Monday, March 15, 2010

Boiler Plate AG Endorsement of Church Property Sale Found Insufficient

A New York trial court has rejected the apparently routine method by which the state Attorney General's office gives its statutorily required consent to the sale of real property by non-profit religious corporations. The New York Religious Corporations Law, Sec. 12(a)(1), requires religious corporations to obtain court approval for sale, mortgage or lease of real property. The procedures for court approval, in Sec. 511 of the Not-For-Profit Corporation Law, call for the court to require at least 15 days notice to the attorney general. In Matter of The House of The Lord and Church On The Mount, Inc., (Sup. Ct. Kings Co., March 10, 2010), a church's ex parte petition to sell a property it owns for $595,000 was accompanied by a proposed order that included a rubber stamped and signed endorsement from the attorney general's office stating:
The Attorney General hereby appears herein, has no objection to the granting of judicial approval hereon, acknowledges receipt of statutory notice, and demands service of all papers submitted herein ... conditioned on submission of the matter to the court within 30 days hereafter....
An apparently puzzled court refused to grant the order, instead directing service on the Attorney General. The court explained that it "does not deem the pre-printed text and hand written entries to satisfy the notice requirements of N-PCL § 511(b). At the very least, the Court would require an affirmation or affidavit from someone with personal knowledge explaining the circumstance and the import of the text and signatures as it pertains to the notice requirements to the Attorney General."