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In July of 1993, the New York State Legislature passed the Long Island Pine Barrens Protection Act to protect the Central Pine Barrens in Suffolk County, New York. In June 1995, the Central Pine Barrens Comprehensive Land Use Plan was adopted, which introduced the Pine Barrens Credit Program. This program provides a financial incentive for landowners to preserve the Pine Barrens rather than seek to develop the land. Allocation of Pine Barren Credits is based upon a formula that takes into account a variety of factors, such as the size of the parcel, etc.

Last year, the Appellate Division, Second Department reviewed an Article 78 proceeding in which a landowner challenged his allocation under the formula. Given 18.46 Pine Barrens Credits, the petitioner alleged he was entitled to 50.42 Pine Barren Credits based on the size of his property and other factors. The Supreme Court, Suffolk County denied the petition, and the Appellate Division upheld, on the grounds that the petitioner failed to demonstrate a clear legal right to the requested allocation. First amongst these failings was not accounting for the fact that only 20% of the property could have been developed under the Town’s Zoning Code but for the Act. As such, it is clear that allocations under the Credit Program are limited by the potential for development.

The case was Tuccio v. C. Pine Barrens Jt. Plan. and Policy Commn., 978 N.Y.S.2d 350 (N.Y. App. Div. 2d Dept. 2014)