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McLaughlin & Stern Files Suit On Behalf of New York Homeowner Challenging Rejection of Architectural Design on Subjective Grounds

Wed 18 August 2021 News & Press

The firm recently filed a lawsuit on behalf of a New York homeowner alleging that the Architectural Review Board of the Village of Scarsdale improperly denied his request for architectural approval on subjective grounds. In addition to challenging the denial itself, the firm is also challenging the subjective nature of the review board’s approval process, and our lawyers are seeking relief for the client on various constitutional grounds as well.

About the Case: Mohmed Ahmed v. Inc. Village of Scarsdale

The claims of the firm’s client, Mohmed Ahmed, challenging the power of a local municipality to deny a building permit based upon aesthetic and architectural grounds, were the subject of an recent article. In June of this year, the Architectural Review Board of the Village of Scarsdale denied Mr. Ahmed a building permit for additions to his home based upon the board’s rejection of his architectural design for the residence. The board denied Mr. Ahmed’s application without offering him the chance to amend it.

On Mr. Ahmed’s behalf, the firm commenced an action in New York State Supreme Court in Westchester County challenging the denial—as well as the legality of the entire regulatory scheme that permits the board to deny building permits based upon subjective aesthetic opinions. The client has also lodged claims for violations of his constitutional property rights and his right to due process. The case remains pending in the New York State Supreme Court at this time.

Architectural Review Boards Cannot Make Subjective Determinations

While architectural review boards can make some determinations, usually in an advisory capacity, on the design specifications for residential properties, they cannot deny approval of architectural elements on subjective grounds. Not only does this ensure that property owners have a clear understanding of what is required in order to secure review board approval; but, even more importantly, it ensures that property owners are not denied their constitutional rights. Improper denial of architectural approval can constitute an unlawful “taking” under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution since it can severely impair the value of the subject property, and property owners can seek both injunctive relief and damages in appropriate cases.

If Mr. Ahmed’s claims are successful, this case could have broad implications for homeowners in New York who are struggling (or who have struggled) to secure architectural review board approval without a clear and valid justification. Cases such as Mr. Ahmed’s are not uncommon, and having precedent in favor of homeowners that requires a prescribed set of clear and objective guidelines for review board approval could save a substantial number of homeowners from costs, delays and frustrations in the future.

Speak with a Real Estate Litigation Attorney at McLaughlin & Stern

McLaughlin & Stern’s real estate litigation attorneys have significant experience handling a broad range of disputes involving property owners, architectural review boards and other parties. If you would like to speak with one of our attorneys about a dispute, please call 212-448-1100 or inquire online today.