Environmental Control Board Finds Post Office Subject to City Jurisdiction

The Staten Island Main Post Office. Image credit: PMCC Post Office Photos

The Staten Island Main Post Office. Image credit: PMCC Post Office Photos

ECB found federal Postal Service not exempted from Noise Code on grounds of preemption.  On April 4, 2014 the Department of Environmental Protection issued a notice of violation against the Staten Island Main Post Office for operating an air conditioning unit in excess of the allowable decibel limit under the City Noise Code.  The Post Office contested the notice with the Environmental Control Board, arguing the United States Postal Service was “an independent establishment of the executive branch” of the federal government, and therefore the local code was preempted under the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution.  The hearing officer found the Board lacked jurisdiction over the matter and dismissed the notice.

On appeal, the City argued the federal Noise Control Act, 42 USC § 4903(b), requires federal government agencies comply with “local requirements respecting control and abatement of environmental noise”, including the New York City Noise Code.  In response, the Post Office conceded the USPS was required to comply with the Code but argued the City could not assessed a fine against federal entities without an express statutory waiver of punitive penalties.

On April 30, 2015 the Board reversed the hearing officer’s decision and sustained the notice of violation and imposed a zero penalty.  The Board found the Postal Service was not exempt from liability under the preemption doctrine.  However, the Board also found the federal Noise Control Act contained no express waiver of immunity from punitive penalties, and the Post Office was not subject to any penalty.

NYC v. Staten Island Main Post Office, ECB Appeal No. 1500074 (Apr. 30, 2015).

2 thoughts on “Environmental Control Board Finds Post Office Subject to City Jurisdiction

  1. Interesting, indeed. If memory serves me, I recall reading very late last century that a Federal District Court urged Federal agencies to be good citizens and to comply with local municipality building codes and the like notwithstanding the U.S.’s sovereign immunity. I believe that the case at bar dealt with fire codes.

    • Do you have the case cite or, at least, one that deals with an older Post Office not complying with ADA requirements?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.