Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Alzamora v. Village of Chester

June 27, 2007

RAYMOND ALZAMORA, MICHAEL DUNN AND CREATIVE HOMES INC., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
THE VILLAGE OF CHESTER AND THE PLANNING BOARD OF THE VILLAGE OF CHESTER, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Conner, Senior D.J.

OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiffs Raymond Alzamora, Michael Dunn and Creative Homes Inc.*fn1 bring this action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against the Village of Chester (the "Village")*fn2 and the Planning Board of the Village of Chester (the "Board") alleging a violation of their procedural due process rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Specifically, plaintiffs claim that they received a special use permit to construct a multiple dwelling residential building in the Village intended to be occupied by individuals over the age of fifty-five, and the Board thereafter enacted amendments to the Village Zoning Law that prohibited plaintiffs' planned construction under the permit. They allege that the Board had knowledge that the amendments to the zoning law would prohibit plaintiffs' construction project -- the only pending project in the Village that would have been affected by the change in law -- yet it failed to provide them actual notice of the Village meeting at which the proposed amendments were discussed. Plaintiffs were therefore unable to publicly oppose the enactment of the proposed amendments, and they claim that defendants' failure to notify them of the meeting was a violation of their procedural due process rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment. Defendants now move pursuant to FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6) to dismiss the action in its entirety.*fn3 For the following reasons, defendants' motion is granted.

BACKGROUND

The following facts are taken from plaintiffs' Complaint. Alzamora owns a 2.4 acre tract of land in the Village having access to Main Street, and Dunn owns a 150 by 50 foot parcel of land adjoining Alzamora's property having frontage on Elm Street. (See Complt. ¶¶ 2, 4, 7.) On September 9, 1998, Alzamora and Dunn, through Creative Homes, applied for a special use permit and site plan approval from the Village to construct a thirty-two unit multiple dwelling residential development on Alzamora's property intended for occupancy by individuals over the age of fifty-five (the "Project").*fn4 (See Complt. ¶¶ 2, 7, 15.) The proposed project site was located in a "B-1 zoning district" of the Village which, at the time of plaintiffs' application, allowed for the construction and operation of the Project. (See Complt. ¶ 14.)

Pursuant to the Village Zoning Law, plaintiffs submitted their application to the Board, which, when considering applications, "take[s] into consideration the public health, safety and general welfare" of the public and, in particular, the residents residing near the proposed land use. See Village Zoning Law §§ 98-25(A), 98-24. In deciding applications for special use permits and site plan approvals, the Board may hold public hearings to receive comments from the community, after which it has sixty-two days to render a final decision, and must at all times comply with the provisions of the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act ("SEQRA").*fn5 See id. §§ 98-28(A), (C), 98-25(B), 98-24(H).

With respect to plaintiffs' application, the Board required plaintiffs and their professionals to submit various supplemental documents,*fn6 attend several meetings,*fn7 prepare a 500-page draft Environmental Impact Statement ("EIS")*fn8 and propose a secondary means of access to the site of the Project.*fn9 (See id. ¶¶ 15, 17, 22-26.) On August 22, 2000, the Board held a public hearing regarding the draft EIS and the revised site plan, and it directed plaintiffs to submit a supplemental draft EIS, which they submitted in December 2001. (See id. ¶¶ 27-29.) On January 22, 2002, the Board determined that the application was ready for public comment and held the final meeting on February 26, 2002 at which plaintiffs' professionals reiterated the details of the Project. (See id. ¶¶ 31-34.) After the February meeting, plaintiffs did not agree to, nor did the Board request, any extensions of time to consider the application. (See id. ¶ 36.) The Board continued, however, to request that plaintiffs revise and supplement their application, provide a "final" EIS and attend various meetings and workshops in connection with their application. (See id. ¶¶ 38-40.)

In 2004, during the pendency of plaintiffs' application, the Board made a recommendation to the Village Board of Trustees (the "Trustees") to amend the Village Zoning Law to reduce the allowable density for senior citizens projects by increasing the minimum lot size to three acres and limiting the number of units to a maximum of nine per acre. (See id. ¶ 41.) The Trustees scheduled a public hearing on November 8, 2004 to discuss the proposed amendments, which, if enacted, would have disallowed the construction of plaintiffs' Project, as it entailed thirty-two units on a 2.4 acre parcel of land. (See id. ¶ 45.) Although the Board had knowledge of plaintiffs' names and addresses, it did not inform plaintiffs of its recommendation to the Trustees, and public notice of the hearing was given only by means of a single publication in the local newspaper. (See id. ¶¶ 44, 46-48.) Consequently, plaintiffs did not attend the meeting and were unable to oppose the enactment of the proposed amendments. (See id. ¶ 49.) At the hearing, the Village Mayor indicated that the proposed changes, if enacted, would impact plaintiffs' pending application. (See id. ¶ 50.) The Trustees ultimately adopted the Board's proposed amendments as "Local Law No. 5 of 2004." (See id. ¶ 52.)

Similarly, in 2005, the Board recommended to the Trustees that the Village Zoning Law be further amended to extend the requirements of Local Law No. 5 of 2004 to all multiple dwelling projects and not just those for senior citizens. (See id. ¶¶ 55, 57.) The Trustees scheduled a public hearing on August 8, 2005 to discuss the enactment of the proposed amendment. (See id. ¶ 58.) As with Local Law No. 5 of 2004, public notice of the hearing was given only once by means of a single publication appearing in the local newspaper. (See id. ¶¶ 59-60.) Plaintiffs were unaware of the meeting and did not attend. (See id. ¶ 61.) At the close of the public hearing, the Trustees adopted the Board's proposed amendment as "Local Law No. 2 of 2005." (See id. ¶ 63.)

Plaintiffs did not learn of the Local Law No. 5 of 2004 until July 6, 2006 when, at a workshop regarding plaintiffs' application, the Board advised plaintiffs' professionals of its enactment and asked whether the Project would comply with its reduced density requirements. (See id. ¶¶ 54, 66-67.) On July 7, 2007, plaintiffs' professionals informed the Board's attorney by letter that the Project did not conform with Local Law No. 5 and that plaintiffs would therefore propose to operate a regular adult community to avoid the new requirements, which they believed applied only to senior citizen projects. (See id. ¶ 69.) In addition, plaintiffs' professionals urged the Board to issue the special use permit, particularly in light of the fact that, in their opinion, plaintiffs' application was deemed granted by virtue of Village Zoning Law § 98-25(D), which provides:

Failure of the Planning Board to take action on a special permitted use within sixty-two [] days of the public hearing shall be construed as approval of such use by the Planning Board; provided, however, that the time within which the Planning Board must render its decision may be extended by mutual consent of the applicant and the Planning Board. (See id. ¶ 70.) Although the public hearing was held on February 26, 2002, the Board had not yet rendered a decision with respect to plaintiffs' application. (See id. ¶¶ 37, 40.)

On July 18, 2006, the Board's attorney sent plaintiffs' professionals a letter notifying them of the enactment of Local Law No. 2 of 2005, which would prohibit plaintiffs' Project even if it were operated as an adult community, and opined that the default provision of Village Zoning Law § 98-25(D) was not applicable. (See id. ¶¶ 65, 71.) Thereafter, plaintiffs' professionals attended a regular meeting of the Board on July 25, 2006 and advised the Board that the Project could not meet the requirements of either Local Law No. 5 of 2004 or Local Law No. 2 of 2005. (See id. ¶ 74.) Plaintiffs' professionals again requested the Board to nevertheless grant plaintiffs' application, and the Board refused. (See id. ¶¶ 75-76.) Finally, plaintiffs' professionals presented a written demand upon the Secretary of the Board demanding that she advise the Village Building Inspector that the special use permit for the Project was deemed approved by reason of the Board's failure to approve or disapprove the application within sixty-two days of the February 26, 2002 hearing. (See id. ¶ 77.) The Secretary's attorney, by letter dated August 2, 2006, declined to do so, and this lawsuit ensued. (See id. ¶ 78.)

DISCUSSION

I. Legal Standard

When ruling on a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the Court must accept all of the well-pleaded facts as true and consider those facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. See Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974); Hertz Corp. v. City of New York, 1 F.3d 121, 125 (2d Cir. 1993); In re AES Corp. Sec. Litig., 825 F. Supp. 578, 583 (S.D.N.Y. 1993) (Conner, J.). On such a motion, the issue is "whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claims." Scheuer, 416 U.S. at 236. A complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim "'unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief.'" Padavan v. United States, 82 F.3d 23, 26 (2d Cir. 1996) (quoting Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 10 (1980)). However, allegations that are so conclusory ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.