The Second Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined: (1) the town Board of Appeals’ failure to issue a decision on petitioner’s application for a special exception permit and an area variance within the 62 days prescribed by the Town Law was not a denial of the application by default; (2) Supreme Court should not have treated the failure to issue a timely decision as a denial by default. which it then annulled, ordering the town to issue the permit and the variance; and (3) Supreme Court should not have denied the Board’s motion to vacate Supreme Court’s order and judgment (ordering the issuance of the permit and variance):
Pursuant to Town Law § 267-a(8), the Board must render a decision within 62 days after the close of the hearing. The Town Law also contains a default provision which provides that if the Board, in exercising its appellate jurisdiction, fails to render a decision within 62 days of the hearing, the application is deemed denied (see id. § 267-a[b]). …
A proceeding to annul a determination by an administrative body “should not be concluded in the petitioner’s favor merely upon the basis of a failure to answer the petition on the return date thereof, unless it appears that such failure to plead was intentional and that the administrative body has no intention to have the controversy determined on the merits” … . Here, there was no evidence demonstrating a deliberate default by the Board … .
Contrary to the petitioner’s contention, its application for a special exception permit was not denied by default. The Board’s failure to comply with the time period prescribed by Town Law § 267-a(8) only results in a denial by default when the Board exercises its appellate jurisdiction (see id. § 267-a[b]). The Board exercises its original jurisdiction in special exception cases … , and thus, there was no denial by default of the petitioner’s application for a special exception permit … . With no final determination having been rendered on the application for a special exception permit, that issue was not ripe for judicial review, and the Supreme Court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over that issue … . We note that ripeness “is a matter pertaining to subject matter jurisdiction which may be raised at any time, including sua sponte” … . Matter of 999 Hempstead Turnpike, LLC v Board of Appeals of the Town of Hempstead, 2022 NY Slip Op 04721, Second Dept 7-29-22
Practice Point: A town Board of Appeals’ failure to issue a decision on an application for a permit and an area variance within the 62 days prescribed by the Town Law is not a denial of the petition by default. Supreme Court, therefore, did not have subject matter jurisdiction over he purported “denial by default” and the matter was not ripe for review.