Home Rule: CHC v Town of Middlefield

family farm, town of MiddlefieldNew York State has enshrined in its Constitution the principle of ‘home rule’ — the right of local communities to determine their community character through control over land use decisions.  Communities that prize their rural character and pristine natural resources have enacted safeguards against the onslaught of industrial shale gas extraction, which threatens to devastate the landscape and waters and upend the quiet, rural character of their towns.  The Town of Middlefield was one of the first in New York to enact a ban on all heavy industry, including shale gas extraction, and was subsequently sued by Cooperstown Holstein Corporation which contends that Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Law prohibits towns from doing so.  Judge Cerio of the New York Supreme Court upheld the Town of Middlefield’s zoning law in early 2012, and the decision was appealed.

On May 2, 2013 the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division found that the Town of Middlefield zoning law would not be preempted by the statewide Oil, Gas, and Solution Mining Law, ruling in favor of Homerule and ensuring that Middlefield, and other towns, will be able to execise zoning laws in order to protect their community character.  The court likewise upheld the similar zoning law in Dryden.

Here you will find the briefs filed by plaintiff and defendant in the Supreme Court and Appellate Court, as well as amici curiae briefs filed by environmental and non-profit groups, legal experts, and upstate small businesses.

New York Supreme Court Decision: Cooperstown Holstein Corp. v Middlefield, February 24, 2012

New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division Decision: Cooperstown Holstein Corp. v Middlefield, May 2, 2013

Cooperstown Holstein Corporation, Petitioner

Town of Middlefield, Respondent

Amicus Briefs