The opinion of the court was delivered by: COLLEEN McMAHON, District Judge
DECISION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS
Plaintiffs Community Housing Management Corp., Inc. ("CHMC"),
Carrington Arms Housing Development Fund Company, Inc.
("Carrington Arms"), Lincoln Towers Housing Development Fund
Corporation ("Lincoln Towers"), Huguenot Housing Associates, LLC
("Huguenot House"), Washington House Housing Development Fund
("Washington House"), Maple Center Limited Profit Housing
Company, Inc. ("Maple Center"), Maple Terrace Housing Development
Fund Company, Inc. (Maple Terrace"), Jean Anderson, and Robert
Rice (collectively, "plaintiffs") own, operate, and occupy
low-income and senior occupied apartment buildings in New
Rochelle, New York. Collectively, they brought an action to set
aside, as applied to them, a "user fee" imposed by the City of New Rochelle
(the "City") for costs allegedly associated with refuse
collection and disposal ("refuse fee"). Plaintiffs sought to
avoid the compulsory refuse fee on the basis that they do not use
the City's sanitation service, but rather wish to continue the
private sanitation contracts as they have for the last twelve
Plaintiffs brought this action against defendants City and the
City Council of the City of New Rochelle (the "City Council")
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1988 claiming a deprivation of
their rights under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses
of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Commerce Clause, Art. I, Sec. 8,
the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3601, et seq., and multiple
state causes of action.
Plaintiff moved for summary judgment pursuant to Fed.R. Civ.
P. 56, and defendants moved to dismiss for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1), or in the
alternative, for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth
below, I grant the defendants' motion to dismiss for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction and dismiss without prejudice both
parties' motions for summary judgment as moot.
The facts alleged as per the Complaint, are as follows:
CHMC is a New York Corporation responsible for the operation of
low and moderate income housing properties including Carrington
Arms, Lincoln Towers, Huguenot House, Washington House, Maple
Center, and Maple Terrace, each of which are apartment buildings
(multi-family dwellings) in New Rochelle. Cplt. ¶¶ 4; 15-26.
These plaintiffs are in the business of operating low-income,
moderate-income, and senior housing developments in the City.
Cplt. ¶ 110. Plaintiffs receive federal funding for the operation
of their developments and are in turn limited in the amount of rent they can charge defendants. Cplt. ¶
Jean Anderson and Robert Rice are both New Rochelle residents
who are tenants in one or more of these apartment buildings and
who pay rent to the owners for the housing, services, and
facilities. Cplt. ¶¶ 29, 31.
Like any apartment building, the residents of these buildings
including Anderson and Rice generate solid waste, refuse, and
trash, which the property operators need to have removed from the
premises. Cplt. ¶¶ 27-29. The City of New Rochelle provides solid
waste, refuse, and trash collection services, including
recyclables to some, but not all, property owners in the City.
Cplt. ¶ 32.
Prior to January 1, 2004, the City levied taxes against all
non-exempt property owners within the City to finance the cost of
trash collection services. Cplt. ¶ 38. With the exception of
Hugeunot House, all plaintiffs were tax-exempt property owners or
were tax-exempt property owners but remitted payments to the City
pursuant to a Payments-In-Lieu-Of-Tax-Agreement ("PILOT"). Cplt.
¶ 39. Hugeunot House paid taxes to the City like any ordinary
property owner part of which was presumably used to fund the
cost of the trash collection services provided to New Rochelle
residents. Cplt. ¶ 40.
At all relevant times, prior to January 1, 2004, defendants did
not provide trash collection services to plaintiffs at their
respective premises. Cplt. ¶ 41. Plaintiffs claim that defendants
could not provide adequate trash collection services. Cplt. ¶ 42.
Because defendants could not provide plaintiffs with adequate
trash removal services, the owners and operators of Carrington
Arms, Lincoln Towers, Huguenot House, Washington House, Maple
Center, and Maple Terrace, entered into written contracts with a
private carter for the removal of solid waste, refuse, and trash generated by the
operations' residential tenants, and others at plaintiffs'
respective properties. Cplt. ¶ 44. Pursuant to these contracts,
plaintiffs must remit a monetary sum to the private carter on
a monthly basis for the trash collection services. Cplt. ¶ 45.
On or about November 18, 2003, the City resolved that it would
hold a public hearing on December 9, 2003, on a proposed Local
Law to "establish residential refuse fees and providing for the
lien and collection thereof." Cplt. ¶ 48. And on or about
December 29, 2003, the City Council enacted Local Law 13,
entitled "Local Law Intro No . . . adopting a new subsection
163-20.C to Article IV of Chapter 163, Garbage, Rubbish and
Refuse of the City Code to establish residential refuse fees and
providing for the lien and collection thereof" (hereinafter
"Local Law 13"). Cplt. ¶ 49.
Pursuant to Local Law 13, the City Council established
"Residential Refuse Fees to defray the cost of collection,
transportation, and disposal of solid waste and recyclables from
improved real properties containing dwelling units in the City."
Cplt. ¶ 50. The law became effective on January 1, 2004. Cplt. ¶
53. Plaintiffs allege that Local Law 13 was actually adopted as a
pretext to defray the City's increased pension and retirement
costs. Cplt. ¶ 50.
Defendants enacted Local Law 13 and Section 133-1
(collectively, the "refuse fee") as a means of establishing a
locally controlled revenue source because the State of New York
limited defendants' ability to raise property taxes to no more
than the increase in the Consumer Price Index. Cplt. ¶ 63.
According to at least one City official, defendants would
reconsider the refuse fee if the State provided more general
funding to New Rochelle. Cplt. ¶ 64. The refuse fee for each improved property is determined on a
yearly basis by multiplying the number of dwelling units on each
tax assessment lot (as shown in the most current tax assessment
roll and records of the City Assessor) by the Per Unit
Residential Refuse Fee set forth in Chapter 133 of the City Code.
Cplt. ¶ 51. The refuse fee is imposed on plaintiffs regardless of
whether or not they actually use defendants' refuse collection
services. Cplt. ¶ 65.
Local Law 13 and Section 133-1 provide that the collection and
enforcement of the residential refuse fee shall be collected and
enforced in the same manner and at the same time as City of New
Rochelle real property taxes. Cplt. ¶ 62. Pursuant to Local Law
13, "If a Residential Refuse Fee including accrued interest
thereon is not fully paid on or before November 30 of the
calendar year for which originally billed, the unpaid amount
shall, pursuant to the procedures set forth in the Section 120-cc
of the General Municipal Law, become a lien as of January 1 of
the next succeeding year and shall accrue additional ...