Tagged: Entitlements

New York Appellate Court Allows Top Floors of Upper West Side Condo Building to Remain

The New York City development community was alarmed by a trial court decision in February of last year that would have required removal of the top floors of a 55-story condominium building under construction at 200 Amsterdam Avenue on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. On appeal, the Appellate Division, First Department, issued a decision in early March reversing the trial court, which means that, absent any further appeal, the building can be completed and the condominium units offered for sale. The case, In the Matter of Committee for Environmentally Sound Development v. Amsterdam Avenue Redevelopment Associates LLC, 2021 NY Slip Op. 01228 (“Amsterdam Avenue”), serves as a high-profile, high-stakes reminder of the importance of two well-settled principles of New York zoning law: Administrative agencies like planning and zoning boards, which are charged with administering technical regulations with which they have substantial experience and technical expertise, are entitled to substantial deference and cannot disregard past precedent without good reason, such as differences in facts or changed circumstances; A party seeking to overturn a permit or approval must avail itself of all opportunities to seek a stay that halts construction or risk having its case dismissed as moot, and a developer seeking to defeat an appeal can do so by taking the risk of diligently proceeding...

New Jersey Issues Guidance to Assist Land Use Boards in Holding Electronic Meetings and Hearings

In the wake of Executive Order 103 declaring the COVID-19 public health emergency and Executive Order 107 concerning restrictions on public gatherings, most planning boards and zoning boards of adjustment in New Jersey cancelled their scheduled meetings and have since been evaluating how to resume meeting in a manner that complies with social distancing requirements and Executive Order 107. This has left applicants uncertain when and in what manner their applications for development will be considered and decided. Following enactment of emergency legislation to facilitate the conduct of electronic meetings, the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, Division of Local Government Services, has issued guidance to specifically assist planning boards and zoning boards of adjustment with conducting public hearings electronically on applications for development. The guidance, titled “Planning Board and Zoning Board of Adjustments Operational Guidance – COVID-19: N.J.S.A. 40:55D-1, Recommendations for Land Use Public Meetings in New Jersey,” is a first step in assisting land use boards – some of which have been hesitant to begin holding “virtual” meetings – with the mechanics of arranging for and conducting electronic meetings and public hearings. The Municipal Land Use Law (MLUL) requires land use boards to hold meetings at least monthly. Such boards must meet as scheduled unless there is a lack of applications for development to...

Appellate Division Underscores Need for Findings, and Potentially More Testimony, to Approve Reduction of Variance

It’s a common scenario: after a series of public hearings, the scope of variance relief sought is reduced by the applicant or at the direction of the board, and the board then approves the application. A recent unreported opinion from New Jersey’s Appellate Division underscores that the resolution of approval must explain how and why the reduced scope of relief satisfies the variance criteria when the original proposal did not. This may require presentation of additional testimony by the applicant in support of the modifications. In 440 Company-Carriage House, LP v. Zoning Bd. of Adjustment for the Borough of Palisades Park, the Zoning Board of Adjustment for the Borough of Palisades Park (“Board”) granted three use variances (along with final site plan approval and certain bulk variance relief) to enable the construction of a 14-story, 121-unit, residential building. The relief granted by the Board represented a substantial reduction from what the applicant-developer had actually sought and presented testimony in support of over the course of a public hearing which extended for nine meetings. The developer had originally applied for use variances to permit a 17-story building, with 154 units. Rather than approving the project as presented, or denying it, the Board, acting on its own, voted to grant the variances with a reduction from 17...

Non-Residential Development Fees – How Much Do I Pay and When?

The Statewide Non-Residential Development Fee Act (the “Act”) has been in full effect for the past three years. Yet, there remains confusion as to how the fee is calculated and when it is required to be paid. There shouldn’t be. Before the Act, both residential and non-residential development fees were governed by the Council on Affordable Housing’s (“COAH”) regulations, and municipalities adopted a form ordinance provided by COAH. COAH’s regulations, for instance, permitted all development fees to be collected with up to 50% due at the issuance of a building permit and 50% due at the issuance of a certificate of occupancy. The same regulations permitted municipalities to collect the full fee at the issuance of a certificate of occupancy. The current Act makes it crystal clear that “the payment of non-residential development fees … shall be made prior to the issuance of a certificate of occupancy for each development.” The Act also lays out a process for preliminary and final assessments of fees, including a notice required upon issuance of a construction permit to the tax assessor to conduct an initial evaluation of the fee. Thus, any requirement for the payment of a development fee as a condition of the issuance of a construction permit would be inconsistent with the Act. The Act provides...

Legislature Contemplates Extension of Moratorium on Statewide Non-Residential Development Fee

At the end of last week, the New Jersey State Senate (“Senate”) introduced Bill S3116 that proposes to continue the moratorium on the statewide non-residential development fee (the “Fee”) that expired on July 1, 2013. Since July 1, 2013, developers and land use attorneys have been in a state of flux with regard to whether the fee applies to development projects. If passed, this legislation would extend the moratorium to December 31, 2014.

MPC Alert: Amendments to Notice Requirements under PA Municipalities Planning Code

Starting August 31, 2013, municipalities will have to provide advance notice electronically or by mail of certain proceedings to landowners who have requested such notice in writing. Under amendments to the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code signed into law by Governor Tom Corbett on July 2, 2013, municipalities must provide landowners with the requested electronic notice or mailed notice of public hearings regarding the enactment of zoning ordinances and amendments.

Brand New Philadelphia Zoning Code Amended After Only 5 Months

Well that didn’t take long. Last August, following a four year process, the City of Philadelphia’s comprehensive new zoning code became law. Because of the law’s broad scope and sweeping changes, it was agreed that the Code would be revisited one year after its enactment to determine its effectiveness and to consider making any necessary changes. Yet, on January 24, 2013, a mere 5 months later ,the Philadelphia City Council, overriding a veto by Mayor Michael Nutter, passed Bill No. 120889 by a vote of 13-3 and amended the new Code, significantly complicating pre-hearing interaction between neighbors and developers which the Code was intended to streamline. While Council has enacted some minor “clean-up” amendments to the Code since August, this amendment could have substantial consequences.

Developer Alert: Philadelphia Looking to Establish Land Bank Under New State Legislation

The redevelopment of vacant and blighted parcels has been a cumbersome, frustrating and, in many cases unsuccessful, process for municipalities and developers alike. Pennsylvania’s new land bank legislation could change all that. Philadelphia, with its own land bank legislation is poised to take advantage of the state legislation.

The New Philadelphia Zoning Code – Take Notice

The revised Philadelphia Zoning Code will be effective before your Labor Day barbeque is over, and there is a smorgasbord of changes to digest. For instance, let’s take “notice,” a contentious issue the new Code seeks to resolve with procedural safeguards and requirements. A frequent area of conflict under the current (soon to be former) Code centered on interactions between developers and neighbors during the zoning/use approval process. Many times, a developer would complain that it did not know which neighborhood civic association represented a particular area, or that a civic association’s meeting schedule resulted in delays in the zoning hearing and approval process. Conversely, neighbors would charge that they were not given adequate notice of applications filed or permits issued with enough lead time to have meaningful input into the process. The revised Code seeks to balance the property owner/developer’s interest in certainty, both in terms of time required to complete the application process and identification of potentially interested parties, against the neighbors’ need for notice of the application and an opportunity to participate.

New York Appellate Division Strikes Conditions of Approval Unrelated to Site Plan Which Arose from Applicant’s Past Conduct

In its recent decision in the Matter of Kempisty v. Town of Geddes, the Appellate Division, Fourth Department, provides an important reminder to approving authorities that conditions attached to the approval of site plans must have some legitimate relationship or “nexus” to the project’s impacts or they will be stricken. Although the case breaks no new ground, it does effectively outline the considerations that should be applied when determining whether to impose conditions of approval.