Justia Zoning, Planning & Land Use Opinion Summaries

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Plaintiffs Merrimack Premium Outlets, LLC and Merrimack Premium Outlets Center, LLC, appealed, and defendant Town of Merrimack (Town), cross-appealed superior court orders in an action challenging the Town’s reassessment of taxable property. Merrimack Premium Outlets, LLC owned a large property in Merrimack (the Property) that it leased to Merrimack Premium Outlets Center, LLC. The latter entity operated a retail outlet shopping mall, known as the Merrimack Premium Outlets, on the Property. In 2016, the Town conducted a revaluation of all taxable property within the municipality. As a result, the Property was assessed at $86,549,400. Later that year, the Town became aware that the Property had been used in or about 2013 as collateral for a loan and had been valued for that purpose at $220,000,000. Based on this information, the Town believed that it had severely undervalued the Property. Accordingly, the Town reassessed the Property for the 2017 tax year at $154,149,500 (the 2017 reassessment). Plaintiffs then brought this action for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief, alleging there were no changes in either the Property or the market that justified the 2017 reassessment. The superior court ruled in favor of the Town. The New Hampshire Supreme Court concluded that the trial court erred in ruling that the Town had the authority to correct its undervaluation of the Property by adjusting its assessment pursuant to RSA 75:8. Given this disposition, the Court did not address the parties' remaining arguments. View "Merrimack Premium Outlets, LLC et al. v. Town of Merrimack" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Bellevue Properties, Inc. (Bellevue) appealed a superior court order dismissing its petition to quiet title and for declaratory judgment brought against the defendants, 13 Green Street Properties, LLC and 1675 W.M.H., LLC (collectively, 13 Green Street). Bellevue owned and operated the North Conway Grand Hotel, which abutted Settlers’ Green, an outlet shopping center owned by 13 Green Street. Common Court, a road that encircled the hotel and much of Settlers’ Green, provided access to the properties. Half of the road is private, and half is public. A recorded easement allowed hotel guests to travel over a private road and the private section of Common Court. 13 Green Street planned to construct a mixed-use development in Settlers’ Green, including a supermarket and parking lot, on an undeveloped parcel of land (Lot 92) and an abutting lot (Lot 85). McMillan Lane ran through Lots 92 and 85. To construct a single, continuous development across both lots, 13 Green Street sought to replace McMillan Lane with a new private road that, like McMillan Lane, would run from Barnes Road to the public section of Common Court. In November 2019, Bellevue filed this petition to “[q]uiet title to the land” underneath McMillan Lane “by declaring that [Bellevue] has an easement in the form of a private right of access over same” pursuant to RSA 231:43, III. 13 Green Street moved to dismiss, arguing that Bellevue could not assert a statutory right of access under RSA 231:43, III because its property did not directly abut McMillan Lane. The trial court agreed with 13 Green Street and dismissed Bellevue’s petition. Finding no reversible error in the trial court's judgment of dismissal, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed. View "Bellevue Properties, Inc. v. 13 Green Street Properties, LLC et al." on Justia Law

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Defendant Town of Windham (Town) appealed a superior court order denying its motion to dismiss the tax abatement appeal of plaintiff Shaw’s Supermarkets, Inc. (Shaw’s), for lack of standing. The Town also appealed the superior court's order granting Shaw’s requested tax abatement. The owner of the property at issue leased 1.5 acres of a 34.21-acre parcel in Windham established as Current Use. The lease, in relevant part, required Shaw’s to pay the Owner its pro rata share of the real estate taxes assessed on the entire parcel, and the Owner was required to pay the taxes to the Town. If the Owner received a tax abatement, Shaw’s was entitled to its pro rata share of the abatement. In 2017, Shaw’s was directed by the Owner to pay the property taxes directly to the Town, and it did. Shaw’s unsuccessfully applied to the Town’s selectboard for a tax abatement and subsequently appealed to the superior court. The Town moved to dismiss, arguing that Shaw’s lacked standing to request a tax abatement on property it did not own. Finding the superior court did not err in finding Shaw's had standing to seek the abatement, or err in granting the abatement, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed the superior court's orders. View "Shaw's Supermarkets, Inc. v. Town of Windham" on Justia Law

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In 1981, a Georgia federal district court concluded that Atlanta’s zoning regulations for adult businesses were constitutionally overbroad in their entirety and permanently enjoined their enforcement. Atlanta did not appeal. Cheshire operates an Atlanta adult novelty and video store, Tokyo Valentino, and sued, asserting that the definitions of “adult bookstore,” “adult motion picture theater,” “adult mini motion picture theater,” “adult cabaret,” and “adult entertainment establishment” in the current Atlanta City Code are facially overbroad in violation of the First Amendment.On remand, the district court granted Atlanta summary judgment. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed. The district court did not err in providing a narrowing construction of certain terms (the term “patron” in the definitions of “adult motion picture theater” and “adult mini-motion picture theater”) in the challenged provisions. The phrase “intended, designed, or arranged” suggests that the challenged provisions do not apply to isolated or intermittent uses of the property. Cheshire failed to show that any overbreadth in the provisions is “substantial” as required by Supreme Court precedent. The challenged provisions do not purport to ban the activities or conduct they define or describe but are part of a zoning scheme regulating where covered establishments can locate or operate. View "Cheshire Bridge Holdings, LLC, v. City of Atlanta," on Justia Law

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Applicants Marian Wright and Greg Boester and their neighbors, Day Patterson and Janet Showers, owned abutting parcels of land on the shore of Caspian Lake in Greensboro, Vermont. Neighbors appealed an Environmental Division decision granting applicants a permit to tear down and reconstruct a lakeside structure on their parcel in accordance with a revised plan they submitted just prior to trial. The Vermont Supreme Court reversed, concluding that the court erred both when it determined that the structure at issue was properly designated an “accessory structure” rather than a “boathouse” under the applicable zoning bylaws, and when it declined to remand the materially revised proposal for consideration by the municipal developmental review board in the first instance. View "In Wright & Boester Conditional Use Application (Patterson and Showers, Appellants)" on Justia Law

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Canton’s 2006 Tree Ordinance prohibits the unpermitted removal, damage, or destruction of trees of specified sizes, with exceptions for agricultural operations, commercial nurseries, tree farms, and occupied lots smaller than two acres. If Canton issues a permit, the owner must replace removed trees on its own or someone else’s property or pay into Canton’s tree fund. For every landmark tree removed, an owner must replant three trees or pay $450. For every non-landmark tree removed as part of larger-scale tree removal, an owner must replant one tree or pay $300.In 2016, Canton approved the division of F.P.'s undeveloped property, noting the permitting requirement. The parcels were bisected by a county drainage ditch that was clogged with fallen trees and debris. The county refused to clear the ditch. F.P. contracted for the removal of the trees and debris and clearing other trees without a permit. Canton determined that F.P. had removed 14 landmark trees and 145 non-landmark trees. F.P. was required to either replant 187 trees or pay $47,898. F.P. filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983.The Sixth Circuit affirmed summary judgment for F.P. on its as-applied Fifth Amendment claim; although the ordinance, as applied to F.P., was not unconstitutional as a per se physical taking, it was unconstitutional as a regulatory taking and as an unconstitutional condition. Canton has not made the necessary individualized determination; the ordinance fails the “rough proportionality” required by Supreme Court precedent. View "F.P. Development, LLC. v. Charter Township of Canton" on Justia Law

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Property owners sued the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, challenging the validity of easements that cross their property to give access to neighboring residences. The superior court dismissed most of the property owners’ claims on res judicata grounds, reasoning that the claims had been brought or could have been brought in two earlier suits over the same easements. The court also granted the Borough’s motions for summary judgment or judgment on the pleadings on the property owners’ claims involving the validity of construction permits, redactions in public records, and whether the Borough had acquired a recent easement through the appropriate process. One claim remained to be tried: whether the Borough violated the property owners’ due process rights by towing their truck from the disputed roadway. The court found in favor of the Borough on this claim and awarded the Borough enhanced attorney’s fees, finding that the property owners had pursued their claims vexatiously and in bad faith. The property owners appealed. The Alaska Supreme Court concluded the superior court correctly applied the law and did not clearly err in its findings of fact. Therefore, the superior court’s judgment was affirmed. View "Windel v Matanuska-Susitna Borough" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied the writs of prohibition and mandamus sought by Relators to order Respondent, the Union County Board of Elections, to remove a zoning referendum from the November 2, 2021 general-election ballot, holding that Relators' arguments were unavailing.This case concerned the proposed rezoning of approximately 139 acres of property in Plain City, Union County, and Relators in this action owned the property, which was zoned rural residential. When the board of trustees voted to rezone the property to a planned-development district, a group of petitioners filed a referendum petition containing a summary of the zoning amendment. The board of elections certified the petition to be placed on the November 2 election ballot. Relators then filed a protest to the referendum petition, contending that it failed to satisfy the "brief summary" requirement of Ohio Rev. Code 519.12(H). The board voted to deny the protest and allow the referendum to appear on the ballot. The Supreme Court denied Relators' writs, holding that Relators did not show that the board abused its discretion or clearly disregarded applicable law in denying their protest. View "State ex rel. T-Bill Development Co. v. Union County Board of Elections" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court quashed in part the decision of the Fourth District Court of Appeal affirming the trial court's dismissal of Appellant's mandamus and certiorari claims and reversing as to Plaintiffs' claims for injunctive and declaratory relief, holding that the appellate court erred in reinstating these claims.Plaintiffs brought this action against the City of West Palm Beach seeking injunctive relief requiring the City to investigate and, if necessary, take enforcement action against an alleged zoning violation. The trial court dismissed all of Plaintiffs' claims against the City. The Fourth District affirmed the trial court's dismissal of Plaintiffs' mandamus and certiorari claims but reversed as to their claims for injunctive and declaratory relief. The Supreme Court quashed the Fourth D/istrit's decision in part, holding that an injunction was not available to compel the City to enforce its zoning ordnance against the third party in this case. View "City of West Palm Beach, Inc. v. Haver" on Justia Law

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Government Code 65915 requires that municipalities allow increased building density, and grant concessions and waivers of permit requirements, in exchange for an applicant’s agreement to dedicate a specified number of dwelling units to low-income or very low-income households. Neman proposed a Los Angeles mixed-use development, with retail space on the ground floor and 54 residential units above, including five very low-income units and five moderate-income units. The application included a Financial Feasibility Analysis, calculating the cost per unit as $1,106,847 without requested incentives, and $487,857 with incentives. At the City Planning Commission (CPC) hearing, a city planner stated that as a result of A.B. 2501, “financial pro formas, or financial analyses can no longer be considered as part of the density-bonus application.” The CPC approved the project including the requested density bonus plus increased floor area and maximum height, and two waivers (transitional height and rear yard setback requirements). Neighboring owners sued.The court of appeal upheld the approvals. Neither the statute nor the implementing ordinance requires the applicant to provide financial documentation to prove that the requested concessions will render the development “economically feasible.” CPC was required to grant the incentives unless it made a finding that they did not result in cost reductions. It did not make such a finding. It was not required to make an affirmative finding that the incentives would result in cost reductions. View "Schreiber v. City of Los Angeles" on Justia Law