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Pulte Homes of New York, LLC v. Town of Carmel

United States District Court, S.D. New York

September 5, 2017

PULTE HOMES OF NEW YORK, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
TOWN OF CARMEL and TOWN OF CARMEL PLANNING BOARD, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          Vincent L. Briccetti, United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Pulte Homes of New York, LLC (“Pulte”), brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against defendants Town of Carmel (the “Town”) and Town of Carmel Planning Board (the “Planning Board”), alleging defendants violated its constitutional rights to equal protection and procedural and substantive due process, and seeking damages, declaratory relief, and equitable relief.

         Now pending is defendants' motion to dismiss the amended complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). (Doc. #20).

         For the following reasons, the motion is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

         The Court has subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

         BACKGROUND

         In deciding the pending motion, the Court accepts as true all well-pleaded allegations in the amended complaint and draws all reasonable inferences in Pulte's favor.

         Pulte owns approximately one hundred acres of land in the Town of Carmel, divided into three lots: “Lot 3, ” “Lot 4, ” and “Lot 5” (together “the property”). (Am. Compl. ¶ 18).

         On February 3, 2006, the Planning Board “granted final site plan approval” for the property to be developed with a total of 313 “dwelling units.” (Am. Compl. ¶ 22).

         In August 2008, Pulte sought site plan amendments. In October 2008, Pulte was informed it would be required to pay a $3, 500 recreation fee per dwelling unit. (Miranda Decl. Ex. G at 2).[1]

         On October 28, 2008, Pulte paid $385, 000 in recreation fees “under protest” for Lot 4 because had it not made the payment, it “could not have commenced construction on Lot 4 and all development would have ground to a halt.” (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 28-29).

         On November 12, 2008, the Planning Board passed three resolutions adopting Pulte's site plan amendments (the “2008 Resolutions”).

         On January 7, 2009, Pulte initiated an Article 78 proceeding in Supreme Court, Putnam County, challenging the imposition of the recreation fees. By decision and order dated March 15, 2010, the Article 78 court denied the Article 78 petition, finding the “Planning Board's request for recreation fees in accordance with Local Law #4 of 2006 was not arbitrary or capricious.” (Miranda Decl. Ex. G at 4). However, on May 3, 2011, the Appellate Division, Second Department, reversed, concluding “the Planning Board made no ‘individualized consideration' prior to imposing the recreation fee and made no specific findings as to the recreational needs created by the petitioner's improvements.” (Id. Ex. H). The court ordered that the matter to be “remit[ted] . . . to the Planning Board for further consideration as to whether a recreation fee is appropriate, the amount of the fee, if any, and to make the specific findings which support such a fee.” (Id.).

         On June 28, 2012, Pulte applied for additional site plan amendments and sought approvals for Lots 3 and 5. From May through September 2013, the Planning Board held public hearings on Pulte's plans, and by resolutions dated September 27, 2013, it approved the plans and imposed a recreation fee of $3, 500 per unit (the “2013 Resolutions”). On October 18, 2013, Pulte paid the Town $364, 000 for recreation fees on Lots 3 and 5, again “under protest.” (Am. Compl. ¶ 38).

         On October 25, 2013, Pulte commenced a second Article 78 proceeding challenging the recreation fees levied in the the 2013 Resolutions. By decision and order dated March 11, 2014, the Supreme Court, Putnam County, “ORDERED and ADJUDGED that the determination of [the] Planning Board finding that Lots 3 and 5 provide inadequate current and future recreation space, and imposing an imposition of a fee of $3, 500.00 per unit is annulled.” (Miranda Decl. Ex. D at 9). However, the Supreme Court's decision did not direct the Town or Planning Board to refund the recreation fee payments Pulte had already made.

         In March and April 2014, Pulte wrote to defendants to request a refund of the money paid under the now annulled-at least in part-2013 ...


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