Jones v. Town of Carroll

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This appeal addressed the application of Town laws to Plaintiff’s land. In 1984, Plaintiff, Carol Jones (“Jones”), obtained a special use permit from Defendant, the Town of Carroll, allowing her to develop a construction and demolition landfill (“C & D landfill”) on her land. The Town’s Local Law No. I of 2005 (“2005 Law”) bars zoning ordinances being given retroactive effect against vested property rights. Town Local Law No. One of 2007 (“2007 Law”) is a health and safety regulation, prohibiting the construction of a solid waste management facility within the Town. The Court of Appeals found the 2007 Law not to be a retroactive zoning ordinance.

In Supreme Court, Plaintiff moved for summary judgment, alleging that the 2007 Law was arbitrary and capricious and that the law took her property without just compensation. Defendant responded that collateral estoppel applied, alleging that Jones I, also brought by Plaintiff against Defendant, was an action regarding the same issue. The Appellate Court reviewed whether collateral estoppel was appropriate.

In Jones I, the Court of Appeals determined whether the 2005 Law unconstitutionally deprived Jones of legal use of her land for a C & D landfill. It was held that the Law did not apply to the plaintiff since she had a vested right to use the land as a landfill before the zoning law was enacted. The Court of Appeals concluded that since the case from which this appeal stems, Jones II, involves the 2007 Law and not the 2005 Law, a different piece of legislation is at issue than in Jones I (57 A.D.3d 1379 (4th Dep’t 2008); 32 A.D.3d 1216 (4th Dep’t 2006). Therefore, the doctrine of collateral estoppel did not apply.

Addressing the merits of Plaintiff’s claim, the Supreme Court denied Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment under the assertion that the 2007 Law was arbitrary and capricious. Plaintiff was found to have failed to demonstrate to the court that the Defendant’s actions were without legal justification. Plaintiff’s allegation that the 2007 Law took her property without just compensation was also rejected by the court, as she failed to show that a regulatory taking resulted from the law. It was noted that even if the 2007 Law had resulted in such a taking, declaring the law invalid, as Plaintiff sought, would not have been appropriate relief. Instead, a hearing to determine just compensation for the taking would have been proper.

The Supreme Court did not address Plaintiffs allegation that the 2007 Law was enacted in violation of the State Environmental Quality Review Act (“SEQRA”) after finding the law void as applied to Plaintiff. Because the issue was not addressed, the Appellate Court remanded the issue.

996 N.Y.S.2d 804 (4th Dep’t. 2014)

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