Justia Zoning, Planning & Land Use Opinion Summaries

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The Rio Grande was one of only a handful of rivers that created critical habitat for plants, animals, and humans. “And it is a fact of life that not enough water exists to meet the competing needs.” Recognizing these multiple uses, Congress has authorized the Bureau of Reclamation and the Army Corps of Engineers to maintain a balance between the personal, commercial, and agricultural needs of the people in New Mexico’s Middle Rio Grande Valley and the competing needs of the plants and animals. WildEarth Guardians claimed the Army Corps of Engineers failed to protect the needs of two endangered species that live along the river: the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher and the Rio Grande Silvery Minnow. The group filed suit under the Endangered Species Act, arguing the Army Corps of Engineers failed to exercise its discretion and consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) about alternative water management policies that would help protect these species. The district court concluded the Army Corps of Engineers was not authorized by the statute to allocate additional water to species’ needs and therefore was not required to consult with FWS. Finding no error in the district court’s reasoning, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed. View "WildEarth Guardians v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers" on Justia Law

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In Friends of Columbia Gorge v. Energy Fac. Siting Coun., 365 Or 371, 446 P3d 53 (2019), the Oregon Supreme Court held that the Energy Facility Siting Council had failed to substantially comply with a procedural requirement when it amended rules governing how it processes requests for amendment (RFAs) to site certificates that the council issued. The Court therefore held that the rules were invalid. In response to that decision, the council adopted temporary rules governing the RFA process. Petitioners contended that those temporary rules were also invalid. According to petitioners, the rules were invalid because the council failed to prepare a statement of its findings justifying the use of temporary rules. Petitioners also maintained that the council’s rules exceed the 180-day limit on temporary rules or otherwise improperly operated retroactively. After review, the Supreme Court disagreed with petitioners’ arguments and concluded the temporary rules were valid. View "Friends of Columbia Gorge v. Energy Fac. Siting Coun." on Justia Law

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In this case involving a dispute between Portland Pipe Line Corporation (PPLC) and the City of South Portland (the City) the First Circuit certified three questions to the Maine Law Court because this clash raised important questions of state law preemption doctrine and statutory interpretation that are unresolved and may prove dispositive. The parties to this dispute were PPLC, a Maine corporation engaged in the international transportation of oil, and the City, which enacted a municipal zoning ordinance prohibiting the bulk loading of crude oil onto vessels in the City's harbor. The ordinance prevented PPLC from using its infrastructure to transport oil from Montreal to South Portland via underground pipelines. PPLC appealed the district court's dismissal of its claims, arguing that the ordinance was preempted by Maine's Coastal Conveyance Act and was in conflict with federal constitutional law. The First Circuit declined to address the federal questions, concluding that the case lacked controlling precedent and presented difficult legal issues that warranted certification to the Law Court. View "Portland Pipe Line Corp. v. City of South Portland" on Justia Law

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The United States sought to enjoin the Uintah Valley Shoshone Tribe and several individual members from selling hunting and fishing licenses that authorized members to take wildlife from the Uintah and Ouray Reservation. The Uintah Valley Shoshone Tribe was not a federally recognized Indian tribe, but it nonetheless claimed to have tribal rights, including hunting and fishing rights, related to the Reservation. The district court held the Tribe had no authority to issue licenses. The court, however, declined to issue a permanent injunction prohibiting the issuance of future licenses against both the individual defendants and the Tribe. The Tenth Circuit agreed with the district court that the Uintah Valley Shoshone Tribe lacks authority to issue hunting and fishing licenses, and found the district court did not abuse its discretion in declining to issue a permanent injunction. View "United States v. Uintah Valley Shoshone Tribe" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit challenging four amendments to the Village of Pomona's zoning law as violations of federal and New York law. The district court dismissed Tartikov's complaint in part and later resolved certain claims in defendants' favor. The remaining claims concluded with a verdict in favor of Tartikov. Defendants appealed the final judgment and Tartikov appealed the earlier orders dismissing certain claims. The Second Circuit held that Tartikov lacked Article III standing to pursue its free exercise, free speech,and free association claims under the federal and New York constitutions, Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) substantial burden and exclusion and limits claims, Fair Housing Act (FHA) claims, and common law claims related to the Berenson doctrine claims. Therefore, the court vacated the judgment with respect to those claims, remanding for instructions for dismissal. In regard to the remaining claims that went to trial, the court reversed the district court's judgment to the extent the claims invoke two of the challenged laws and affirmed insofar as the claims invoked the remaining two. Finally, the court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the as-applied challenges and challenges to the RLUIPA equal terms and total exclusion provisions. View "Congregation Rabbinical College of Tartikov, Inc. v. Village of Pomona" on Justia Law

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The City of Desert Hot Springs (the City) tried to abate a public nuisance by serving the owner of a dilapidated hotel/motel with notice that it was required to correct numerous building and safety violations. When the owner failed to timely correct the violations or apply for a permit to raze the building, the City sought a declaration that the building constituted a nuisance and, pursuant to Health and Safety Code section 17980.7(c), requested the appointment of a receiver to oversee the building’s rehabilitation. Instead of addressing the notice and opportunity given to the owner of the hotel/motel and the proposed receiver’s qualifications, the trial court here questioned the viability of the proposed receiver’s financial and construction plan. And, having concluded the plan made no economic sense because the value of the property after its rehabilitation would not exceed the costs of rehabilitation plus the additional costs associated with appointment of a receiver, the court denied the City’s request and subsequently dismissed the action. The Court of Appeal concurred with the City which argued the court exceeded its authority under section 17980.7(c). Therefore, judgment was reversed and the matter remanded for the trial court to reconsider the City’s request for appointment of a receiver. View "City of Desert Hot Springs v. Valenti" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of the Business and Consumer Docket (BCD) in favor of the Town of Bar Harbor on Landowners' complaint seeking a declaratory judgment that the Town's Zoning Ordinance Amendment was invalid, holding that Landowners failed to demonstrate a particularized injury and commenced this action prematurely. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued an order approving the Amendment, which changed the Town's Land Use Ordinance by, among other things, creating a new Shoreland Maritime Activities District that would apply to the Town's Ferry Terminal Property. Landowners, individuals whose properties had views overlooking the waters adjacent to the Town's Ferry Terminal Property, sought a declaratory judgment that the Amendment was invalid. The BCD entered judgment for the Town. Landowners appealed, arguing that the Amendment was inconsistent with state law and that the court erred in deferring to the order of the DEP in approving the Amendment. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the court's judgment on standing and ripeness grounds and remanded the case for dismissal without prejudice, holding that Landowners lacked standing to challenge the Amendment and that their claim was not ripe. View "Blanchard v. Town of Bar Harbor" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants and dismissing Plaintiff's action claiming violation of restrictive covenants and breach of the duty of quiet enjoyment arising out of Defendants' alleged wrongful construction of a multi-story structure on their property, holding that summary judgment was properly granted. Defendants failed to get approval prior to building, as required under the plain language of the restrictive covenant at issue. However, Defendants ultimately received the required approval. The requirements were not building requirements but, rather, the requirement to submit plans for approval prior to building. The Supreme Court held that because the requested relief for Defendants' breach of the restrictive covenants would lead to a futile result, the hearing justice did not err in granting Defendants' motion for summary judgment. View "Pollak v. 217 Indian Avenue, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the Appellate Division's decision confirming the determination of the Environmental Control Board (ECB) concluding that petitioner corporations were outdoor advertising companies (OACs), holding that by advertising a distinct legal entity on their buildings, petitioner corporations made space available to "others" under Administrative Code 28.502.1. Petitioner corporations were owned either by John Ciafone or by both Ciafone and his spouse. Each of the buildings owned by the corporations had signage affixed to it advertising Ciafone's law practice. The New York City Department of Buildings cited the corporations for violations of the Administrative Code of the City of New York, as well as the New York City Zoning Resolution. The determination was affirmed on administrative appeal. The court of Appeals affirmed, holding that Ciafone, his professional corporation, and the petitioner corporations were separate legal entities, and therefore, the petitioner corporations were OACs under the plain language of Administrative Code 28-502.1. View "Franklin Street Realty Corp. v. NYC Environmental Control Board" on Justia Law

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Stephen Taylor was convicted by jury of numerous sex offenses against his adopted daughters, Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2. In total, the jury convicted him on 12 counts. The trial court sentenced him to prison for a one-year determinate term and an aggregate indeterminate term of 165 years to life. On appeal, Taylor argued the trial court erred by admitting expert testimony on child sexual abuse accommodation syndrome, and instructing the jurors that they could use that evidence to evaluate the victims’ credibility. He also claimed the court made several sentencing errors: (1) by imposing two indeterminate terms under the former “One Strike” law for two offenses that occurred during a single occasion; (2) by imposing multiple punishments for four counts of aggravated sexual assault and four counts of lewd acts arising from the same facts; and (3) by imposing a restitution fine and court operations and facilities fees without an ability to pay hearing. The Court of Appeal agreed that the court erred by imposing multiple punishments on four counts of aggravated sexual assault (counts 1 through 4) and four counts of forcible lewd acts (counts 5 through 8) that arose from the same conduct. Accordingly, Taylor’s sentence was stayed on counts 5 through 8. The Court also agreed the court should hold an ability to pay hearing, at least as to the court operations and facilities fees. Therefore, the Court reversed the order imposing those fees and remanded for a hearing on Taylor’s ability to pay them. As to the restitution fine, Taylor forfeited his contention. The Court otherwise rejected Taylor’s arguments and affirmed. View "Holden v. City of San Diego" on Justia Law