Maguire Dealerships Owner Sues City of Ithaca, Mayor Over Zoning

Maguire Family of Dealerships has turned to Tompkins County Supreme Court to aid its year-long quest to construct a dealership at Carpenter Business Park near the Cayuga Inlet.

The dealership’s owner, Phil Maguire, filed a lawsuit in court on Friday against the City of Ithaca, the city’s planning and development director and all 11 members of Common Council — including Mayor Svante Myrick — arguing that the city’s zoning of the waterfront area is illegal.

Maguire claims, in the lawsuit, that Common Council’s zoning of the waterfront area as a Temporary Mandatory Planned Unit Development district exceeds the council’s authority, violates New York State law, is an abuse of power, is inconsistent with the city’s comprehensive plan and is unconstitutionally vague.

Maguire purchased six parcels of land through an LLC in August and September 2015 for just over $2.7 million, deeds show. One month after Maguire applied for a building permit in February 2016, Common Council created the TMPUD, requiring developers to work closely with the council for any project in the waterfront area.

Maguire, who is represented by attorney Anthony N. Elia III of Miller Mayer LLP, makes many arguments that the TMPUD violates state law, including claims that the zoning treats buildings in the same zone differently, that New York does not give cities the right to make PUDs mandatory and that the TMPUD authorizes or encourages “arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement.”

“The TMPUD is so vague that any application may be rejected,” the lawsuit says, later adding: “It is not clear what end the TMPUD serves other than to stop development.”

The TMPUD expires on Sept. 2, 2017, by which time Common Council plans to adopt regulations for the waterfront area consistent with the city’s comprehensive plan.

Mayor Myrick told The Sun that the city followed “a thorough and legal process” and that all decisions made by Ithaca’s committees and Common Council were sound.

By Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs