STATE WATER RESOURCES LAW DID NOT PREEMPT ZONING BOARD’S REQUIRING TOWN APPROVAL BEFORE WATER CAN BE EXTRACTED FOR COMMERCIAL PURPOSES.
The Fourth Department determined the state Water Resources Law, which governs the extraction of groundwater, did not preempt the town zoning board's special-permit condition requiring town approval before water can be extracted for commercial purposes. Petitioner sought to build a pipeline to carry water from under petitioner's land to another town where the water would be sold. Petitioner argued the Water Resources Law preempted the town from requiring approval for commercial use of the extracted water. The Fourth Department held that the town's power to regulate the use of land, here requiring permission before water can be extracted for commercial purposes, was not limited by the Water Resources Law:
… [T]he Water Resources Law (ECL article 15, et seq.) does not preempt local zoning laws concerning land use. Instead, the Water Resources Law preempts only those local laws that attempt “to regulate withdrawals of groundwater,” which “includes all surface and underground water within the state's territorial limits” … . The Water Resources Law does not preempt the authority of local governments to “regulate the use of land through the enactment of zoning laws” … . * * * … [T]he statute regulates how a natural resource may be extracted but does not regulate where in the Town such extraction may occur. Matter of Smoke v Planning Bd. of Town of Greig, 2016 NY Slip Op 03322, 4th Dept 4-29-16