Thursday, October 20, 2011
Oct 19: In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, Case No.10-0485. Appealed from the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Brendan Cunney appealed from the December 18, 2009 order and the January 20, 2010 judgment of the District Court which dismissed his complaint against the Board of Trustees of the Village of Grand View-on-Hudson, the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) for the Village, and Joseph W.
Knizeski, in his capacity as the Village's building inspector (collectively, the Village Defendants).
The Appeals Court held that "the relevant provision of the Village Zoning Law as applied to Cunney's property is unconstitutionally vague." Accordingly the Appeals Court reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the Village Defendants on Cunney's "void-for-vagueness" claim, and directed the district court to enter summary judgment in favor of Cunney on his claim. In addition, the Appeals Court vacated the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the Village Defendants on Cunney's "substantive due process" claim, and remanded the case for further proceedings consistent with the opinion.
By way of background, the Appeals Court explains that Cunney brought this action against the Village Defendants alleging a violation of his constitutional rights as a result of the ZBA's denial of his application for a certificate of occupancy (CO") for his newly-built home. Specifically, Cunney asserted that the Village Zoning Law, Chapter IX, Section E is "void for vagueness" and that the Village Defendants violated his substantive due process rights by denying him a CO.
The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Village Defendants on both claims. The district court concluded that Cunney's vagueness claim failed because a reasonable person could discern that section E prohibited the building of structures that rise more than four and one-half feet above the easterly side of River Road. Despite the district The court also determined that Cunney's substantive due process claim failed because Cunney did not possess a legitimate claim of entitlement to a CO.
The Appeals Court ruled, "We hold that section E of the Village Zoning Law is unconstitutionally vague as applied to Cunney's property because it provides inadequate notice of the elevation point on River Road from which Cunney should measure the height of his house to determine compliance, and because it authorizes arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement. Furthermore, we hold that the ordinance's constitutionality is not otherwise saved by its core meaning because a reasonable enforcement officer could find that the height of Cunney's house is in compliance with section E's restrictions. We therefore reverse the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the Village Defendants on Cunney's void-for-vagueness claim, and direct the court to enter summary judgment in favor of Cunney on this claim. In addition, we vacate the grant of summary judgment in favor of the Village Defendants on Cunney's substantive due process claim, and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion."
Access the complete opinion (click here). [#Land, #CA2]
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Posted by JPMcJ at 3:57 PM