Home Courts Judge tosses Iona property rights lawsuit against New Rochelle

Judge tosses Iona property rights lawsuit against New Rochelle

A judge has dismissed an Iona College lawsuit that claimed that the city of New Rochelle had improperly blocked its expansion plans.

In its “rush to the courthouse,” Westchester Supreme Court Acting Justice Susan Cacace ruled on July 14, Iona had failed to exhaust administrative remedies.

Iona maintained that for years zoning regulations allowed it to expand the campus within the existing boundaries without asking the city for a special permit. Last fall it tried to merge 11 parcels on Beechmont Drive and Montgomery Place for development.

But the city had been considering a zoning amendment that would require a special permit to merge parcels. The law passed five days after Iona’s application was filed and the city rejected the merger.

The Roman Catholic college sued, claiming that the city had enacted the amendment improperly and deprived Iona of its property rights.

Cacace noted that Iona could have achieved its goals by challenging the city’s rejection at the zoning board of appeals. The dispute is not ripe for review, she ruled, until administrative relief has been sought and denied.

Iona had also asked the court to bar the city’s corporation counsel, Kathleen Gill, from participating in any Iona-related matters. She had previously worked for the college and was privy to inside information about its expansion plans.

“Such relief is denied in its entirety,” Cacace said, “without further comment from this court.”

“We are pleased that the court completely upheld the city’s position,” City Manager Chuck Strome said in a news release, “and we look forward to putting the matter behind us.”

“Our legal team is disappointed,” Iona spokesman Brian Beyrer said, “but is prepared to move forward with next steps to protect Iona’s property rights, just as any homeowner would do.”

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