August 25, 2021

DSB successfully obtained a favorable decision from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, affirming dismissal of a claim that a land owner’s constitutional rights were violated by a Town declining to recognize an alleged pre-existing non-conforming use.  The plaintiff, whose family owned several acres of mostly vacant land prior to the adoption of zoning, argued that the property had always been used to store materials and equipment related to his family’s local businesses, and thus had a grandfathered commercial storage use, and renting the property to another local business for the storage of its materials and equipment was merely a continuation of that use.  The Town’s Zoning Board of Appeals disagreed that evidence submitted by the Plaintiff showed a pre-existing non-conforming outdoor storage business, rather than merely incidental storage of the owner’s personal property, and – regardless – found that renting the property to a third party would not be a continuation of that pre-existing use if it had been found.  Plaintiff sued in federal court, arguing among other things that not recognizing a grandfathered commercial use and requiring compliance with residential zoning under these circumstances violated the Takings and Due Process Clauses, but DSB obtained a judgment dismissing the action as a matter of law, which has now been affirmed on appeal.  The decision can be found here: https://www.ca2.uscourts.gov/decisions/isysquery/37d680d4-7bd2-48aa-bf17-107027fd31c2/2/doc/20-4252_so.pdf.