Land Use & Zoning

Monday, December 2, 2013

Cluster zoning: A valuable tool in a changing market

By John Harras

The end of Long Island’s post-war land rush is in sight. Long Island regional planners estimate that “total build-out” is only 16 years away. To make matters worse, desirable tracts available for residential development are increasingly being targeted by heavily funded public “open space” acquisition programs.

As a consequence, developers are re-visiting parcels that, in the past, were deemed too difficult or expensive to develop because of steep slopes, wetlands, an odd configuration, troublesome easements or other problematic features. Informed developers who understand the cluster development provisions of Section 278 of the Town Law will have a significant advantage in locating overlooked properties that can be developed at higher densities and, in some cases, less expensively than previously thought.

Read more here.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Beware of the Zoning Adjudicatory Board: prepare to fight back if summoned to appear before one

By John Harras

In the never-ending quest to gain more control over the enforcement of local laws and regulations, towns, villages and other municipalities often succumb to the temptation of creating their own adjudicatory board to hear and assess fines for zoning code and other violations. Why litigate misdemeanors and violations before an independent judiciary governed by strict rules of evidence and the troublesome reasonable doubt standard when, upon the creation of an adjudicatory bureau, a municipally- employed hearing officer can hear violations and impose massive “civil” fines supported by evidence barely meeting the preponderance of evidence standard? The short answer is that the local adjudicatory board, with its allure of municipal control and efficiency, is generally unlawful under New York law, and almost always deprives property owners of due process protections.

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