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Since January 1, 2003, the Uniform Code has included several sub-units. The construction, alteration, movement, enlargement, replacement, repair, equipment, use and occupancy, location, removal and demolition of “detached one- and two-family dwellings and multiple single-family dwellings (townhouses) not more than three stories in height with a separate means of egress” are matters covered by one of the other sub-units of the Uniform Code, viz., the §101.2.These sub-units are currently found in Parts 1220 to 1226 of Title 19 of the NYCRR and in the following publications, which have been incorporated by reference in those Parts: The Uniform Code is intended to address building construction and fire prevention concerns in a single code, in order to provide a basic minimum level of protection to all people of the State from hazards of fire and inadequate building construction. Consistent with the Legislature’s declaration of the purposes and policies, the Uniform Code addresses building construction and fire-safety concerns by classifying buildings according to their uses and occupancies, and providing standards that reflect the relative hazards inherent in those uses and occupancies. While the word “family” is used in the Uniform Code provisions referred to above, and in numerous other provisions of the Uniform Code, the concept of “family” is not as integral to administration and enforcement of the Uniform Code as it is to the operation of local zoning laws.Soon after deciding Mc Minn, the Court of Appeals considered whether a municipality can restrict the number of unrelated persons living together as the functional equivalent of a natural family, while allowing an unlimited number of related persons to reside together. The zoning law did not place a similar number limit on the number of persons related by blood, marriage or adoption. Also, in 1993, a federal district court in the case of , 819 F. Under the Fair Housing Act, it is unlawful for government to discriminate in the sale, rental or use of housing on the basis of handicap and individuals recovering from drug or alcohol addiction are considered handicapped under the Act. S.2d 769 (1992), the Court of Appeals struck down the city's definition of "boarding house" as not reasonably related to achieving the ordinance's legitimate purposes of reducing parking and traffic problems and controlling population density.The Court of Appeals held that the family definition violated the State due process clause because it restricted the size of a functionally equivalent family of unrelated persons but not the size of a traditional family. Supreme Court’s ruling in , (supra), it appears that, for zoning purposes, a municipality may not restrict the number of related or unrelated persons who constitute a family. S.2d 784 (1989), the Court of Appeals ruled that two homosexual men living together in a spousal-like arrangement could constitute a "family" within the context of the non-eviction provisions of the New York City Rent and Eviction regulations. In the court’s view, applying the town's zoning definition of "family" to evict the Oxford House residents due to the size or transient nature of the group living arrangement would discriminate against them because of their handicap. The definition of "boarding house" was so broad it would have prevented any type of family living in a rented house. Some municipalities have attempted to define "family" to comply with court decisions by providing for discretionary review of groups of unrelated persons greater than a specified number to ensure that they are the functional equivalent of a family.
Courts have carefully looked for some reasonable relationship between the zoning regulation and the goals sought to be achieved by the regulation.Courts have not abided restrictive definitions of "family" which keep out certain types of families. 494 (1977), held that, in keeping with due process, a zoning ordinance may not differentiate between relatives of varying degrees of kinship. Due process, then, would seem to require that any such definition eliminate distinctions among familial degrees. at 306) The Court established a standard that the "...For example, the definition of family may not be so restrictive as to exclude from its scope family members who are not expressly listed, such as cousins, uncles, aunts, nieces and nephews. In his lead opinion, Justice Powell commented that: "The tradition of uncles, aunts, cousins, and especially grand-parents sharing a household along with parents and children has roots equally venerable and equally deserving of constitutional recognition." 431 U. minimal arrangement to meet the test of a zoning provision as this one, is a group headed by a householder caring for a reasonable number of children as one would be likely to find in a biologically unitary family." (Id.) Factors of importance to the Court in the White Plains case were that the group home: a) was a "single housekeeping unit"; b) was "to all outward appearances, a relatively normal, stable, and permanent family unit"; c) was not "a temporary living arrangement as would be a group of college students sharing a house"; and d) did not provide "a framework for transients or transient living." Four years later, the Court of Appeals found that a house consisting of two surrogate parents and seven emotionally disturbed children was "... The Town had defined family as "[o]ne (1) or more persons related by blood, marriage or legal adoption residing or cooking or warming food as a single housekeeping unit; with whom there may not be more than two (2) boarders, roomers or lodgers who must live together in a common household." In a 4-3 decision, Court of Appeals held that the definition of "family" improperly excluded from its scope group homes."This ordinance, by limiting occupancy of single-family homes to persons related by blood, marriage or adoption or to only two unrelated persons of a certain age, excludes many households who pose no threat to the goal of preserving the character of the traditional single-family neighborhood, such as the households involved in White Plains and Group House, and thus fails the rational relationship test." 66 N. The Court went on to state: "Because the only alternative definition contained in this ordinance..more restrictive, both as to the number of unrelated persons and their ages, than is constitutionality permissible, however, the entire definition of family contained in the ordinance violates our state constitutional guarantee that no person shall be deprived of property without due process of law." 66 N. For a definition of family to be constitutionally permissible, it is necessary to ensure that alternative definitions of family include within them both traditional family units and well-defined non-traditional groups to whom the courts have extended due process protections. S.2d 234 (1989) the Court of Appeals held that it cannot. Under the town code, a family is defined to include those related by blood, marriage or adoption, or not more than 4 unrelated individuals living in a stable, non-transient household.This task is one which may involve the drawing of some fine legal distinctions. In Baer, the town of Brookhaven charged five (5) unrelated elderly women residing together in a house located in a single family residential zone with violating the town's zoning law, which provided that not more than 4 unrelated persons living and cooking together as a single housekeeping unit could constitute a family. Oxford House accommodated between 5 and 8 transient residents.
Generally, they first examine the goal sought to be achieved to see if it furthers a legitimate governmental objective.