Udell v. Hass, Court of Appeals of New York (1968)


In 1951, the appellant acquired a 2.5 acre parcel of vacant lots in the periphery of the Village of Lake Success, on the east side of Lakeville Rd. At the time, the parcel had been zoned for business use for 12 years, and remained so for another 8 years. In 1958, the village amended its zoning ordinance with a statement entitled “development policy” which stated that Lake Success was to remain a primarily low density residential development, but that other uses would be permitted that might contribute to strengthening the tax base of the community. Prior to June 1960, the small portion of the community’s land zoned for business use was located on the periphery of the community. On June 21, 1960 the Board was informed of an informal preliminary sketch for the development of a bowling alley and supermarket on the vacant parcel. That evening, following a discussion of the traffic problem on Lakeville Road, the planning board proposed rezoning an area, including the appellant’s parcel, as residence “C.” A month later the Village passed ordinance No 60 making this change.

Procedure: The trial court sustained the ordinance rezoning the parcel as residential.

Issue: Is zoning ordinance No 60 in accordance with a comprehensive plan and thus a valid use of zoning, or is it a response to a specific problem without sufficient forethought or planning and thus invalid because it does not meet the requirement of section 177 of the Village Law?
(Were zoning principles followed in this case? How not? Was forethought given to the community’s land use problems? Is zoning ordinance No 60 an amendment to the zoning law based on a careful and deliberate review of the “present and reasonably foreseeable needs of the community” and in accordance with a general development policy for the community as a whole, or was the zoning amendment adopted only to deal with specific problems that have arisen, but gives no consideration to alternatives which might minimize the adverse affects of a change in law on particular landowners?)

Holding: The court reversed the lower court decision and held that ordinance No 60 is invalid because the rezoning was discriminatory and was not done “in accordance with [the] comprehensive plan.

Rationale: The rezoning of this parcel area on the perimeter of the village from business to residential in ordinance No 60 was not in harmony with the community’s overall land use plan and did not reflect the village’s stated development policy to. No significant consideration was given to other possible alternatives for alleviating the traffic problem, and no consideration was given to zoning the area for any use other than residence “C.” Thus, the fundamental requirement of zoning that it conforms to a “comprehensive plan” – such that in exercising zoning power, local authorities act for the benefit of the community as a whole, following a deliberate consideration of the alternatives – was not met.

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