New York Law Journal
In a case of first impression, a United States District Court Judge has ruled that a developer’s right to file zoning applications falls within the protections guaranteed under the 1st Amendment. The Court agreed with the developer’s attorney, Andrew J. Campanelli that the filing of zoning applications falls within the purview of petitioning government for the redress of grievances, which is explicitly afforded protection under the 1st Amendment. As such, the plaintiff developer can proceed to trial based upon its claim that the Town of Southampton retaliated against it for having filed an application seeking to build a McDonalds restaurant to which Town planners were opposed.
Three days into trial, the Town agreed to settle the federal lawsuit, which Mr. Campanelli had filed in federal court, by paying Mr. Campanelli’s clients $250,000 in damages, granting them permission to build a 25,000 square foot supermarket on property which was zoned “residential” and granting them an additional approval to construct a 10,000 square foot office building across the street.