A coalition of neighbors had sued the village of Mamaroneck, N.Y.’s zoning appeals board for granting a special-use permit to the club, claiming that evidence about traffic, parking, noise and safety problems had been ignored. The suit was dismissed in 2015 and appellate judges found that enough evidence existed to justify both the board’s original decision and the dismissal.
A New York state appellate court has upheld a ruling that the village of Mamaroneck, N.Y.’s zoning appeals board acted properly when it granted a special-use permit to the Hampshire Country Club to run non-member events, Westfair Online of White Plains, N.Y. reported.
The Mamaroneck Coastal Environment Coalition sued the zoning appeals board in 2014, claiming that it ignored evidence about traffic, parking, noise and safety problems at the club when it issued the permit. A state Supreme Court judge in Westchester dismissed the lawsuit in 2015, finding that the zoning board had not abused its authority.
Four justices in the Second Appellate Division agreed with that dismissal in a ruling issued in July, Westfair Online reported. “Where substantial evidence exists,” the appellate judges ruled, “a court may not substitute its own judgment for that of the board.”
The 216-acre Hampshire CC property is owned by Hampshire Recreation LLC, Westfair Online reported, and the coalition that filed the suit consists of four couples who live near the golf and tennis club.
The country club is operated by Hampshire Club Inc., a nonprofit organization, as required by village law, Westfair Online reported. But Hampshire Club is a sham entity that operates for the benefit of the club’s investors, the coalition’s suit claimed.
The neighbors also contended in their suit that country clubs may only serve members and their guests. But Hampshire Country Club holds weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs, golf events and galas for non-members. People attending those events, the coalition said, have damaged their properties, created excessive noise and traffic, and caused parking and safety problems, Westfair Online reported.
The village cited the club for violations in 2013, Westfair Online reported. Then club owners formed Hampshire Club Inc. and applied for a special permit to hold non-member events, and the zoning board approved the permit.
In its suit, the coalition accused the zoning board of acting capriciously and ignoring unrefuted evidence, Westfair Online reported. The suit sought to have the permit rescinded because it was issued to a sham non-profit organization and because the board put no restrictions on noise and parking.
Supreme Court Justice Linda S. Jamieson rejected the coalition’s arguments in dismissing the case in 2015 (http://clubandresortbusiness.com/2015/06/judge-dismisses-lawsuit-against-hampshire-cc/)
The zoning board decision could be overturned, Jamieson said in that decision, only if it had acted unreasonably or irrationally, “regardless of whether they drew the right or wrong conclusions from that evidence.”
Instead, Jamieson said, she found that the debate at a public hearing was robust and thorough, with each side allowed to vigorously advanced its position. The board then discussed the issues and took advice from its attorney before voting for the permit, she said. The zoning board based its decision on the evidence, Jamieson found, and the coalition did not demonstrate any abuse or illegality.
“What petitioners submitted to the court are bare facts and vehement assertions unsupported by any documentary evidence,” Jamieson said in her ruling.