BSA Denial of Billboard Permit Upheld on Appeal

One of Take Two's prohibited signs at 393 Canal Street. Image credit: Google

One of Take Two’s prohibited signs at 393 Canal Street. Image credit: Google

Court held Board properly found billboards were prohibited near Holland Tunnel exit.  On January 8, 2013 the Board of Standards and Appeals issued two decisions denying an appeal of a Department of Buildings decision to refuse permitting two billboards near the Holland Tunnel exit in Tribeca, Manhattan.  Take Two Outdoor Media LLC, the appellant, argued the Holland Tunnel’s exit roadway did not constitute an “approach” to an arterial roadway under §49-16 of the Rules of the City of New York, and the location of their billboards within nine hundred feet of the roadway was permissible.  The Board disagreed and upheld Buildings’ decision.  Take Two petitioned for an annulment of the Board’s decisions. On October 30 and November 7, 2013, Justice Carol E. Huff of the New York Supreme Court denied both petitions.

Take Two appealed, repeating its argument that the exit roadway was not an “approach” under the law, and arguing the decision was arbitrary and capricious as the signs were originally permitted by Buildings in 2000 and 2001. Take Two also argued the determination violated its commercial free speech.

On appeal, First Department upheld the lower court’s ruling.  The court held the Board properly determined the exit roadway qualified as an approach to an arterial highway within the meaning of the Rules and the Zoning Resolution and therefore the location of the sign was impermissible. The court held though Buildings had previously approved the signs, it had adequately explained its reasons for subsequently rejecting them, and that the lower court had correctly rejected Take Two’s free speech argument.

Take Two Outdoor Media LLC v. Board of Stds. & Appeals of the City of New York, 2015 N.Y. Slip Op 04387 (1st Dep’t, May 21, 2015) (Attorneys: Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP, Richard G. Leland of counsel, for appellant; Zachary W. Carter, Corporation Counsel, Karen M. Griffin of counsel, for respondent).

By:  Michael Twomey (Michael is the CityLaw Fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2014).

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