by
At issue before the Vermont Supreme Court in this appeal was whether land dedicated to a public use could be condemned for another public use when the new use did not materially interfere with the prior use. Intervenors, a group of Hinesburg residents who use Geprags Park, appealed the Public Service Board’s order authorizing Vermont Gas Systems, Inc. (VGS) to condemn an easement through the park for the purpose of installing a natural gas pipeline. They argued the Board erred in authorizing the condemnation in light of the fact that the park was already dedicated to a public use, and in concluding that the condemnation was necessary under 30 V.S.A. section 110(a)(2). The Supreme Court affirmed the Board’s decision, but remanded for a minor correction to the order relating to the terms of the easement. View "In re Vermont Gas Systems, Inc." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court vacated the decision of the district court reversing the decision of the Moab City Council denying Mary and Jeramey McElhaney’s application for a conditional use permit to operate a bed and breakfast in their residential neighborhood, holding that the district court erred by refusing to send the matter back to the Council for the entry of more detailed findings of fact and conclusions of law. After determining that the Council had not generated findings sufficient to support its decision, the district court overturned the Council’s decision to deny the McElhaneys’ application. The Supreme Court remanded the case for further proceedings, holding (1) on an appeal of a district court’s review of an administrative decision, the court reviews the district court’s decision and not the Council’s; and (2) the district court erred in overturning the Council’s decision without remanding to permit the Council to craft findings of fact and conclusions of law capable of appellate review. View "McElhaney v. City of Moab" on Justia Law

by
The 4.75-acre Laurel Way site is in a hillside canyon, is steeply sloped, and contains a private, dead end street that is only partially paved. Redwood City divided its proposed development into a first phase, involving paving the roadway, installing utilities and sewer connections, landscaping, and drainage infrastructure, and a second phase, involving the construction of residences on the lots. The second phase is not to commence until the first phase is complete and approved. In 2006, the developer sought a planned development permit (PDP). The city held several workshops and public meetings then circulated a draft environmental impact report (EIR). In 2010, the planning commission certified a final EIR, adopting findings for mitigation measures, including a mitigation monitoring program. In 2013, the commission approved the PDP for the infrastructure improvements with 63 conditions. The approved project contemplates up to 16 new houses; there are two existing houses. The appeals court reinstated the PDP approval. The trial court abused its discretion by failing to evaluate the legal status of the 18 lots under the Subdivision Map Act (Gov. Code 66410). The PDP does not cover the development of individual lots, so issues regarding the legal status of the individual lots under the SMA are not ripe for judicial review. View "Save Laurel Way v. City of Redwood City" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court granted in part a writ of prohibition requested by Relators - Rocky Ridge Development, LLC and Stanley Industries, Inc. - against common laws court judge Bruce Winters after Judge Winters issued a temporary restraining order against Relators enjoining them from operating in Benton Township until “they are in compliance with the Benton Township Zoning Resolution and the laws of the State of Ohio.” Benton Township had filed a compliant for declaratory and injunctive relief against Relators, alleging that the companies were violating the terms of a Land Application Management Plan (LAMP), were in violation of local zoning ordinances and state law, and were creating a public nuisance. The Supreme Court (1) granted a limited writ of prohibition to prevent the judge from deciding any issues that properly belong to the Environmental Review Appeals Commission, such as the wisdom or propriety of issuing the LAMP or Rocky Ridge’s compliance with the LAMP; but (2) denied the writ as to all claims involving alleged violations of Benton Township’s local ordinances or allegations that Rocky Ridge’s operations were creating a public nuisance. View "State ex rel. Rocky Ridge, LLC v. Winters" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiffs sought a writ of mandate regarding their efforts to place a referendum on the ballot concerning a resolution passed by the City of San Bruno, approving the sale of real property, the former U.S. Navy facility, to a hotel developer. There has been previous redevelopment of the site and the hotel property is only one-and-one-half acres. The trial court held that the subject resolution constituted an administrative act and was therefore not subject to referendum. The court of appeal affirmed. The city is not acquiring land for any municipal purpose, and is not appropriating any of its own funds in connection with the real estate transaction; it sold land to a private developer for a profit and is not providing any subsidy to the developer. The property will not house any municipal buildings or be used to serve any municipal function. The sale simply implements prior legislative acts, amendments to the city’s Specific Plan to permit the development of the property. View "San Bruno Committee for Economic Justice v. City of San Bruno" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of the superior court affirming a decision of the Cape Elizabeth Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA), which determined that the Cape Elizabeth Code Enforcement Officer (CEO) had properly issued a building permit to Cunner Lane LLC. An abutting property owner appealed. The court remanded the case for the CEO to deny the application, holding that there was no competent evidence in the record showing that Cunner Lane LLC’s permit application met the requirements of Cape Elizabeth, Me. Zoning Ordinance 19-7-9(A)(2). View "Fissmer v. Town of Cape Elizabeth" on Justia Law

by
South San Francisco approved a conditional-use permit allowing an office building to be converted to a medical clinic for use by Planned Parenthood Mar Monte. The city determined that its consideration of the permit was categorically exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act, Public Resources Code section 21000 (CEQA). Respect Life challenged the determination. The trial court and court of appeal upheld the determination, rejecting arguments that the permit’s consideration is not exempt from CEQA because the unusual circumstances exception to CEQA’s categorical exemptions applies. By pointing only to evidence that the permit will lead to protests, Respect Life failed to establish that the city prejudicially abused its discretion by making an implied determination that there are no unusual circumstances justifying further CEQA review. View "Respect Life South San Francisco v. City of South San Francisco" on Justia Law

by
This case presented a question of whether a large-scale excavation project constituted “mining” under the pertinent federal regulations that address mineral development on Indian land. When an entity engages in “mining” of minerals owned by the Osage Nation, a federally approved lease must be obtained from the tribe. The Osage Mineral Council (OMC), acting on behalf of the Osage Nation, appealed the award of summary judgment to Defendant Osage Wind, LLC (Osage Wind), arguing that Osage Wind engaged in “mining” without procuring a federally approved mineral lease. The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) has defined “mining” as the “science, technique, and business of mineral development[.]” The Tenth Circuit held the term “mineral development” had a broad meaning, including commercial mineral extractions and offsite relocations, but also encompass action upon the extracted minerals for the purpose of exploiting the minerals themselves on site. The Court held Osage Wind’s extraction, sorting, crushing, and use of minerals as part of its excavation work constituted “mineral development,” thereby requiring a federally approved lease which Osage Wind failed to obtain. Accordingly, the Court reversed the award of summary judgment and remanded for further proceedings. View "United States v. Osage Wind" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiffs-Appellants WildEarth Guardians and Sierra Club challenged the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) decision to approve four coal leases in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin. Plaintiffs brought an Administrative Procedure Act (APA) claim arguing that the BLM failed to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) when it concluded that issuing the leases would not result in higher national carbon dioxide emissions than would declining to issue them. The district court upheld the leases. The Tenth Circuit held the BLM’s Environmental Impact Studies and Records Of Decisions were arbitrary and capricious because they omitted data pertinent to its choice with respect to issuing the leases, and thereby informing the public of its rationale. The Tenth Circuit remanded with instructions to the BLM to revise its Environmental Impact Statements (EISs) and Records of Decision (RODs). The Court did not vacate the resulting leases. View "WildEarth Guardians v. Bureau of Land Management" on Justia Law

by
Walker Brothers Investment, Inc., and James Walker (collectively, "Walker Brothers") appealed a circuit court order granting a motion for a summary judgment in favor of the City of Mobile ("the City"). In 2012, the City filed a complaint against Walker Brothers seeking a preliminary and a permanent injunction, alleging Walker Brothers owned a building, known as the Tobin Building, located in a historic district in downtown Mobile and that Walker Brothers had allowed the building to deteriorate in violation of the Mobile City Code. The City asked the circuit court to enter an order requiring Walker Brothers to "mothball" the Tobin Building in accordance with plans submitted by Walker Brothers and subsequently approved by the Board. Walker Brothers argued that the City, through the HDC and the Board, had treated Walker Brothers unequally from other developers of historic properties, and it alleged that the City had engaged in selective enforcement of the City's rules and regulations in a manner that "amounted to malicious prosecution and abuse of process." Walker Brothers filed an objection to the City's motion to dismiss, stating that it had intentionally left part of the mothballing plan uncomplete so that it could file a counterclaim against the City. The circuit court purported to grant the City's motion to dismiss later the same day. The Alabama Supreme Court dismissed Walker Brothers’ appeal, finding the City's "motion to dismiss" was a valid notice of dismissal pursuant to Rule 41(a)(1)(i), and, the circuit court was without the power to act on Walker Brothers' attempt to reinstate the City's action so that Walker Brothers could file a counterclaim. Accordingly, any order entered after the City filed its notice of dismissal was void, including the summary judgment in favor of the City that was the basis of Walker Brothers' appeal to the Supreme Court. View "Walker Brothers Investment, Inc. v. City of Mobile" on Justia Law