D. Haberman, New City, NY, for appellant.
Michael L. Klein, Town Attorney, Suffern, NY (Michael Specht
and Beth B. Finkelstein of counsel), for respondents.
C. DILLON, J.P., ROBERT J. MILLER, SYLVIA O. HINDS-RADIX,
FRANCESCA E. CONNOLLY, JJ.
DECISION & ORDER
action for a judgment declaring that certain real property
owned by the plaintiff in the Town of Ramapo is exempt from
real property taxes as of March 1, 2012, the plaintiff
appeals from an order of the Supreme Court, Rockland County
(Garvey, J.), dated July 15, 2014, which granted the
defendants' motion for summary judgment, in effect,
declaring that the subject property is not exempt from real
property taxes as of March 1, 2012.
that the order is affirmed, with costs, and the matter is
remitted to the Supreme Court, Rockland County, for the entry
of a judgment declaring that the subject real property is not
exempt from real property taxes as of March 1, 2012.
plaintiff is a religious not-for-profit corporation that
holds title to real property in Monsey, in the Town of
Ramapo. The property's certificate of occupancy, issued
July 12, 1954, permits it to be used as a "one family
dwelling." From 2008 to 2011, the plaintiff obtained
real property tax exemptions on the basis of religious use.
In February 2012, the plaintiff submitted a renewal
application for its real property tax exemption for the
2012/2013 tax year, representing that no changes had been
made to the property's ownership or use since its last
tax exemption application. The plaintiff's application
was denied, and the Town Assessor issued a tax assessment for
the property. After the plaintiff exhausted its
administrative remedies, it commenced this action against the
defendants Town of Ramapo, the Assessor of the Town of
Ramapo, and the Board of Assessment Review of the Town of
Ramapo (hereinafter collectively the defendants) for a
judgment declaring that the property is exempt from real
property taxes as of March 1, 2012. The defendants moved for
summary judgment, in effect, declaring that the property is
not entitled to the requested exemption. The Supreme Court
granted the motion, and the plaintiff appeals. We affirm.
property owned by a corporation or association organized or
conducted exclusively for religious, charitable, hospital,
educational, or moral or mental improvement of men, women or
children purposes... and used exclusively for carrying out
thereupon one or more of such purposes... shall be exempt
from taxation as provided in this section" (RPTL
420-a[a]). "In order for an entity to be entitled to
this tax exemption, (1) the entity must be organized
exclusively for purposes enumerated in the statute, (2) the
property in question must be used primarily for the
furtherance of such purposes, ... (3) no pecuniary profit,
apart from reasonable compensation, may inure to the benefit
of any officers, members, or employees, and (4) the entity
may not be simply used as a guise for profit-making
operations" (Matter of Miriam Osborn Mem'l Home
Ass'n v Assessor of City of Rye, 275 A.D.2d 714,
715; see Matter of Mount Tremper Lutheran Camp v Board of
Assessors of Town of Shandaken, 70 A.D.2d 984, 985).
However, even where an entity otherwise meets the foregoing
test, such entity's "use of [its] premises in
violation of [the local] zoning law prohibit[s] it from
receiving a property tax exemption pursuant to RPTL
420-a" (Congregation Or Yosef v Town of Ramapo,
48 A.D.3d 731, 732; see Matter of Oxford Group-Moral
Re-Armament, MRA, Inc. v Sweet, 309 NY 744).
the defendants established their prima facie entitlement to
judgment as a matter of law by demonstrating that the
plaintiff's use of the property violated the Town zoning
law, thereby prohibiting the plaintiff from receiving a real
property tax exemption pursuant to RPTL 420-a (see
Zuckerman v City of New York, 49 N.Y.2d 557, 562). The
defendants' proof established that the plaintiffs had
illegally erected two trailers on the property without
obtaining the proper permits and, during the relevant time
period, used the primary structure on the property as a
dormitory and living quarters for over 20 students in
contravention of its certificate of occupancy (see
Congregation Or Yosef v Town of Ramapo, 48 A.D.3d at
732; cf. Community Humanitarian Assn., Inc. v Town of
Ramapo, 137 A.D.3d 736, 738). In opposition, the
plaintiff failed to raise a triable issue of fact (see
Zuckerman v City of New York, 49 N.Y.2d at 562).
the Supreme Court properly granted the defendants' motion
for summary judgment, in effect, declaring that the plaintiff
is not entitled to the requested real property tax exemption.
this is a declaratory judgment action, we remit the matter to
the Supreme Court, Rockland County, for the entry of a
judgment declaring that the subject real property is ...