Court affirms dismissal of spot zoning claim

Lower Manhattan property owner claimed it was singled-out by down-zoning. In 2003, the City Council approved a South Street Seaport down-zoning that reduced the permitted height and mass of future development in a 10-block area of Lower Manhattan. Peck Slip Associates LLC., the owner of a surface parking lot at 250 Water Street, sued the City and City Council, claiming that the down-zoning made development impossible. It further claimed that the 2003 downzoning was inconsistent with the comprehensive plan for the area, which the Mayor had announced in his 2002 “Vision for Lower Manhattan” speech, and that the down-zoning constituted unlawful spot zoning aimed at preventing development of the property, or in the alternative, a taking. The lower court dismissed the complaint, ruling that the down-zoning was lawful and the takings claim was premature. 1 CityLand 29 (November 15, 2005).

On appeal the First Department affirmed, finding that Peck Slip was unable to substantiate its claim of spot zoning because the down-zoning was not site-specific and was part of a well-considered land use plan that had consistently moved toward contextual development to preserve the character of the neighborhood. The Mayor’s speech did not contradict that zoning plan or propose any large scale development for the South Street Seaport area and there was no evidence to support Peck Slip’s claim that its property alone was singled-out by the down-zoning.

Peck Slip Associates LLC v. City Council, 2006 NY Slip Op 1114, Feb. 14, 2006 (1st Dep’t) (Attorneys: Charles G. Moerdler, for Peck; Michael A. Cardozo, Fay Ng, for NYC).


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