February 5, 2018

The Supreme Court, Suffolk County (Hon. Martha L. Luft) has dismissed a proceeding seeking to shut down a small restaurant in a Montauk motel, in JHCR Trust v. East Hampton, Index No. 4297/2016.  One issue decided in the action is whether a neighbor can challenge the issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy (CO) years after it was issued, if the neighbor claims not to have received notice of the CO’s issuance.  Challenges to COs by appeal to a zoning board are ordinarily governed by a 60-day statute of limitations, but the neighbor in this case argued that it had no notice of the 2005 CO in question, and therefore had the right to challenge the restaurant use authorized by the CO  when the owner later obtained a building permit in 2015.  The zoning board found, however, that the neighbor had constructive notice of 2005 CO dating back to at least 2010 and 2011, when the property underwent a site plan review.  The Supreme Court upheld the zoning board’s decision as consistent with New York law, further noting that the subsequent issuance of a building permit in 2015 would not “re-start the clock” on the statute of limitations.  The Supreme Court then addressed — and dismissed — the neighbor’s claim for an injunction against the restaurant, finding that the restaurant was a lawful use of the property and had obtained all of its required permits.