Moriarty v. Planning Bd. of Village of Sloatsburg

CourtNew York Supreme Court — Appellate Division
Writing for the CourtBefore LAZER; LAZER
Citation119 A.D.2d 188,506 N.Y.S.2d 184
Decision Date02 September 1986
PartiesDaniel MORIARTY, Appellant, v. The PLANNING BOARD OF the VILLAGE OF SLOATSBURG, Respondent.

Page 184

506 N.Y.S.2d 184
119 A.D.2d 188
Daniel MORIARTY, Appellant,
v.
The PLANNING BOARD OF the VILLAGE OF SLOATSBURG, Respondent.
Supreme Court, Appellate Division,
Second Department.
Sept. 2, 1986.

Coral Ortenberg Mayer Zeck & Prier, P.C., Suffern (J. Martin Cornell and Reuben Ortenberg, of counsel), for appellant.

Terry Rice, Suffern, for respondent.

Before LAZER, J.P. and THOMPSON, RUBIN and KUNZEMAN, JJ.

Page 185

LAZER, Justice Presiding.

The question is whether site plan approval may be denied by a village planning board on the ground that fire protection will be inadequate because the closest fire hydrants are too distant from the site. We conclude that rejection on such a ground exceeds the site plan review powers of a village planning board.

The property involved is a vacant parcel of industrially zoned land in the Village of Sloatsburg upon which the owner proposes to erect a metal fabricating plant. Since the Sloatsburg zoning ordinance makes site plan approval by the planning board a prerequisite to the issuance of a building permit for such a use (Village of Sloatsburg Zoning Ordinance §§ 54-48 [E]; 54-50), denial of approval is tantamount to denial of a building permit.

At the last of the planning board's several hearings relative to site plan approval for the parcel, the availability of fire protection emerged as the principal issue. The village fire chief and other fire officials declared that the nearest fire hydrant was 4,000 feet from the property, that if a fire did occur the assistance of four other local fire departments would be necessary, and a delay of 17 minutes would take place before water could be brought to the site. The owner's offer to install a 10,000 gallon water tank to permit the Sloatsburg Fire Department to contain a fire until assistance arrived was met with the fire officials' contention that even two such tanks would be insufficient. On the basis of these concerns, the planning board denied the owner's application for site plan approval.

In dismissing the proceeding for CPLR article 78 relief that followed, Special Term ruled that the planning board had acted reasonably in finding that the lack of an adequate water supply for fire protection warranted disapproval of the application. We view the issue differently; the question is not the reasonableness of the action but whether the planning board had the power to deny site plan approval because of the excessive distance to the nearest water supply available for fire protection purposes. The answer to that question implicates both the nature of site plan review and how it interconnects with the municipal police power to regulate and restrict the use and development of real property.

A site plan is different from a subdivision plat because it usually involves the proposed development of a single lot intended to remain as such (2 Rathkopf, Zoning and Planning § 30.04[1] pp. 30-13 [4th ed.] ), while a subdivision plat involves the division of a parcel into multiple lots (Riegert Apts. Corp. v. Planning Bd. of Town of Clarkstown, 57 N.Y.2d 206, 455 N.Y.S.2d 558, 441 N.E.2d 1076). " 'A site plan is a plan required to be submitted by the builder, showing the proposed location of the buildings, parking areas, and other installations on the plot, and their relation to existing conditions, such as roads, neighboring land uses, natural features, public facilities, ingress and egress roads, interior roads, and similar features' " (Riegert Apts. Corp. v. Planning Bd. of Town of Clarkstown, supra, at p. 211, 455 N.Y.S.2d 558, 441 N.E.2d 1076 quoting from 2 Rathkopf, The Law of Zoning and Planning § 30.04[1], pp. 30-13 to 30-14; see also, Matter of Gershowitz v. Planning Bd. of Town of Brookhaven, 69 A.D.2d 460, 473-474, 419 N.Y.S.2d 976, revd. on other grounds 52 N.Y.2d 763, 436 N.Y.S.2d 612, 417 N.E.2d 1000). In essence, a site plan shows the proposed design and layout of the improvements to be placed on a parcel.

Site plan review is relatively new among the panoply of land regulatory devices and its emergence seems to be a consequence of the surge of land development that commenced in the 1950's. As the surge continued, the amount of land available for development diminished, the number of subdivisions declined, construction of shopping centers, office buildings and industrial structures burgeoned and complex multi-use development of single parcels increased (see, 1A Antieau, Municipal Corporation Law § 8A.28 [1986] ). While the increased focus upon site plan review as a means of regulating and improving land use development (see, Cunningham, Stoebuck & Whitman,

Page 186

The Law of Property, § 9.15 [1984]; Mandelker, Land Use Law § 6.63 [1982]; 2 Williams, American Land Planning Law § 152.01 [1985] ) undoubtedly has many origins, its most likely sources seem to have been the vast expansion of public interest in environmental and aesthetic considerations, the need to increase the attractiveness of commercial and industrial areas in order to invite economic investment, and the traditional impulse for controls that might preserve the character and value of neighboring residential areas.

The grant of power to authorize administrative bodies to review site plans and thereby to compel alteration of the plans represents a substantial increase in the municipal police power over the use and development of land. Site plan review permits municipalities to regulate the development and improvement of individual parcels in a manner not covered under the usual provisions of building and zoning codes which establish specific standards for construction of buildings, provide for specific limitations on use, and fix definite numerical criteria for density, building set backs and frontage and height requirements. Euclidian zoning concepts mandate that such zoning requirements be equally binding on all property in a particular zoning classification (see, Village of Euclid v. Ambler Realty Corp., 272 U.S. 365, 47 S.Ct. 114, 71 L.Ed. 303). Since site plan review standards are almost entirely unsusceptible to being fixed in numerical terms, the power is always delegated in general, almost vague language that ultimately furnishes the municipal planning agency with the authority to impose restrictions that are more onerous than those contained in building and zoning codes and which differ from lot to lot.

From the outset, municipal planning boards have been regarded as the appropriate agencies to conduct site plan review. This relatively new function thus supplements the more traditional planning board roles of subdivision plat approval, the adoption of master plans and the rendering of advice to local governing bodies concerning proposed zoning changes (see, Yokley, The Place of the Planning Commission and the Board of Zoning Appeals in Community Life, 8 Vanderbilt L.Rev. 794). In this State, the initial conflicts involving site plan review concerned the nature of the function and the jurisdiction to conduct it. Although planning texts of the 1960's and early 1970's sometimes used the terms subdivision regulation and site plan review interchangably or failed to mention site plan review at all (see, e.g., Claire, Handbook on Urban Planning [1973]; Delafons, Land Use Controls in the United States [1962]; Goodman & Kaufman, City Planning in the Sixties [1965] ), by 1962 New York courts were confronted with issues concerning the nature of site plan review and its relationship to the established concept of subdivision regulation. In that year, this court held that subdivision plat approval and site plan approval were two different concepts and therefore a planning board could approve a site plan without a public hearing, even though the statute authorizing subdivision approval required such a hearing (see, Matter of Cedar Lane Hgts. Corp. v. Marotta, 17 A.D.2d 651, 230 N.Y.S.2d 655). Although Cedar Lane did not address the genesis of planning board power to pass upon site plans, we subsequently held that the authority for site plan review derived from a statute that authorized that matters be referred to a planning board for advisory purposes (see, Matter of Thurman v. Snowden, 28 A.D.2d 705, 280 N.Y.S.2d 945) and, pursuant to that theory, we declared in dictum that still survives, that the only power a town board could delegate to a planning board with respect to site plan review was the power to make advisory recommendations, not the power to grant or deny approval (see, Nemeroff Realty Corp. v. Kerr, 38 A.D.2d 437, 330 N.Y.S.2d 632, affd. 32 N.Y.2d 873, 346 N.Y.S.2d 532, 299 N.E.2d 897).

Shortly after Nemeroff was decided in 1972, the Legislature granted explicit authority to several municipalities to delegate final site plan approval power to planning boards (see, L. 1974, ch. 788 [municipalities in Westchester County]; L. 1974, ch. 787

Page 187

[Town of Clarkstown]; L. 1975, ch. 235 [Town of Orangetown]; L. 1975, ch. 236 [Town of Ramapo] ). To permit other municipalities to delegate the power and to eliminate various mechanisms local authorities had employed to effectuate the delegation (see, Holmes v. Planning Bd. of Town of New Castle, 78 A.D.2d 1, 12, 433 N.Y.S.2d 587), the Legislature subsequently repealed the piecemeal legislation and granted all cities, towns and villages identical authority to delegate site plan approval power to planning boards (L. 1976, ch. 272; General City Law § 30-a; Town Law § 274-a; Village Law § 7-725). While the power to conduct site plan review was one that local legislative bodies possessed before the enabling legislation was enacted (see, Matter of Pittsford Plaza Assoc. v. Spiegel, 66 N.Y.2d 717, 496 N.Y.S.2d 992, 487 N.E.2d 902), it was the enabling legislation...

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  • Omnipoint Communications v. City of White Plains, No. 01 Civ. 3285(CM).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • December 4, 2001
    ...statement in a zoning ordinance is a valid factor in the board's determination); Moriarty v. Planning Bd. of Village of Sloatsburg, 119 A.D.2d 188, 198, 506 N.Y.S.2d 184, 190 (N.Y.App.Div.1986), lv. denied 69 N.Y.2d 603, 512 N.Y.S.2d 1026, 504 N.E.2d 396 (1987) (finding that a general purpo......
  • Petruso v. Schlaefer, No. CV 06 2632.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • February 14, 2007
    ...any pre-emptive action to prevent any impending civil rights violation of the BZA. See Moriarty v. Planning Bd. of Village of Sloatsburg, 119 A.D.2d 188, 506 N.Y.S.2d 184 (2d Dep't.1986) (village board is without power to consider appeal from grant of a permit); 113 Hillside Avenue Corp. v.......
  • Bovee v. Town of Hadley Planning Bd., 525388
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court Appellate Division
    • April 5, 2018
    ...controls that might preserve the character and value of neighboring residential areas" ( Moriarty v. Planning Bd. of Vil. of Sloatsburg, 119 A.D.2d 188, 190, 506 N.Y.S.2d 184 [1986], lv denied 69 N.Y.2d 603, 512 N.Y.S.2d 1026, 504 N.E.2d 396 [1987] ). Site plan review furthers those ends by......
  • Burrell v. Lake County Plan Com'n, No. 45A05-9209-CV-339
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • December 7, 1993
    ...delegate discretion unlimited by legislative standards); Moriarty v. Planning Board of the Village of Sloatsburg (1986), N.Y.App.Div., 119 A.D.2d 188, 506 N.Y.S.2d 184 (the health, safety, and general welfare provision is limited by the specific factors a planning board may consider with re......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
25 cases
  • Omnipoint Communications v. City of White Plains, No. 01 Civ. 3285(CM).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • December 4, 2001
    ...statement in a zoning ordinance is a valid factor in the board's determination); Moriarty v. Planning Bd. of Village of Sloatsburg, 119 A.D.2d 188, 198, 506 N.Y.S.2d 184, 190 (N.Y.App.Div.1986), lv. denied 69 N.Y.2d 603, 512 N.Y.S.2d 1026, 504 N.E.2d 396 (1987) (finding that a general purpo......
  • Petruso v. Schlaefer, No. CV 06 2632.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • February 14, 2007
    ...any pre-emptive action to prevent any impending civil rights violation of the BZA. See Moriarty v. Planning Bd. of Village of Sloatsburg, 119 A.D.2d 188, 506 N.Y.S.2d 184 (2d Dep't.1986) (village board is without power to consider appeal from grant of a permit); 113 Hillside Avenue Corp. v.......
  • Bovee v. Town of Hadley Planning Bd., 525388
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court Appellate Division
    • April 5, 2018
    ...controls that might preserve the character and value of neighboring residential areas" ( Moriarty v. Planning Bd. of Vil. of Sloatsburg, 119 A.D.2d 188, 190, 506 N.Y.S.2d 184 [1986], lv denied 69 N.Y.2d 603, 512 N.Y.S.2d 1026, 504 N.E.2d 396 [1987] ). Site plan review furthers those ends by......
  • Burrell v. Lake County Plan Com'n, No. 45A05-9209-CV-339
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • December 7, 1993
    ...delegate discretion unlimited by legislative standards); Moriarty v. Planning Board of the Village of Sloatsburg (1986), N.Y.App.Div., 119 A.D.2d 188, 506 N.Y.S.2d 184 (the health, safety, and general welfare provision is limited by the specific factors a planning board may consider with re......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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