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33 Seminary LLC v. City of Binghamton

United States District Court, Second Circuit

June 5, 2013

33 SEMINARY LLC, 31 SEMINARY LLC, and 26 SEMINARY AVENUE PROJECT LLC, Plaintiffs,
v.
THE CITY OF BINGHAMTON, MATTHEW T. RYAN, Individually and as Mayor of Binghamton, KENNETH J. FRANK, Individually and as Corporation Counsel of the City of Binghamton, THOMAS COSTELLO, Individually and as Supervisor of Building and Construction and Code Enforcement for the City of Binghamton, DAVID S. CHADWICK, Individually and as Former Supervisor of Building and Construction for the City of Binghamton, KEVIN ESWORTHY, Individually and as former Building Inspector of the City of Binghamton, JOHN STELLA, Individually and as Chairman of the Planning Commission of the City of Binghamton, MARK YOUNG, Individually and as Member of the Planning Commission of the City of Binghamton, MICHELLE O'LOUGHLIN, Individually and as Member of the Planning Commission of the City of Binghamton, ROBERT POMPI, Individually and as Member of the Planning Commission of the City of Binghamton, THOMAS POLLACK, Individually and as Member of the Planning Commission of the City of Binghamton, EARL WALKER, Individually and as Member of the Planning Commission of the City of Binghamton, JAMES WORHACH, Individually and as Member of the Planning Commission of the City of Binghamton, KELLY LIGEIKIS, Individually and as Member of the Planning Commission of the City of Binghamton, JOANN MASTRONARDI, Individually and as Chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals of the City of Binghamton, VLADIMYR GOUIN, Individually and as Member of the Zoning Board of Appeals of the City of Binghamton, DONALD HANRAHAN, Individually and as Member of the Zoning Board of Appeals of the City of Binghamton, CARMAN GARUFI, Individually and as Member of the Zoning Board of Appeals of the City of Binghamton, GERALD O'BRIEN, Individually and as Member of the Zoning Board of Appeals of the City of Binghamton. Defendants.

Brian S. Cohen, Esq. COHEN LAW GROUP, PC. New York, New York, Attorneys for Plaintiffs.

Jeffrey M. Norton, Esq. Randolph M. McLaughlin, Esq. Debra S. Cohen, Esq. NEWMAN FERRARA LLP New York, New York, Attorneys for Plaintiffs.

Daniel B. Berman, Esq. Janet D. Callahan, Esq. HANCOCK ESTABROOK, LLP Syracuse, New York, Attorneys for Defendants.

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

MAE A. D'AGOSTINO, District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiffs, property owners in the City of Binghamton, commenced this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 alleging that defendants violated their rights under the United States Constitution. Presently before the Court is plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. (Dkt. No. 51). Plaintiffs seek an Order declaring Section 410-27 of the City of Binghamton's Zoning Ordinance unconstitutional. Defendants have opposed the motion. (Dkt. No. 56).

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On January 30, 2009, 33 Seminary LLC purchased 31 Seminary Avenue ("31 Seminary"). 31 Seminary is "zoned R-2, Residential One and Two Unit Dwelling District".

On March 16, 2009, the City Council adopted, and Mayor Matthew Ryan subsequently approved, Ordinance 009-009 ("Ordinance") which amended certain sections of Chapter 410 of the Code of the City of Binghamton ("City Code"). Chapter 410 is entitled "Zoning". Article VI refers to Residential Districts. Of relevance herein is Section 410.27(B) which provides:

B. R-2 Residential One- and Two-Unit Dwelling District.
(1) Permitted by right.
(a) Principal uses:
Two-unit residences
(3) Permitted with Planning Commission approval (special use permit and Series A site plan).
(1) Principal uses:
Conversion of dwelling Unit to More than Four Bedrooms

Section 410-5 contains definition of various terms including, inter alia, :

Conversion: The changing of use or occupancy by alteration, addition or by other reorganization.
Dwelling:
A. A building or portion thereof which meets the following criteria:
(1) Designed, used or intended to be used exclusively as year-around and complete living quarters for one family or household.
Dwelling, One-Unit: A building or portion thereof containing no more than one dwelling.
Dwelling, Two-Unit: A building or portion thereof containing no more than two dwellings; a duplex or twin.

Section 410.36 provides:

A. Series A Site Plan approval from the Planning Commission pursuant to 410.39 of this Article VIII is required for all new construction, for all commercial uses, for all special permitted uses, for all principal permitted and accessory uses, for all changes of use, and as required by 410.27 or 410.29 of this Chapter. No building permit shall be issued by the Building Inspector for any use which requires site plan approval except upon authorization of an in conformity with plans approved by the Planning Commission.
B. Exceptions. Notwithstanding Subsection A of this section, no Series A Site Plan approval is required for: (i) single- and two-family dwellings and accessory uses thereto, except as may be required by 410.27 or 410.29 of this Chapter, or (ii) any change of use from one principal permitted or accessory use to another principal permitted or accessory use, including changes of use within a permitted multiple use, e.g. a shopping center, and where no exterior alterations or additions are proposed, provided the Planning Department and Building Inspector determine that the proposed change of use will not have any significant impact on:
1. Traffic volume
2. Site access
3. On-site and off-site parking
4. Internal circulation
5. Neighborhood noise levels
6. Green space (The proposed project will not have created a need for additional landscaping, ...

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