Last week's article concerning a proposed fourth gasoline station in Ardsley inaccurately claimed the Westchester Supreme Court agreed with Ardsley's Zoning Board of Appeals’ (ZBA) decision that there was no abandonment of the nonconforming gasoline station use at the long-closed Getty location. (A nonconforming use is a use of a property that was allowed when the use was established but which, because of subsequent changes in the zoning law, is no longer permitted. In layman's terms, they are called "grandfathered uses"). Instead, the Court sidestepped the issue and ruled the legal challenge to the ZBA’s determination was premature. The Court then ruled that whether a gasoline pumping station should be allowed at this location could be raised at the time of the village board's environmental and site plan review of the project.
The language of Ardsley's Zoning Code provides in relevant part as follows: "Abandonment. Whenever a nonconforming use has been discontinued or ceases operation for a period of six months or more, … such nonconforming use shall not thereafter be reestablished."
While I am not a supporter of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, we should not dismiss her jurisprudence of interpreting legislation primarily based on the ordinary meaning of the words used. "Discontinued" means no longer produced or provided. "Cease" means to come to an end. "Six months" means six months. The Getty station pumps were removed over 50 months ago, in early 2016. In the manner "Justice delayed is not only justice denied — it is also justice circumvented, justice mocked, and the system of justice undermined," the reopening of a nonconforming gas station at this site would similarly circumvent (or perhaps eviscerate) the plain words found in Ardsley's zoning law governing abandonment of nonconforming uses.
As your article stated, the Ardsley Village Board is seeking to declare itself the lead agency for the gasoline station's site plan review. The village board has assiduously pursued a new comprehensive plan for the downtown to address visual blights and make it pedestrian friendly and sustainable. In addition to being unnecessary, the proposed gasoline station is environmentally unsound as the site plan calls for installing eight gasoline-only pumps. While the ZBA improperly treated Ardsley's unambiguous zoning code provision governing abandonment as a suggestion, the village board should correct its error of perpetuating a detrimental nonconforming use and reject this misbegotten proposal to reopen a gasoline station in the village's downtown.
Gary S. Rappaport, Esq.