Court also finds that Section 506 passes constitutional
muster based on the Town's stated objectives. Defendants have
submitted the affidavit of George Hansen, Chairman of the Zoning
Board of Appeals for the Town of Halfmoon. Hansen was also a
member of the Town's Master Planning Committee and its Zoning
Revision Committee. Having served in these varying capacities
since 1986, Hansen is familiar with the zoning of the Town, and,
specifically, zoning issues relevant to used automobile
businesses that operated within the Town. See Affidavit of
George Hansen ("Hansen Aff."), at ¶ 1. In his affidavit, Hansen
states that Section 506 was enacted based on the numerous
environmental and safety concerns prevalent in past used
automobile businesses that operated in the Town. Specifically,
Hansen states that, historically, used car sale lots have not
adhered to environmental protections concerning "pavement and
protection of storm water runoff [and] the use of oil/water
separators." Id. at 5. Hansen further states that used cars
more typically leak fluids, and used car lots generally lack the
maintenance facilities present in new car lots or car rental
agencies that deal with fluid runoff. Id. Hansen further states
that used car lots have contributed to the proliferation of junk
cars and spare parts that cause pollution and "detract from
[the] general welfare of the community." Id. An increased
turnover in used car lots within the Town has also "accentuate[d]
environmental concerns and concerns over the protection and
preservation of property within the Town." Id. Hansen also
states that the Town has experienced safety concerns in the past
in connection with the operation of used car lots. These include
"an absence of trash receptacles, compactors or trash bins, [and]
an absence of sanitary facilities." Id. Hansen also asserts
that the environmental and safety concerns associated with used
car lots are not present in new car lots or rental car agencies
that "typical[ly] have considerable structures under carefully
controlled site plan provisions [that] carefully assess
environmental impact and concerns for public safety." Id. at ¶
The Court finds that Defendants have articulated a legitimate
purpose for the ordinance, and that the ordinance is rationally
related to the Town's legitimate interest in addressing various
environmental and safety concerns associated with used car lots.
Based on its past experiences, the Town could reasonably have
determined that zoning the C-I Commercial District to preclude
used automobile lots would reduce these concerns. Notably,
Plaintiff has not disputed the validity of the Town's concerns.
Moreover, although Plaintiff contends that the Town could address
its concerns by alternative means, a zoning ordinance will not be
held unconstitutional under the rational basis standard when it
"is not made with mathematical nicety or because in practice it
results in some inequality." Heller v. Doe, 509 U.S. 312, 321,
113 S.Ct. 2637, 125 L.Ed.2d 257 (1993) (quoting Lindsley v.
Natural Carbonic Gas Co., 220 U.S. 61, 78, 31 S.Ct. 337, 55
L.Ed. 369 (1911)); see also Schweiker, 450 U.S. at 235, 101
S.Ct. 1074 ("As long as the classificatory scheme chosen . . .
rationally advances a reasonable and identifiable governmental
objective, we must disregard the existence of other methods of
allocation that we, as individuals, perhaps would have
preferred."); Pinnacle Nursing Home v. Axelrod, 928 F.2d 1306,
1317 (2d Cir. 1991) ("[G]overnment regulation in the area of
economics and social welfare `carries with it a presumption of
rationality that can only be overcome by a clear showing of
arbitrariness and irrationality.'") (quoting Hodel v. Indiana,
452 U.S. 314, 331-32, 101 S.Ct. 2376, 69 L.Ed.2d 40 (1981)).
Accordingly, because Section 506 is rationally related to
legitimate state interests, and because Plaintiff has raised no
triable issues of fact, the Court dismisses Plaintiff's Equal
E. Due Process Claim
"To state a claim under the Fourteenth Amendment for
deprivation of a property right without due process of law in the
context of a zoning dispute, [Plaintiff] must establish that he
has a protectible property interest as defined by state law."
Town of Blooming Grove, 879 F.2d at 1064 (citing Board of
Regents of State Colleges v. Roth, 408 U.S. 564, 577, 92 S.Ct.
2701, 33 L.Ed.2d 548 (1972)). In determining whether a property
interest in a particular land use has vested sufficient to give
rise to a substantive due process claim under the Fourteenth
Amendment, the Second Circuit applies a "strict entitlement"
test. See DLC Management Corp., 163 F.3d at 130 (citing RRI
Realty Corp., 870 F.2d at 917-18); Ultimate Custom Cycles,
Inc., 1999 WL 135201, at *6. This test "focuses primarily on the
`degree of official discretion and not on the probability of its
favorable exercise.'" Town of Blooming Grove, 879 F.2d at 1065
(citing RRI Realty Corp., 870 F.2d at 918).
Contrary to Plaintiff's argument, land ownership alone does not
create a legal entitlement sufficient to trigger Fourteenth
Amendment protection. See DLC Management Corp., 163 F.3d at
131. Section 506, which existed at the time Plaintiff entered
into a lease for the Site, prohibits a land user from operating a
used automobile business in the C-I Commercial District. Thus,
Plaintiff cannot reasonably claim that he was not on notice that
his proposed used automobile business was not a "permitted use"
under Section 506. Moreover, Plaintiff does not dispute that it
was within the broad discretion of the Zoning Board to deny
Plaintiff's petition. Based on these circumstances, Plaintiff
cannot establish a legal entitlement to operate its used
automobile business when such use was clearly prohibited by law
prior to the time it executed the lease for the Site.
Significantly, Plaintiff does not contend, nor does the record
reflect, that it undertook substantial construction or made
substantial expenditures after leasing the Site sufficient for a
property right to vest. See DLC Management Corp., 163 F.3d at
131. Accordingly, the Court finds that Plaintiff lacks a property
interest sufficient to sustain a substantive due process claim.
For all of the foregoing reasons, Plaintiff's motion for
summary judgment is DENIED, and Defendants' cross-motion for
summary judgment is GRANTED, dismissing
Plaintiff's Complaint in its entirety.
IT IS SO ORDERED.