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  • Trustees of Union College v. Members of the …Trustees of Union College v. Members of the Schenectady City Council
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Trustees of Union College v. Members of the Schenectady City Council

Appellate Division, New York Supreme Court
690 N.E.2d 862 (1997)


The General Electric Realty Plot (Realty Plot) is an area of Schenectady with turn-of-the-century residences. In 1978, the city adopted an ordinance establishing a Single Family Historical District (Historical District). The Historical District included the Realty Plot and limited property uses to large, single-family residences. The ordinance originally allowed for education, religious, and other institutions to apply for special-use permits within the Historic District. In 1984, the city amended the ordinance to further limit uses in the Historical District, including prohibiting educational uses entirely. Accordingly, educational institutions were no longer allowed to seek a special-use permit. The city’s zoning code had always allowed property owners to seek a zoning variance by showing practical difficulties or unnecessary hardships. The code also allowed a private party unable or unwilling to seek a variance or special-use permit to seek an amendment to the code itself. Union College (plaintiff) owns seven properties located in the Historical District and adjacent to plaintiff’s campus. In 1992, Union College proposed that the ordinance be amended to include nonresidential educational use as a special-permit use in the Historical District. When no action was taken on Union College’s proposal, in 1995, Union College sued the city, its mayor, and the Schenectady City Council (Council) (defendants), arguing that the city code was unconstitutional on its face. The trial court found for Union College. The defendants appealed. The appellate court affirmed, and the defendants appealed again.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Kaye, J.)

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