Court of Appeals Declines to Hear 200 Amsterdam Avenue Appeal | Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP

On Sept. 9, 2021, the New York State Court of Appeals denied a movement for leave to appeal an Appellate Division ruling that experienced upheld acceptance by the Section of Buildings (DOB) and the Board of Expectations and Appeals (BSA) of the permit for construction of a 54-tale household making at 200 Amsterdam Ave. in Manhattan currently being designed by SJP Residential Attributes and Mitsui Fudosan.

The case included the interpretation of the New York Metropolis Zoning Resolution’s definition of “zoning ton,” the unit of land utilized to figure out the zoning compliance of all proposed development perform in the metropolis. At problem was no matter whether the definition essential a newly formed zoning good deal to consist only of whole tax loads or permitted it to involve one particular or a lot more partial tax lots. Given that its adoption in 1977, the definition experienced been regularly interpreted by the DOB to allow a zoning great deal to consist of partial tax lots. The DOB utilized this extended-standing interpretation to the 200 Amsterdam Ave. zoning great deal when it approved the building allow for the 200 Amsterdam Ave. job in 2017. The permit acceptance was challenged in an administrative attractiveness to the BSA on the grounds that the project’s partial tax whole lot affliction did not satisfy the text’s requirement that a zoning lot “either [be] unsubdivided or consist[] of two or far more plenty of document.” The BSA, following thinking about equally the language of the zoning text and the DOB’s regular record of interpretation, concluded that the DOB’s interpretation was accurate and upheld the developing allow. 

Petitioners appealed, and the New York Supreme Court, in Committee for Environmentally Sound Improvement v. Amsterdam Ave. Redevelopment Associates LLC, Index No. 157273/2019 (Sup. Ct., Feb. 23, 2020), overturned the BSA and invalidated the permit. It held that the BSA’s interpretation of the “zoning lot” definition was contrary to the plain language of the Zoning Resolution, that the BSA’s and the developer’s reliance on the DOB’s historic interpretation was unreasonable because the DOB had announced its intention to transform its interpretation, that the developer had no proper to count on an invalid allow, and that the making need to be partially demolished since an invalid permit conferred no correct to develop.

The Appellate Division, in Committee for Environmentally Sound Progress v. Amsterdam Ave. Redevelopment Associates LLC, 2021 NY Slip Op. 01228 (1st Dep’t Mar. 2, 2021), reversed, holding that the suitable provision of the Zoning Resolution is ambiguous, that the BSA has exclusive skills to interpret the Zoning Resolution and that it experienced rationally interpreted the zoning whole lot definition. Therefore, the Supreme Court really should have deferred to the BSA and not done a de novo evaluate. The courtroom also held that the controversy experienced been rendered moot, given that the creating had been substantially accomplished and petitioners experienced unsuccessful to physical exercise suitable diligence in trying to get injunctive reduction in opposition to design. 

Kramer Levin represented SJP and Mitsui by the initial allowing procedure at the DOB and by means of the two appeals to the BSA. The agency also served as of counsel on the litigation in equally the Supreme Court and the Appellate Division. The Kramer Levin staff symbolizing SJP provided Land Use associates Paul D. Selver and James P. Electrical power, and counsel Jeffrey L. Braun. Real Estate spouse Andrew Charles advised Mitsui on funding and transactional problems.

As counsel to the developer via the DOB and BSA approval procedures, we consider that the Appellate Division, in reversing the Supreme Courtroom, adequately relied on the well-founded proposition that courts are to defer to skilled companies in their interpretation of ambiguous statutory language. The refusal by the Courtroom of Appeals to entertain an attraction from the Appellate Division terminates the litigation and eliminates any threat that the litigation would consequence in revocation of the constructing allow or denial of certificates of occupancy for the project. 

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