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Soho Alliance v. New York City Bd. of Standards & Appeals

ELR Citation: 31 ELR 20306
Nos. No. 124, 741 N.E.2d 106/(N.Y., 11/28/2000)

The court affirms the New York City Board of Standards and Appeals' (BSA's) decision to grant use variances permitting the development of two neighboring properties in a New York City historic district and to issue a negative declaration that the development did not require an environmental impact statement (EIS). The court first holds that substantial evidence supports the BSA's findings as to each of the five requirements necessary to issue the proposed variances. As to the existence of unique physical conditions resulting in practical difficulties, the properties have idiosyncratic lot configurations. Further, the unique physical configurations of the properties would preclude a reasonable rate of return from conforming uses. Moreover, it was not irrational or erroneous as a matter of law for the BSA to consider comparable properties from outside the zoning district in reaching its conclusion. As to the BSA's finding that the proposed development plans would not change the essential character of the neighborhood, it was not irrational for the agency to conclude that the development, which would bring an additional 185 residents to the existent 10,000-resident population, would only have an insignificant effect on the general character of the mixed use neighborhood. In addition, the court holds that there was a rational basis for the BSA's determination that there was no foreseeable significant environmental impacts that would require an EIS. The BSA took a hard look at the potential environmental effects of the proposed development and sought input from several interested agencies.

The full text of this opinion is available from ELR (4pp., ELR Order No. L-301).

Counsel for Appellants
Jack L. Lester
Law Offices of Jack L. Lester
880 Third Ave., 9th Fl., New York NY 10022
(212) 832-5357

Counsel for Respondents
Linda H. Young, Ass't Dean
Fordham University
School of Law
104 W. 62d St., New York NY 10023
(212) 636-6946

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