June 14, 2017

The Appellate Division, Second Department has upheld certain developers’ right to proceed on a claim for a refund of over $775,000 in “fees” they paid to the Town of Riverhead toward an 87-lot subdivision that was later abandoned, in Harriman Estates v. Town of Riverhead.  The fees at issue included a park fee, an engineering review fee, and a water fee, none of which, the developers claimed, were expended toward the subdivision before it was abandoned.  The Town argued that the developers were not entitled to a refund of any of the fees regardless of whether the subdivision was developed.   The Supreme Court had denied the Town’s motion to dismiss and motion for summary judgment.  On appeal from the denial of summary judgment, the Appellate Division affirmed.  The Appellate Division explained that a “fee charged by a municipality … must be reasonably necessary to the accomplishment of the statutory command” and “cannot be charged to generate revenue or to offset the cost of other governmental functions.”  In this case, the Appellate Division concluded that the Town failed to prove on its motion “that the fees charged were reasonably necessary to cover costs associated with the developers’ subdivision project….”