A five-year limit by Hempstead Town on a Laundromat's special-use permit has been overturned by Nassau State Supreme Court Justice Steven A. Jaeger, who ruled that the town's zoning board of appeals lacked the authority to set time limits on such permits.
"The court finds that those portions of the challenged determination which impose time-related restrictions are unsupported by specific enabling authority in the governing code provisions," Jaeger said in his decision last month.
Town spokesman Michael Deery said the town is still studying the decision.
The owner of Laundry Palace U. in Uniondale, Mark Wieboldt, had twice before accepted the five-year limit, but argued last year at a renewal hearing that the duration limit creates economic uncertainty because the business requires a substantial, ongoing investment.
Nevertheless, the zoning board approved the permit with a five-year duration limit.
The board had argued that local residents previously raised objections to the 24-hour, seven-day-a-week nature of the business, as well as potential parking issues, alleged loitering, and late-night noise.
In addition, the board argued that it had the authority to set a time limit so that it could deny future renewal applications if the facility "became problematic in the neighborhood" or threatened the public's safety and welfare. Lastly, it said the petitioner had waived such objection by never raising it before.
Christian Browne, a partner with Sahn Ward Coschignano & Baker in Uniondale, who had argued the owner's case before the zoning board, later filed a petition in the courts against the time limit in the board's decision.
"This decision is a big victory for property owners and local businesses," Browne said. "A business needs to know that once a zoning board approves its use of land, the approval is permanent, so long as the owner operates lawfully.
"Property owners who seek and gain zoning approvals and who follow the law should not be forced to forever seek the permission of local authorities in order to simply operate an approved business," he said.