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NEW YORK APPELLATE COURT LIMITS TRANSFERABLE DEVELOPMENT RIGHT CREDITS

new york map magnifiedTuccio v. Central Pine Barrens Joint Planning & Policy Commission, 113 A.D.3d 693, 978 N.Y.S.2d 350 (2014) involved a declaratory judgment proceeding in which the Petitioner contested an award of 18.46 Pine Barrens Credits to his property, instead seeking 50.42 Pine Barrens Credits and appealing from the dismissal of the proceedings in the lower court.  The Pine Barrens Credits program allocates transferable development rights to owners of property located within the “core preservation area” of the Central Pine Barrens in Long Island under the Long Island Pine Barrens Protection Act (the “Act”).

Initially, the Pine Barrens Commission denied Petitioners’ request for any Pine Barrens Credits, finding that there was no justification for any credits under the Act.  Petitioners then brought a declaratory judgment proceeding seeking the 50.42 Pine Barrens Credits asserted to be owed under the Act.  In the first iteration of this case, the Appellate Court determined there was no clear legal right to the 50.42 Pine Barrens Credits but there were other factors in the allocation formula so that some credits were available.  On remand, the Commission determined that only 20% of the property could have been developed under the local zoning code and, acting as the clearinghouse, the Commission determined that 18.46 Pine Barrens Credits should be allocated.  Petitioner again sought declaratory relief but the trial court denied relief and petitioner again appealed from the dismissal of their declaratory judgment petition.

The Court determined that the law of the case doctrine precluded a request for the 50.42 Pine Barrens Credits and that the Commission acted consistently with the appellate court directive and thus affirmed the Commission’s decision.  Implicitly, the appellate court agreed that the amount of the credits was related to the intensity of allowable development.

This case presents another aspect of the “law of the case” doctrine and also appears to limit transferrable development rights solely to compensate a land owner for actual, rather than speculative, lost development opportunities.

Tuccio v. Central Pine Barrens Joint Planning & Policy Commission, 113 A.D.3d 693, 978 N.Y.S.2d 350 (2014).

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