Justia Zoning, Planning & Land Use Opinion Summaries

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Plaintiffs SLPR, L.L.C. (SLPR), Ann Goodfellow, trustee of the survivor's trust of the Goodfellow Family Trust (Goodfellow), and Jerry Cannon and Michael Morris, trustees of the Sewall Family Trust (Sewall) (together Plaintiffs) appealed a judgment entered in favor of defendant State of California (State) in their action against State and the San Diego Unified Port District (Port) (together Defendants) arising out of damage to their bayside properties in the City of Coronado (City) allegedly caused by dredging of the San Diego Bay (Bay). The United States Navy dredged an area of the Bay within the Naval Air Station North Island Turning Basin in 1998 and 2002 and the United States Army Corps of Engineers (Army) dredged the central navigation channel of the Bay from 2004 to 2005. In a previous decision relating to this matter, the Court of Appeal concluded, inter alia, the trial court erred in granting summary judgment on Plaintiffs' quiet title action because there were triable issues of material fact on the meaning of a facially ambiguous 1931 judgment in favor of City and against J.D. and A.B. Spreckels Investment Company (Spreckels), owner of real property along the Bay's shoreline and Plaintiffs' predecessor-in-interest, and other defendants regarding whether that judgment fixed the bayside boundaries of Plaintiffs' properties or whether it located only the current position of the mean high tide line (MHTL) at that time and retained the ambulatory MHTL as the legal boundaries of their properties. On remand, Plaintiffs filed a third amended complaint, alleging causes of action for quiet title, inverse condemnation related to the quiet title cause of action (by SLPR and Arendsee), inverse condemnation (by Plaintiffs), nuisance, and removal of lateral support. The trial court sustained State's demurrer to the third, fourth, and fifth causes of action. The court subsequently conducted a bench trial on the first and second causes of action and, after admitting and considering extrinsic evidence regarding the meaning of the Spreckels judgment, found that the judgment had fixed the boundaries between Plaintiffs' properties and the public tidelands. The court then entered judgment in favor of State and against Plaintiffs. Finding no reversible error in that judgment, the Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court. View "SLPR, L.L.C. v. San Diego Unified Port District" on Justia Law

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Petitioner New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) appealed a decision by the New Hampshire Wetlands Council remanding an administrative order issued by DES that directed respondents Bryan and Linda Corr to cease and desist unpermitted work on their lakefront property. The Corrs owned property in Moultonborough located on the shore of Lake Winnipesaukee. When they purchased the property, it contained a dry boathouse, positioned approximately two feet from the shore, which was partially collapsed as a result of snow load. The boathouse was considered a “grandfathered” or nonconforming structure for purposes of the Shoreland Protection Act. The Corrs made plans to replace the boathouse. They hired a land use consultant to assist them with the process, which required approvals from the Town of Moultonborough, as well as DES. After obtaining the building permit from the Town and the PBN from DES, the Corrs commenced construction. They spent over $100,000 on the permitted structure. When the structure was framed and nearing completion, DES visited the site to conduct an inspection, purportedly in response to a complaint the department had received. Subsequently, DES issued a Letter of Deficiency to the Corrs informing them that the structure was 27 feet tall, and therefore not compliant with DES regulations. The Corrs appealed DES’ administrative order to the Council. In their appeal, the Corrs raised four alternative arguments as to how DES had acted unlawfully and unreasonably in issuing its order. The New Hampshire Supreme Court agreed with the Corrs that DES did not have the authority to limit the height of their structure. The COurt affirmed the Council's decision to the extent that it concluded that a 12-foot height restriction did not apply to the Corrs’ structure. However, the Court vacated all other aspects of the Council’s decision, remanding with instructions to grant the Corrs’ appeal and to vacate DES’ administrative order, which relied solely on the alleged height violation. In light of the result reached, the Court did not address any additional arguments raised by the parties. View "Appeal of New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services" on Justia Law

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The issue presented for the Louisiana Supreme Court's review stemmed from a class action suit relating to plaintiffs' inverse condemnation claims against the State, and whether those claims were prescribed under La. R.S. 13:5111 and/or 28 U.S.C. 2501. In 2006, plaintiffs Steve Crooks and Era Lea Crooks filed a “Class Action Petition to Fix Boundary, For Damages and For Declaration [sic] Judgment.” The Crookses alleged that they represented a class of landowners in the Catahoula Basin whose property is affected by the increased water levels from a congressionally-approved navigation project authorized under the River and Harbor Act of 1960 to promote navigation on the Ouachita and Black Rivers. In conjunction with that project, the State of Louisiana signed an “Act of Assurances,” which obligated the State to provide the federal government with all lands and property interests necessary to the project free of charge, and to indemnify the federal government from any damages resulting from the project. Ultimately, the trial court certified the plaintiffs as one class, but subdivided that class into two groups – the “Lake Plaintiffs” and the “Swamp Plaintiffs” – depending on the location of the properties affected. The lower courts relied on the decision in Cooper v. Louisiana Department of Public Works, 870 So. 2d 315 (2004) to conclude the one-year prescriptive period for damage to immovable property found in La. C.C. art. 3493 governed and the continuing tort doctrine applied to prevent the running of prescription on the plaintiffs’ claims. The Supreme Court determined the lower courts erred in relying on Cooper and held that the three-year prescriptive period for actions for compensation for property taken by the state set forth in La. R. S. 13:5111 governed, and plaintiffs’ inverse condemnation claims were prescribed. View "Crooks v. Louisiana Dept. of Nat. Resources" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of the superior court affirming a decision of the Town of York Board of Appeals purporting to grant Daniel and Susan Raposa's appeal from a decision of the Town's Code Enforcement Officer (CEO), holding that because the Board's written findings of fact directly nullified its decision to grant the appeal, the matter must be remanded for further proceedings. The Raposas contacted the Town's CEO to express their concern that Joshua Gammon's use of his property was not consistent with his predecessor's lawful nonconforming use. The CEO determined that Gammon's operation of his business on his property was not a change in use from his predecessor's use of the property. On appeal, the Board granted the Raposas' appeal as to the change-of-use issue. In the Board's written decision, however, the Board stated, "The use of the lot by Mr. Gammon's landscaping business does not constitute a change of use but is an intensification of the same use." The superior court affirmed, concluding that the Board's written decision was the operative decision for judicial review. The Supreme Judicial Court held that because the Board's written decision contained factual findings directly contradicting its initial decision, the matter must be remanded for further proceedings. View "Raposa v. Town of York" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the business and consumer docket vacating a decision by the Town of Lamoine Board of Appeals that reversed the Town Planning Board's denial of Hard MacQuinn, Inc.'s application for a permit under the Town's site plan review ordinance and affirming and reinstating the Planning Board's decision, holding that the lower court did not err. Specifically, the Supreme Judicial Court held (1) the Me. R. Civ. P. 80B complaint filed by Friends of Lamoine and Jeffrey Dow as Trustee for the Tweedie Trust was timely; (2) the Board of Appeals properly conducted appellate review of the site plan permit decision rather than de novo review; (3) the Planning Board’s findings in denying the permit were supported by substantial evidence; and (4) MacQuinn's argument that the Planning Board should have waived a criterion of the ordinance as duplicative or inapplicable did not require discussion. View "Friends of Lamoine v. Town of Lamoine" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals ruling that Appellant's complaint for a writ of mandamus is barred by the doctrine of res judicata, holding that the court of appeals correctly applied res judicata to Appellant's claim. Appellant went into the office of the Plain Township zoning inspector to complain about a neighbor's trees, and the inspector told Appellant that the trees did not violate the zoning code. Appellant later filed a mandamus action seeking to compel the inspector and the Plain Township Board of Trustees to enforce the zoning provision against his neighbor. The court of appeals dismissed the complaint. Two years later, Appellant attempted to appeal the inspector's initial decision, but the board of zoning appeals dismissed the appeal as untimely. Appellant then filed a second mandamus action in the court of appeals seeking to compel the inspector to issue his initial decision in writing. The court of appeals held that res judicata barred the claim because Appellant could have asserted that claim in his first mandamus action. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the court of appeals correctly applied res judicata to Appellant's claim against the inspector in this case. View "State ex rel. Armatas v. Plain Township Board of Zoning Appeals" on Justia Law

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In 2011, San Jose acquired the Willow Glen Railroad Trestle, constructed in 1922, planning to demolish the Trestle and replace it with a new steel truss pedestrian bridge. The city approved the project, adopted a mitigated negative declaration (MND) under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) (Pub. Resources Code 21000), and found that the Trestle was not a historical resource. The Trestle was not listed in the California Register of Historical Resources. Had it been listed, the city would have been statutorily mandated to consider it a historical resource. In 2017, the California State Historical Resources Commission approved the listing of the Trestle. In 2018, the city submitted to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) a “Notification of Lake or Streambed Alteration” for the project. The city's 2014 Streambed Alteration Agreement (SAA) had expired. CDFW signed the final SAA, finding that the project would not have any significant impacts on fish or wildlife “with the measures specified in the 2014 MND and the [SAA].” The Conservancy unsuccessfully sought judicial intervention. The court of appeal affirmed. The city’s actions in obtaining the 2018 SAA did not require supplemental environmental review; the approval of the MND in 2014 included approval of the SAA and obtaining the new SAA did not involve any “new discretionary approval.” View "Willow Glen Trestle Conservancy v. City of San Jose" on Justia Law

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In 1999, the Taylors purchased land near a New Mexico Air Force base to raise calves. The Air Force began flying training missions over the land, sometimes “no more than 20 feet . . . off the deck.” In 2008, the Taylors granted Wind Energy an exclusive five-year option for an easement on the Taylors’ property, for “wind resource evaluation, wind energy development, energy transmission and related wind energy development uses.” In 2012, Air Force employees suggested to Wind Energy that the FAA would not issue a “No Hazard” designation for the air space above the Taylors’ land, which would be “fatal to the construction of planned wind turbines.” Wind Energy exercised its contractual right to terminate the agreement. The Taylors sued, claiming that the Air Force’s informal advice to Wind Energy caused a regulatory taking of their property interest in their contract and that the flyovers effected a physical taking. The Federal Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the complaint. Wind Energy’s termination was not a breach of the agreement so the Taylors had no property right in the continuation of that agreement nor did they have any investment-backed expectations. Any advice given by Air Force employees did not amount to an FAA denial. The Taylors did not provide factual allegations of how the flights “directly, immediately, and substantially interfere” with their quiet enjoyment and use of the land View "Taylor v. United States" on Justia Law

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Harbourside filed suit against the town, moving for a pre-enforcement preliminary injunction against Ordinance 1-16. The ordinance, among other things, established a two-tiered scheme for the use of amplified sound at non-residential properties and contains a separate section relating to outdoor live musical performances. The district court denied injunctive relief. The Eleventh Circuit applied limited review, without definitively addressing the merits, and affirmed the district court's judgment. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in ruling that Harbourside failed to establish a likelihood of success on its claims that it qualifies as an outdoor venue and that the challenged sections of the Jupiter Code are content-based. View "Harbourside Place, LLC v. Town of Jupiter" on Justia Law

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This case concerns the management of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (Delta). In 2009, the California Legislature found and declared the “Delta watershed and California’s water infrastructure are in crisis and existing Delta policies are not sustainable,” and that “[r]esolving the crisis requires fundamental reorganization of the state’s management of Delta watershed resources.” It enacted the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Reform Act of 2009. As part of the Act, the Legislature created the Delta Stewardship Council (Council) as an independent agency of the state and charged it with adopting and implementing a legally enforceable “Delta Plan,” a comprehensive, long-term management plan. Following the preparation of a program-level environmental impact report (PEIR) pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the Council adopted the Delta Plan in May 2013, which included a set of recommendations and regulatory policies to achieve the Plan's goals. Thereafter, seven lawsuits were filed by various groups challenging the validity of the Delta Plan, the Delta Plan regulations, and the PEIR for the Delta Plan. After the lawsuits were coordinated into one proceeding, the trial court issued written rulings in May and July 2016 collectively rejecting the legal challenges predicated on violations of the Delta Reform Act and the APA, with a few exceptions. In April 2018, while appeals were pending, the Council adopted amendments and certified the PEIR for the Delta Plan Amendments. In the "merits" case, the issue before the Court of Appeal was the validity of the trial court’s rulings on legal challenges to the Delta Plan and Delta Plan regulations. In the "fee" case, the issue presented was the validity of the trial court’s attorney fee order. The Court agreed with the Council that the trial court erred in finding that it violated the Act by failing to adopt performance measure targets to achieve certain objectives of the Act. The Court also agreed with the Council that the remaining issues raised in its appeal regarding the statutory violations found by the trial court were mooted by the adoption of the Delta Plan Amendments. The Court found no error in the fee award. In light of the mootness determination, the Court reversed and remanded judgments entered in the four cases appealed by the Council in the "merits" case with directions the superior court dismiss the portions that were moot. In all other respects, the Court affirmed judgment entered in each of the six coordinated cases in the merits case. View "Delta Stewardship Council Cases" on Justia Law