Justia Zoning, Planning & Land Use Opinion Summaries

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In a dispute between plaintiffs Jason Riddick, Elizabeth Riddick, and Renee Sperling, and the City of Malibu in the Court of Appeal of the State of California Second Appellate District, the court affirmed the lower court's decision. The plaintiffs sought to construct an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) attached to their existing single-family residence and applied for a permit. However, the City of Malibu denied the application, asserting that a coastal development permit (CDP) was required. The plaintiffs argued that their project was exempt from the CDP requirement under a local ordinance. The Superior Court agreed with the plaintiffs and ordered the City to process the proposed ADU as exempt from the CDP requirements. The City appealed this decision.The appellate court affirmed the lower court's decision, finding that the local ordinance did indeed exempt improvements directly attached to existing single-family residences, including ADUs, from the CDP requirement. Moreover, the court decided that the City's interpretation of the ordinance was not entitled to deference and rejected the City's contention that the ordinance language was internally inconsistent or at odds with other provisions of the statutory scheme. In a cross-appeal, the plaintiffs contended that they were entitled to a permit within 60 days of their completed application, but the court held that this issue was not properly before it on the cross-appeal because it arose from matters occurring after the final ruling. Their cross-appeal was therefore limited to the judgment, which the court affirmed in its entirety. View "Riddick v. City of Malibu" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania upheld a township ordinance that regulated the discharging of firearms within the township, except at indoor and outdoor shooting ranges. The plaintiff, a resident of the township, challenged the ordinance, claiming it violated his Second Amendment rights by limiting his ability to practice and maintain proficiency in firearm use. The court determined that the ordinance does not violate the Second Amendment. Applying the historical tradition test outlined by the United States Supreme Court in New York State Rifle & Pistol Assoc., Inc. v. Bruen, the court found the ordinance to be consistent with the nation's historical tradition of firearm regulation, which includes restrictions on when and where firearms can be discharged. The court also found that the ordinance does not interfere with the plaintiff's right to bear arms as it does not prevent him from owning or possessing firearms, but simply regulates where they can be discharged. The court also noted that the ordinance allows for shooting ranges in certain areas of the township, providing opportunities for individuals to gain proficiency in firearm use. View "Barris v. Stroud Township" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal of California, Fourth Appellate District, Division One, addressed an appeal from Hilltop Group, Inc., and ADJ Holdings, LLC (Hilltop Group), regarding a dispute with the County of San Diego (County), over the proposed North County Environmental Resources Project (NCER Project), a recycling facility. The Hilltop Group applied to develop the NCER Project on a parcel of land that was designated for industrial use by the County as part of its General Plan Update (GPU) in 2011. However, the project faced significant opposition from community members, homeowners associations, and the nearby City of Escondido due to concerns over potential environmental impacts.The County staff initially required Hilltop Group to conduct environmental studies. Based on these studies, the County concluded that the NCER Project qualified for a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) exemption under section 21083.3, meaning that no further environmental review would be needed. However, this decision was appealed to the Board of Supervisors, who voted to grant the appeals and require further environmental review. The Hilltop Group challenged this decision in court, arguing that the NCER Project did not have any significant and peculiar environmental effects that were not already evaluated by the program Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the GPU.The Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Hilltop Group, finding that the Board of Supervisors did not proceed in a manner required by law when they denied the exemption and failed to limit further environmental review to those effects enumerated in Guidelines section 15183, subdivision (b)(1) through (4). The court concluded that the Board of Supervisors' findings of peculiar environmental effects in the areas of aesthetics, noise, traffic, air quality, and GHG emissions were not supported by substantial evidence in the record. Therefore, the court held that the Board of Supervisors' decision denying the CEQA exemption and requiring the preparation of an EIR constituted a prejudicial abuse of discretion. The court reversed the trial court's judgment and directed it to enter a new judgment granting the petition and issuing a peremptory writ of mandate directing the County to set aside its decision granting the administrative appeals and requiring the preparation of an EIR. View "Hilltop Group, Inc. v. County of San Diego" on Justia Law

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In October 2018, Warren G. Treme, a member of AJSJS Development, LLC, leased minerals on a tract of land in St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana, from Dr. Christy Montegut and his siblings. AJSJS intended to join a joint venture formed in 2010 between Treme, AIMS Group, Inc., and Fred Kinsley. The joint venture aimed to extract and process clay material from the tract for a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project. However, to conduct mining and excavation activities, the plaintiffs needed to change the zoning classification of the tract. Despite multiple applications for rezoning, the Parish Council denied the applications after hearing complaints from affected residents. The plaintiffs then sued the Parish and the Council, alleging that the denial of the rezoning application constituted a regulatory taking without compensation in violation of the United States and Louisiana Constitutions. The plaintiffs also alleged violations of procedural and substantive due process and equal protection rights under the Fourteenth Amendment.The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held that the plaintiffs lacked standing to bring a takings claim because their mineral lease was not yet in effect, meaning they had no vested property interest in the tract. The court interpreted the lease to have a suspensive condition that required the plaintiffs to obtain governmental approvals for the lease to become effective. As the plaintiffs had not obtained these approvals, the lease had not yet come into effect. Consequently, the court affirmed the district court’s decision but modified the judgment to be a dismissal without prejudice. View "Treme v. St. John the Baptist" on Justia Law

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The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York's dismissal of a lawsuit brought by BMG Monroe I, LLC. BMG, a developer, had sued the Village of Monroe, New York, alleging that the Village's denial of its applications for building permits on five lots violated the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Protection Clause due to a discriminatory animus towards the Hasidic Jewish community. The Village denied the applications due to non-compliance with the architectural criteria established in the Smith Farm Project's approval conditions. The Court of Appeals agreed with the district court that the claims were unripe because BMG had not exhausted its administrative remedies. In order to satisfy the finality requirement under ripeness doctrine, BMG needed to appeal the adverse planning-board decision to a zoning board of appeals and submit at least one meaningful application for a variance. BMG could not claim that further actions were futile based on the Village's indication that it would likely not be receptive to a variance request that had yet to be made. View "BMG Monroe I, LLC v. Village of Monroe" on Justia Law

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In the case before the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, One Love Housing, LLC, a company that operates a residential sober living home in Anoka, Minnesota, sued the City of Anoka for refusing to grant a waiver from the city's zoning regulations. The regulations permit only a single family or a group of not more than four unrelated persons to reside together in the area where the sober home is located. One Love wanted to accommodate seven unrelated recovering addicts in the home. One Love and two residents of the home alleged that the city violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fair Housing Act by refusing to grant this waiver.The district court granted One Love summary judgment on its claim that the city failed to reasonably accommodate the sober home's request. The court ordered the city to grant the waiver for One Love to house seven unrelated individuals recovering from substance abuse. The city appealed this decision.The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's decision and remanded the case for further proceedings. The appellate court held that the district court erred by considering evidence that was not presented to the city council when it denied One Love's request for a waiver. The appellate court also found that the district court erred in granting summary judgment to One Love because there was a genuine dispute over whether the requested accommodation was reasonable and necessary. The court stated that the financial viability of One Love's sober home is relevant only if One Love can prove that the service it offers provides a therapeutic benefit that is necessary for people recovering from alcohol or drug abuse to successfully live in a residential neighborhood without relapsing. The court concluded that there are genuine issues of disputed fact on these issues. The court also declined to rule on One Love's disparate treatment and disparate impact claims, leaving those for the district court to address on remand. View "One Love Housing, LLC v. City of Anoka, MN" on Justia Law

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In the case involving Katherine Blumenkron, David Blumenkron, and Springville Investors, LLC, versus Multnomah County, the Metro Regional Government, and members of the Oregon Land Conservation and Development Commission, the plaintiffs challenged the designation of their land in Multnomah County, Oregon, as "rural reserves" under the Oregon Land Reserves Statute. They claimed that the statute and regulations facially violate the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the federal constitution, and that the defendants’ rural reserve designations violated their federal procedural due process, substantive due process, and equal protection rights. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of plaintiffs’ facial and as-applied constitutional challenges to the designation, concluding that the requirements for Burford abstention (a doctrine that allows federal courts to refrain from deciding a case in deference to state courts) were met for each of the as-applied claims. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by abstaining from exercising jurisdiction over the claims in their entirety, including plaintiffs’ claims for damages. The court concluded that plaintiffs had abandoned their facial constitutional claims on appeal and therefore affirmed the district court’s dismissal of these claims for failure to state a claim as a matter of law. View "BLUMENKRON V. MULTNOMAH COUNTY" on Justia Law

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This case involves a dispute between a group of plaintiffs (Jason and Elizabeth Riddick, and Renee Sperling) and the City of Malibu, the Malibu City Council, and the Malibu Planning Department (collectively referred to as the City). The plaintiffs sought to add an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) to their residence but their permit application was denied by the City. The plaintiffs petitioned the trial court for relief and obtained an order directing the City to process the proposed ADU as exempt from coastal development permit (CDP) requirements. The City appealed this decision, arguing that the trial court misinterpreted the City ordinance governing exemptions from the state’s CDP requirement. The plaintiffs cross-appealed, arguing that they established a right to a permit under state ADU standards as a matter of law, and therefore the court should have ordered the permit to be issued immediately.The Court of Appeal of the State of California Second Appellate District Division Five held that the City's interpretation of the ordinance was not entitled to deference. The court interpreted the ordinance's language to include ADUs directly attached to existing residences in the class of improvements exempt from the CDP requirement. As such, the court affirmed the trial court's decision requiring the City to process the plaintiffs' permit application under state ADU standards. The court also affirmed the trial court's rejection of the plaintiffs' argument that they were automatically entitled to a permit. View "Riddick v City of Malibu" on Justia Law

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The case revolves around two developers, SAS Associates 1, LLC and Military 1121, LLC, who filed a complaint against the City Council of Chesapeake, Virginia, alleging that their equal protection rights were violated when their rezoning applications were denied by the council. The developers owned several parcels of land in Chesapeake and sought to combine them to create a 90-acre development involving housing units, commercial space, and a conservation district. Their plans required rezoning, which was denied by the Council citing community opposition and the ability to develop under existing zoning classifications. The developers filed a complaint alleging that their application was denied even though similar applications from other developers were approved, and the council's reasons for denial were irrational and arbitrary.The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld the district court’s decision to dismiss the developers' claim. The Court of Appeals found that the developers failed to demonstrate that they were treated differently from others who were similarly situated and that the unequal treatment was the result of discriminatory animus. Furthermore, the court highlighted that zoning decisions are primarily the responsibility of local governments and that the Developers did not provide any valid comparators to support their claim of discriminatory treatment. The court noted the lack of any evidence to infer discriminatory intent on the part of the City Council members and ruled that the Developers' disagreement with the Council's decision does not render the Council's judgment call pretextual. The court affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing the complaint. View "SAS Associates v. City Council of Chesapeake" on Justia Law

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In 1999, Bernard Stockwell had his agriculturally zoned property in McCook County, South Dakota, replatted into five individual lots. In 2022, he sought an opinion from the McCook County Zoning Administrator on the number of building eligibilities for his lots. The Zoning Administrator determined that all five lots shared one building eligibility, based on her interpretation of the 2014 McCook County Zoning Ordinance. Stockwell appealed this decision to the McCook County Board of Adjustment (BOA), arguing each lot should have its own building eligibility. The BOA sided with the Zoning Administrator.Stockwell then petitioned the Circuit Court for a writ of certiorari and sought declaratory relief. The County sought summary judgment, which the Circuit Court granted. Stockwell appealed to the Supreme Court of South Dakota.The Supreme Court reversed the Circuit Court’s decision. The Court held that the 2014 zoning ordinance unambiguously refers to its own effective date, and the Circuit Court erred by not applying this definition, despite recognizing that Stockwell’s lots meet this definition. The Court also noted that if the County wishes to change the definition, it is up to the County’s legislative body, not the courts, to do so. View "Stockwell V. Mccook County Board Of Commissioners" on Justia Law