In the Matter of Haverstraw Owners Professionals and Entrepreneurs ("H.O.P.E."), et al., appellants,
Town of Ramapo Zoning Board of Appeals, by its Chairperson Charlene Weaver, respondent; Mt. Ivy Partners, LLC, nonparty-respondent. Index No. 3/13
Stepanovich Law, PLC, Nanuet, NY (Stephen Cole-Hatchard of
counsel), for appellants.
Michael Klein, Town Attorney, Suffern, NY (Michael Specht of
counsel), for respondent, and Freeman & Loftus, RLLP, New
City, NY (Ira M. Emanuel of counsel), for nonparty-respondent
(one brief filed).
C. DILLON, J.P., JEFFREY A. COHEN, COLLEEN D. DUFFY,
FRANCESCA E. CONNOLLY, JJ.
DECISION & ORDER
proceeding pursuant to CPLR article 78 to review a
determination of the Town of Ramapo Zoning Board of Appeals
dated October 25, 2012, which, after a hearing, granted the
application of Mt. Ivy Partners, LLC, for several area
variances, the petitioners appeal from a judgment of the
Supreme Court, Rockland County (Loehr, J.), dated March 31,
2015, which denied the petition and dismissed the proceeding.
that the judgment is affirmed, with costs.
public meeting held on October 25, 2012, the Town of Ramapo
Zoning Board of Appeals (hereinafter the Board), after two
public hearings, adopted a resolution granting the
application of Mt. Ivy Partners, LLC (hereinafter Mt. Ivy),
for several area variances. Thereafter, the petitioners
commenced this proceeding pursuant to CPLR article 78 to
review the determination, alleging that because there was no
public discussion, deliberation, or consideration by the
Board at the meeting before it adopted the proposed
resolution, the Board violated the Open Meetings Law
(see Public Officers Law § 100 et
Supreme Court properly denied the petition and dismissed the
proceeding. "In enacting the Open Meetings Law, the
Legislature sought to ensure that public business be
performed in an open and public manner and that the citizens
of this state be fully aware of and able to observe the
performance of public officials and attend and listen to the
deliberations and decisions that go into the making of public
policy'" (Matter of Perez v City Univ. of
N.Y., 5 N.Y.3d 522, 528, quoting Public Officers Law
§ 100). The term "Meeting" is defined as
"the official convening of a public body for the purpose
of conducting public business" (Public Officers Law
§ 102). "The statute does not apply only to
formal or regular meetings, but to any gathering or meeting
of a quorum of a public body for the purpose of transacting
public business" (Matter of Tri-Village Publs. v St.
Johnsville Bd. of Educ., 110 A.D.2d 932, 933;
see Public Officers Law § 102).
petitioners failed to satisfy their burden of establishing
that the Board violated the Open Meetings Law in adopting the
October 25, 2012, resolution granting Mt. Ivy's
application for area variances (see Matter of Halperin v
City of New Rochelle,24 A.D.3d 768, 777; Matter of
Ramapo Homeowners Assn. v Town of Ramapo,2 A.D.3d 529;
Mobil Oil Corp. v City of Syracuse Indus. Dev.
Agency,224 A.D.2d 15, 30). The Board conducted two
public hearings on the subject of the area variances. Between
the close of the public hearing and the next public meeting
at which the subject determination was made, the Board's
counsel prepared a draft written determination. At the public
meeting on October 25, the Board considered the proposed
draft and ultimately made a determination. The petitioners do
not allege or present any evidence that a quorum met or
consulted with its counsel outside of a public meeting, or
that these discussions, if any, were part of an effort to
thwart public scrutiny of their process in deliberate
violation of the Open Meetings Law (see Matter of MCI
Telecom. Corp. v Public Serv. Commn. of State of N.Y.,231 A.D.2d 284, 290-291; Mobil Oil Corp. v City of
Syracuse Indus. Dev. Agency, 224 A.D.2d at 30).
Accordingly, no ...