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.

In re Green Earth Farms Rockland, LLC

Supreme Court of New York, Second Department

August 23, 2017

In the Matter of Green Earth Farms Rockland, LLC, et al., respondents,
v.
Town of Haverstraw Planning Board, et al., appellants. Index No. 2465/12

          Argued-May 8, 2017

         D53267 G/htr

          Silverberg Zalantis, LLP, Tarrytown, NY (Steven M. Silverberg, Katharine Zalantis, and Christie Tomm Addona of counsel), for appellants Town of Haverstraw Planning Board and Town of Haverstraw Building Department, and Freeman & Loftus, RLLP, New City, NY (Ira M. Emanuel of counsel), for respondent Mt. Ivy Partners, Inc. (one brief filed).

          Mary Lou Chatterton, Goshen, NY, for respondents.

          MARK C. DILLON, J.P. JEFFREY A. COHEN COLLEEN D. DUFFY FRANCESCA CONNOLLY, JJ.

          DECISION & ORDER

         Appeal from a judgment of the Supreme Court, Rockland County (Victor J. Alfieri, Jr., J.), dated October 15, 2014. The judgment, insofar as appealed from, (1) granted a petition filed pursuant to CPLR article 78 challenging the approval of a development project, (2), in effect, annulled a determination that a second Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement was not required, (3) annulled a site plan approval, and (4) remitted the matter to the respondent Town of Haverstraw Planning Board for further proceedings.

         ORDERED that the appeal by the Town of Haverstraw Building Department is dismissed, as that party is not aggrieved by the judgment appealed from (see CPLR 5511); and it is further, ORDERED that on the appeal by the Town of Haverstraw Planning Board and Mt. Ivy Partners, Inc., the judgment is modified, on the law, (1) by adding to the first decretal paragraph thereof, after the phrase "the petition is granted, " the words "insofar as asserted by the petitioners Paint'n Place, Inc., Parkway Realty Corp., Good Counsel Realty Ltd., and 202 United Development Corp., " and (2) by adding a decretal paragraph thereto dismissing the petition insofar as asserted by the petitioner John McDowell; as so modified, the judgment is affirmed insofar as appealed from by the Town of Haverstraw Planning Board and Mt. Ivy Partners, Inc., with costs payable to the petitioners.

         In 2004, a developer, Davies Farm, LLC (hereinafter Davies Farm), applied for site plan approval and a zoning amendment in connection with proposed residential and commercial development of a 53.3-acre parcel of land located in the adjacent towns of Haverstraw and Ramapo (hereinafter the proposed development plan). In April 2005, the Town of Haverstraw Planning Board (hereinafter the Planning Board), as the lead agency under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (ECL art 8; hereinafter SEQRA), issued a positive declaration regarding the application for the proposed development plan and required the preparation of a draft environmental impact statement (hereinafter DEIS). After the DEIS was submitted in 2006, Davies Farm changed the proposed development plan by eliminating the proposed residential development in the Town of Haverstraw to avoid the need for a zoning amendment (hereinafter the supplemental proposed development plan). In response, the Planning Board required a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (hereinafter SEIS) as to the supplemental proposed development plan. In November 2009, the Planning Board accepted a final SEIS and, pursuant to SEQRA, adopted a findings statement certifying that the approved supplemental proposed development plan minimized or avoided adverse environmental impacts to the maximum extent practicable. The supplemental proposed development plan at that time consisted of proposed commercial development in the Town of Haverstraw (hereinafter the Haverstraw commercial phase) and a mix of residential and commercial uses, including "a deli/coffee shop" in the Town of Ramapo (hereinafter, respectively, the Ramapo residential phase and the Ramapo commercial phase).

         In January 2012, the property's new owner, Mt. Ivy Partners, LLC (hereinafter Mt. Ivy), applied to the Planning Board for preliminary and final site plan approval for the Haverstraw and Ramapo commercial phases of the project. However, Mt. Ivy's proposed Ramapo commercial phase was changed to include a deli/coffee shop with gas pumps in the Town of Ramapo, and the site plan depicted a 7, 000-square-foot convenience store with 16 gas pumps. After soliciting comments from the public, consultants, and other agencies, the Planning Board issued a resolution dated November 28, 2012, determining that a second SEIS was not required. The Planning Board granted the requested preliminary and final site plan approval subj ect to certain conditions, requiring Mt. Ivy, among other things, to obtain all required approvals from the Town of Ramapo and the Rockland County Department of Health. The resolution did not mention the proposed gas station.

         The petitioners, most of whom are owners of properties near the site of the supplemental proposed development plan, commenced this proceeding pursuant to CPLR article 78 against the Planning Board, Mt. Ivy, and the Town of Haverstraw Building Department (hereinafter the Building Department). The petition sought review of the Planning Board's determination finding that the preparation of a second SEIS was not warranted and granting the application for site plan approval. In the judgment appealed from, the Supreme Court determined that all the petitioners had standing under SEQRA to challenge the Planning Board's determination. Further, the court determined that the Planning Board failed to take the requisite "hard look" at the change in the proposed development from a deli/coffee shop to a large convenience store with 16 gas pumps. Accordingly, the court granted the petition, in effect, annulled the SEQRA determination, annulled the site plan approval, and remitted the matter to the Planning Board for the preparation of a second SEIS, in effect, limited to examining whether there were significant adverse environmental impacts arising from the proposed construction of the gas station. Mt. Ivy, the Planning Board, and the Building Department appeal.

         As an initial matter, in the judgment appealed from, the Supreme Court, in effect, dismissed the petition insofar as asserted against the Building Department. Accordingly, the Building Department is not aggrieved by the judgment, and the appeal by the Building Department must be dismissed.

         With respect to the issue of standing, "[t]o establish standing under SEQRA, a petitioner must show (1) an environmental injury that is in some way different from that of the public at large, and (2) that the alleged injury falls within the zone of interests sought to be protected or promoted by SEQRA" (Matter of Tuxedo Land Trust, Inc. v Town Bd. of Town of Tuxedo, 112 A.D.3d 726, 727-728; see Society of Plastics Indus. v County of Suffolk, 77 N.Y.2d 761, 772-775; Matter of Village of Chestnut Ridge v Town of Ramapo, 45 A.D.3d 74, 89-90). "An injury in fact may be inferred from a showing of close proximity of the petitioner's property to the proposed development" (Matter of Tuxedo Land Trust, Inc. v Town Bd. of Town of Tuxedo, 112 A.D.3d at 728; see Matter of Gernatt Asphalt Prods. v Town of Sardinia, 87 N.Y.2d 668, 687; Matter of Sun-Brite Car Wash v Board of Zoning & Appeals of Town of N. Hempstead, 69 N.Y.2d 406, 414). Since the petitioners Paint'n Place, Inc. (hereinafter Paint'n Place), Parkway Realty Corp. (hereinafter Parkway), Good Counsel Realty Ltd. (hereinafter Good Counsel), and 202 United Development Corp. (hereinafter 202 United) own or lease properties immediately across the street from, and within 500 feet of, the site of the proposed development, the Supreme Court properly inferred an injury in fact from the close proximity of those petitioners' properties to the proposed development (see Matter of Sun-Brite Car Wash v Board of Zoning & Appeals of Town of N. Hempstead, 69N.Y.2d at 414; Citizens for St. Patrick's v City of Water v liet City Council, 126 A.D.3d 1159, 1160; Matter of Village of Chestnut Ridge v Town of Ramapo, 45 A.D.3d at 90; Matter of McGrath v Town Bd. of Town of N. Greenbush, 254 A.D.2d 614, 616). Moreover, those petitioners alleged environmental harm that comes within the zone of interests protected by SEQRA (see Matter of Bloodgood v Town of Huntington, 58 A.D.3d 619, 621; Matter of McGrath v Town Bd. of Town of N. Greenbush, 254 A.D.2d at 616). Thus, the petitioners Paint'n Place, Parkway, Good Counsel, and 202 United have standing to challenge the Town Board's SEQRA determination.

         However, the appellants correctly contend that the petitioner John McDowell, who lives more than 2, 000 feet from the site of the proposed development, does "not live close enough to the site to be afforded a presumption of injury-in-fact based on proximity alone" (Matter of Riverhead Neighborhood Preserv. Coalition, Inc. v Town of Riverhead Town Bd., 112 A.D.3d 944, 945; see Matter of O 'Brien v New York State Commr. of Educ., 112 A.D.3d 188, 193-194; Matter of Barrett v Dutchess County Legislature, 38 A.D.3d 651, 653). Further, the petitioners failed to demonstrate that the proposed development would cause McDowell to suffer an environmental injury different from that of members of the public at large (see Matter of Riverhead Neighborhood Preser v. Coalition, Inc. v Town of Riverhead Town Bd., 112 A.D.3d at 945; Matter of Barrett v Dutchess County Legislature, 38 A.D.3d at 654). Accordingly, the Supreme Court should have dismissed the petition insofar as asserted by McDowell (see Matter of Long Is. Contractors' Assn. v Town of Riverhead, 17 A.D.3d 590, 595).

         With respect to the Planning Board's SEQRA determination, "[j]udicial review of a lead agency's SEQRA determination is limited to whether the determination was made in accordance with lawful procedure and whether, substantively, the determination was affected by an error of law or was arbitrary and capricious or an abuse of discretion" (Matter of Chinese Staff & Workers 'Assn. V Burden,19 N.Y.3d 922, 924 [internal quotation marks omitted]). "In assessing an agency's compliance with the substantive mandates of the statute, courts must review the record to determine whether the agency identified the relevant areas of environmental concern, took a hard look at them, and made a reasoned elaboration of the basis for its determination" (id. at 924 [internal quotation marks omitted]; see Matter of Riverkeeper, Inc. v Planning Bd. of Town of Southeast,9 N.Y.3d 219, 231-232; Matter of Jackson v New York State Urban Dev. Corp.,67 N.Y.2d 400, 417). "This standard of review applies to a lead agency's ...


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.