Zoning Board Should Have Made Every Effort to Accommodate Religious Use/Zoning Board’s Denial of Variances Annulled and Variances Granted
The Second Department affirmed Supreme Court’s determination annulling a zoning board’s denial of variances to allow parking for a religious organization (and granting the variances). The court noted that religious organizations are not exempt from zoning regulation, but the Board was obligated to make an effort to accommodate the religious use (which it did not do):
The Board’s denial of the petitioner’s applications was arbitrary and capricious. “[W]hile religious institutions are not exempt from local zoning laws, greater flexibility is required in evaluating an application for a religious use than an application for another use and every effort to accommodate the religious use must be made” … . A local zoning board is required to “suggest measures to accommodate the proposed religious use while mitigating the adverse effects on the surrounding community to the greatest extent possible” … .
Here, the record reflects that the Board voted to deny the petitioner’s applications without making any attempt to accommodate the proposed religious use… . Matter of Gospel Faith Mission Intl Inc v Weiss, 2013 NY Slip Op 08439, 2nd Dept 12-18-13