Justia Zoning, Planning & Land Use Opinion Summaries

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Tokyo Valentino filed suit against the County, challenging certain business licensing and adult entertainment ordinances, and seeking damages under 42 U.S.C. 1983, as well as declaratory and injunctive relief. At issue in this appeal was the district court's second dismissal of Tokyo Valentino's claims. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of Tokyo Valentino's claim for compensatory damages relating to the appeal of the ordinances, because Tokyo Valentino's second amended complaint does not contain factual allegations that establish it suffered a cognizable injury in fact for which compensatory damages might be warranted. However, the court reversed the dismissal of Tokyo Valentino's request for a declaratory judgment regarding whether its sale of sexual devices constitutes a lawful prior nonconforming use authorized under the repealed ordinances and whether the new ordinances' failure to include provisions grandfathering in prior lawful uses violates federal and state law. Finally, the court held that the district court abused its discretion by abstaining under Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 91 S. Ct. 746 (1971), from hearing Tokyo Valentino's claims stemming from the County's new ordinances. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Tokyo Gwinnett, LLC v. Gwinnett County" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Defendant's and dismissing Plaintiffs' claim that the City of Fitchburg's refusal to exempt four sober houses Plaintiffs operated for recovering addicts from a legal requirement to install sprinklers in the sober houses violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Fair Housing Act, holding that the district court did not err in concluding that the requested accommodation was not reasonable. Plaintiffs brought this suit under the ADA, 42 U.S.C. 12101-12213, and the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. 3601-3631, as amended by the Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA). The district court dismissed the suit on summary judgment, concluding that Plaintiffs failed to show that an exemption from the sprinkler requirement was either reasonable or necessary to allow recovering addicts to live in and benefit from the sober houses. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in entering summary judgment on Plaintiffs' ADA and FHAA reasonable accommodation claims. View "Summers v. City of Fitchburg" on Justia Law

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The 86-acre Knights Valley parcel in rural Sonoma County is zoned “Land Extensive Agriculture,” which allows wineries and tasting rooms as conditional uses. The project is a two-story, 5,500-square-foot winery building with a 17,500-square-foot wine cave, wastewater treatment, water storage facilities, fire protection facilities, and mechanical areas, covering approximately 2.4 acres. The site contains two residences and 46 acres of vineyards. The nearby area is primarily vineyards. County staff reviewed reports considering impacts on geology, groundwater, wastewater, and biological resources, and concluded that, with recommended mitigation, the project would not have a significant effect on the environment. The county approved the use permit with conditions and adopted a mitigated negative declaration under the California Environmental Quality Act (Pub. Resources Code 21000) and a mitigation monitoring program. The court of appeal upheld the approval. Opponents did not provide evidence that the project is reasonably likely to cause landslides or otherwise generate environmentally harmful releases of debris; that erosion from the project, particularly runoff from the cave spoils, will cause significant effects on Bidwell Creek and degrade the habitat for salmonids; or that the project’s groundwater use will significantly affect salmonids, groundwater supply in neighboring wells, and fire suppression. There was no substantial evidence that the winery will have a significant aesthetic impact or that there is a reasonable possibility the project, as conditioned, will significantly increase the risk of wildfires. View "Maacama Watershed Alliance v. County of Sonoma" on Justia Law

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The Tippah County Board of Supervisors abandoned a public road, then rescinded its decision a year and a half later without giving notice to the owners of the land on which the road was located. The Mississippi Supreme Court concluded that doing so violated the landowners’ due-process rights, so it affirmed the circuit court’s order voiding the recision order. View "Tippah County v. Lerose" on Justia Law

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The Jackson Redevelopment Authority (JRA) leased several parcels along Farish Street in Jackson, Mississippi to the Farish Street Group (FSG). In exchange for a long-term lease and other favorable terms, FSG was given a set period of time to renovate the properties and to sublet them to retail establishments. Watkins Development, which owned half of FSG, contracted with FSG to do the renovations. The plan was to build an entertainment district on Farish Street, but after a few years only a fraction of the renovations were done, and none of the properties were occupied by tenants. JRA terminated the lease, and this litigation followed. The Chancery Court ultimately found that the lease was properly terminated, that no party had shown it was entitled to money damages, and that Watkins Development could not take a mechanic’s lien on the property. Finding no reversible error in that judgment, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed. View "Watkins Development, LLC v. Jackson Redevelopment Authority" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of a putative class action against the city and city council, alleging that the city's short-term vacation rental ordinance violates the dormant Commerce Clause. The ordinance prohibits property rentals of 30 days or less with an exception for rentals where a primary resident remains in the dwelling. The panel held that the complaint failed to allege a per se violation of the dormant Commerce Clause, because the ordinance did not directly regulate interstate commerce; the ordinance did not discriminate against interstate commerce; and the complaint did not plausibly allege that the ordinance unduly burdens interstate commerce through its incidental effects. Therefore, plaintiff failed to plausibly allege that the ordinance directly or indirectly discriminated against or burdened interstate commerce. View "Rosenblatt v. City of Santa Monica" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit reversed the district court's judgment for plaintiffs on their 42 U.S.C. 1983 false arrest claim. The longstanding exemption from municipal limitations on sidewalk vending for disabled veterans, codified in New York General Business Law 35, entitles "any honorably discharged member of the armed forces of the United States who is physically disabled as a result of injuries received while in the service of said armed forces" to vend in "any street, avenue, alley, lane or park" of the City, so long as he or she has been issued a license to do so. The court held that New York General Business Law 35‐a(7)(i) does require curbside vending. In this case, plaintiffs, five disabled veterans, alleged a claim of false arrest on the theory that they were in compliance with section 35‐a(7)(i) such that there was no probable cause to issue summonses. The summonses were issued by officers for plaintiffs' failure to comply with orders to relocate their vending carts, because plaintiffs were operating their carts more than three feet from the curb. Because of the curbside vending requirement, the officers did not lack a basis to issue the summonses. View "Crescenzi v. City of New York" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Working Stiff Partners, LLC, appealed a superior court order upholding a decision of the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) for defendant City of Portsmouth (City), and denying injunctive relief. Plaintiff renovated the subject property and planned to make it available for short-term rentals via websites such as Airbnb, Homeaway and VRBO. Before renovations were completed, the City wrote to plaintiff’s owners to notify them that using the property for short-term rentals may not be permitted in the property’s zoning district, and recommended that they contact the City’s Planning Department to confirm that such a use would be permitted. Despite the City’s letter, plaintiff continued renovating the property and eventually began marketing it on Airbnb. The Airbnb listing offered daily rates, and stated that the property was suitable for family parties, wedding parties, and corporate stays. It also stated that the property could accommodate up to nine guests. As of November 2017, the property was occupied by guests 17% of the year. The complaints were not related to guest misbehavior, loud noises, or other disturbances. Rather, the complaints expressed categorical opposition to the use of the property for short-term rentals. The superior court ruled that plaintiff’s use of its property for short-term rentals was not permitted as a principal use in the zoning district in which the property was located, and that the definition of “[d]welling unit” contained in the City’s zoning ordinance was not unconstitutionally vague as applied to the plaintiff. Finding no reversible error in that judgment, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed. View "Working Stiff Partners, LLC v. City of Portsmouth" on Justia Law

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From 2007 to 2014, the parties employed significant resources in litigating “the rights of the various parties as to Nicola Road, a [Mississippi] county road that allowed the various property owners access to Highway 603.” Jourdan River Estates (JRE) prevailed in that litigation, securing much-needed access to Nicola Road for the purpose of developing its 269-acre tract of land and constructing hundreds of condominiums. “[T]he seven year delay has been costly for” JRE and Jourdan River Resort and Yacht Club, LLC (Yacht Club). In December 2011, JRE and Yacht Club sued Scott Favre, Cindy Favre, and Jefferson Parker - neighboring property owners who opposed development - for damages, asserting fifteen different causes of action. All of the causes of action were based on the allegations that defendants delayed development of the condominium complex. After years of protracted proceedings, the circuit court granted partial summary judgment in favor of defendants. In its order, the circuit court divided its analysis between JRE and Yacht Club, disposing of each cause of action by: (1) applying the statute of limitations bar; (2) finding that plaintiffs lacked standing to bring the claim; or (3) utilizing the Noerr-Pennington doctrine, which immunized defendants from tort-based liability for having petitioned the government. The trial court denied defendants’ request to apply judicial estoppel to all of the remaining claims. JRE and Yacht Club appealed the order granting summary judgment, and defendants cross-appealed regarding the court’s application of judicial estoppel. During pendency of the appeal, the Mississippi Supreme Court sua sponte requested the parties address the issue that JRE, a foreign limited liability company, was not in good standing with the Mississippi Secretary of State prior to filing its complaint. The Court found that the parties waived the issue. Thereafter, the Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s grant of partial summary judgment in favor of defendants, but reversed and remanded the court’s application of judicial estoppel. View "Jourdan River Estates, LLC v. Favre" on Justia Law

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Montour Township (Township) Pennsylvania has a zoning ordinance (Ordinance) under which the Township has been divided into different districts, including agricultural districts. The Ordinance permits several “Intensive Agriculture and Agricultural Support” uses, including “hog raising,” in agricultural districts by special exception. The Nutrient Management Act (Act), required certain agricultural operations to comply with various standards regarding the management of livestock manure, among other “nutrients.” At the heart of the Act is the mandate that certain agricultural operations adopt a “nutrient management plan” or “NMP.” The Act also contained a provision outlining the manner in which the Act, as well as the regulations and guidelines promulgated pursuant to it, preempt local regulation of nutrient management. Scott Sponenberg (Applicant) owned property used as a livestock and crop farm within an agricultural district in the Township. In April 2013, Applicant filed an application for a special exception with the Montour Township Zoning Hearing Board (ZHB) based on his desire to build a swine nursery barn with under building concrete manure storage (i.e., a manure storage facility) on his property. Applicant’s planned use was not subject to the various requirements established under the Act, which applied to NMP operations. The ZHB initially granted Applicant’s special exception application subject to conditions. Following two appeals filed by various objectors, including Russell Berner, Donna Berner, Kendall Dobbins, Robert Clark, and Robert Webber (Objectors), the matter returned to the ZHB by way of order from the Commonwealth Court for the ZHB to render necessary findings regarding Applicant’s compliance with the Ordinance’s special exception requirements. In this appeal, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court was tasked with determining whether, and if so, to what extent, the Act preempted local regulation of nutrient management by agricultural operations that were not otherwise subject to the Act’s requirements. The Court held the Act preempted local regulation of agricultural operations not subject to the Act’s requirements to the extent that the local regulation was more stringent than, inconsistent with, or in conflict with those requirements. Because the Commonwealth Court reached a contrary result, the Supreme Court reversed the Commonwealth Court’s order. View "Berner,et al v. Montour ZHB" on Justia Law