Justia Zoning, Planning & Land Use Opinion Summaries

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The City of Birmingham ("the City") appealed a circuit court's denial of its motion to vacate a quiet-title judgment in favor of Metropolitan Management of Alabama, LLC ("Metropolitan"). In 1999, the State of Alabama purchased a parcel of property at a tax sale. The City's Director of Finance conducted a public sale, selling and conveying a delinquent demolition assessment against the property. The City purchased that assessment interest and, in February 2007, recorded a deed showing the conveyance. In 2017, the property was sold by the State, and Michael Froelich, who was the managing member of Metropolitan, obtained title to the property by a tax deed. Froelich conveyed the property to Metropolitan by quitclaim deed. In 2018, Metropolitan commenced a quiet title action, naming Constance Wambo as a defendant possessing an interest in the property, and identified as fictitiously named defendants "any individuals and/or entities who may claim an interest now or in the future in the property ..., whose true identity is currently unknown to [the] Plaintiff." Metropolitan filed an affidavit in which Froelich averred that he, after a diligent search with the assistance of an attorney, had been unable to identify any other interest holders. In November 2019, the court entered a judgment quieting title to the property in Metropolitan, conveying to Metropolitan fee-simple title to the exclusion of all others, voiding any claims of the defendants, and making Metropolitan's claim of interest superior to any other. In early 2020, Metropolitan's attorney contacted counsel for the City regarding the City's recorded assessment interest. In June 2020, the City filed a motion to intervene in the quiet-title action and a motion to vacate the judgment as void under Rule 60(b)(4). The court denied the City's motion to vacate without stating grounds. The Alabama Supreme Court reversed, finding the law imputes to purchasers knowledge of the contents of recorded documents, and that such constructive notice of a defendant's residence generally suffices for "know[ledge]" of that residence under Rule 4.3(b). Metropolitan did not provide any reason why a reasonable probate-records search would not have disclosed the City's deed. Because Metropolitan had knowledge of the City's residence, Metropolitan's service by publication without first attempting another means of service failed to comply with Rule 4.3(b). View "City of Birmingham v. Metropolitan Management of Alabama, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the superior court reversing the decision of the Board of Appeals affirming the Town of China code enforcement officer's (CEO) issuance of an after-the-fact permit to allow the placement of a trailer on Nicholas Namer's lot, holding that the operative decision of the CEO was deficient for purposes of judicial review.Kimberly and Anthony LaMarre, whose property abutted the lot at issue, objected to the trailer's placement, arguing that the trailer was not a "recreational vehicle" within the meaning of the town's land use ordinance allowing such placement. The Board of Appeals affirmed. The superior court reversed. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment below and remanded the matter with instructions to remand to the code enforcement officer, holding that the CEO's decision was deficient for purposes of judicial review. View "LaMarre v. Town of China" on Justia Law

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Petitioners, the Towns of Chester and Hudson (collectively, Towns), appealed a Board of Tax and Land Appeals (BTLA) order granting respondent Public Service Company of New Hampshire d/b/a Eversource Energy (PSNH) abatements of taxes assessed against its property located in Chester for tax years 2014 and 2016 and in Hudson for tax years 2014, 2015, and 2016. PSNH submitted an appraisal report prepared by its expert, Concentric Energy Advisors, Inc., setting forth the expert’s opinion of the aggregate fair market value of PSNH’s taxable property located in each municipality for each tax year. Two appraisers employed by the Towns’ expert, George E. Sansoucy, P.E., LLC (GES), used a substantially similar methodology in appraising the fair market value of the land interests. The BTLA compared the equalized market value to the aggregate assessed value for each municipality for each tax year. The BTLA concluded that an assessment was unreasonable and granted an abatement when it determined that the difference between the equalized market value and the aggregate assessed value was greater than five percent. The Towns argued that because both GES and Concentric relied upon the assessed value of PSNH’s land interests in reaching their opinions of fair market value, the values that the BTLA incorporated into its analysis “were already proportionate” and “should not have had the equalization ratio[s] applied to them.” The BTLA denied the Towns’ motion for reconsideration, noting that it based its calculations upon values that “were supplied by the [Towns] themselves in the stipulations agreed to by them” and adopting the arguments PSNH raised in its objection. Finding no reversible error in the BTLA's order, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed. View "Appeal of Town of Chester et al." on Justia Law

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After the City of San Mateo denied an application to build a ten-unit apartment building, petitioners sought a writ of administrative mandamus seeking to compel the project's approval. The trial court denied the petition, ruling that the project did not satisfy the City's design guidelines for multifamily homes and that, to the extent the Housing Accountability Act (HAA), Government Code section 65589.5, required the City to ignore its own guidelines, it was an unconstitutional infringement on the City's right to home rule and an unconstitutional delegation of municipal powers.The Court of Appeal reversed, concluding that the design guideline the City invoked as part of its reason for rejecting this housing development is not "objective" for purposes of the HAA, and so cannot support the City's decision to reject the project. Furthermore, because the HAA checks municipal authority only as necessary to further the statewide interest in new housing development, the HAA does not infringe on the City's right to home rule. The court rejected the City's remaining constitutional arguments. The trial court shall issue a writ of mandate directing the City to (1) vacate its February 5, 2018 action upholding the Planning Commission's decision to deny the application, and (2) reconsider the challenge to the Planning Commission's decision. View "California Renters Legal Advocacy and Education Fund v. City of San Mateo" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the appellate court concluding that Conn. Gen. Stat. 14-55 was not repealed by a sequence of contradictory public acts relating to that statute, holding that section 14-55 has not been repealed.Plaintiff filed an administrative appeal challenging the decision of the Zoning Board of Appeals of the City of Stamford to grant a certificate of approval of the location for Defendants' used car dealership. The trial court denied the administrative appeal, but the appellate court reversed. At issue was whether the suitability analysis mandated by section 14-55 was still required in order to obtain a certificate of approval for the location of a used car dealership, despite subsequent revisions of the General Statutes listing that provision as having been repealed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the appellate court erred in concluding that section 14-55 had been repealed. View "One Elmcroft Stamford, LLC v. Zoning Board of Appeals" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the Department of the Interior and Intervenor WWP in an action challenging the BLM's denial of plaintiffs' request to transfer a "preference" to receive a permit to graze on certain federal land allotments.The panel applied step one of the Chevron framework and concluded that the IBLA correctly applied the clear and unambiguous language of the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 (TGA) and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA), which established that a grazing preference could not be exercised after the corresponding grazing permit was not renewed for bad behavior. Because the IBLA correctly interpreted and applied the statutory authorities, and therefore did not act contrary to law, it follows that the decision is not arbitrary and capricious in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act. Therefore, the district court properly granted summary judgment. View "Corrigan v. Haaland" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court ruling that Plaintiff had not articulated a legally viable cause of action and denied any requests made for injunctive relief, holding that there was no reversible error in the judgment.Plaintiff brought this complaint seeking declaratory and injunctive relief concerning Governor Ralph S. Northam's order to the Department of General Services to remove the Robert E. Lee Monument in Richmond, Virginia from Commonwealth property. The circuit court dismissed the claims, holding that Plaintiff failed to state a claim that he possessed the legal right to prohibit the Commonwealth from moving the monument. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in dismissing Plaintiff's claim with prejudice. View "Gregory v. Northam" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court concluding that Governor Ralph S. Northam's order to remove the Robert E. Lee Monument in Richmond, Virginia from property owned by the Commonwealth was not improper or unlawful, holding that Plaintiffs' claims were without merit.At issue in this case was whether language in an 1890 deed, signed by the then Governor of Virginia, and an 1889 joint resolution of the General Assembly requesting and authorizing the Governor to sign the deed, prohibited Governor Northam from ordering the removal of the state-owned Lee Monument from state-owned property. The circuit court found that the language in the deed created restrictive covenants but that those restrictive covenants were unenforceable and that the Governor's actions seeking to remove the Lee Monument did not contradict public policy or violate the Virginia Constitution. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding the the circuit court did not err. View "Taylor v. Northam" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the Land Court determining that, pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 94G, 3(a)(1), the town of Mansfield may not prevent CommCan, Inc. from converting to a retail marijuana establishment, holding that there was no error.Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 94G, 3(a)(1) exempts, with some exceptions, medical marijuana dispensaries from zoning ordinances that would prohibit them from converting to retail marijuana sales. Plaintiff, the president of CommCan, received authorization from the town to construct a building that would house a medical marijuana dispensary. Before construction began, chapter 94G legalized the sale of recreation marijuana. Plaintiff sought a determination that, pursuant to section 3(a)(1), the town may not prevent CommCan from converting to a retail marijuana establishment. The Supreme Judicial Court granted summary judgment for Plaintiff. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the town's arguments on appeal lacked merit. View "CommCan, Inc. v. Mansfield" on Justia Law

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A reverse validation action was brought by petitioners Bonnie Wolstoncroft, William Unkel, and Michael Wilkes against the County of Yolo (County) to challenge the County’s plan to continue water service to 95 residences within the North Davis Meadows County Service Area (County Service Area) by replacing two aging groundwater wells with the City of Davis’s (City) water supply. Under this plan, North Davis Meadows residents would pay substantially higher water rates to pay for the project. The County considered the increased water rates to be property-related fees and noticed a Proposition 218 (as approved by voters, Gen. Elec. (Nov. 5, 1996)) hearing. More than five months after the County adopted its resolution, but before the deadline contemplated by the parties’ tolling agreement, petitioners filed their action in superior court. The trial court rejected petitioners’ argument that the increased levy constituted an assessment for which majority approval was required by Proposition 218. The trial court also rejected petitioners’ contentions that the County wrongfully rejected protest votes it claimed not to have received or received in an untimely manner. After review of petitioners' arguments on appeal, the Court of Appeal concluded the trial court correctly determined that the levy constituted a property-related fee under Proposition 218. "The fact that maintaining adequate water supply requires switching water sources does not turn the fee into an assessment. Thus, the County properly employed the majority protest procedure under article XIII D, section 6." Further, the Court concluded that even if the trial court erred in denying petitioners’ motion to augment the record with declarations regarding two mailed protest votes, petitioners’ evidence would not prove timely compliance with the protest procedure. Without the protest votes for which only evidence of mailing was tendered, the protest lacked a majority. Accordingly, the trial court's judgment was affirmed. View "Wolstoncroft v. County of Yolo" on Justia Law