Justia Zoning, Planning & Land Use Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court affirmed the ruling of the district court that Whitefish City did not engage in illegal spot zoning and reversed the district court's ruling that Whitefish City Ordinance 18-23, which specified additional conditional uses, violated the uniformity requirement found in Mont. Code Ann. 76-2-302(2), holding that the City acted within its discretion in enacting the ordinance.This case involved an undeveloped parcel in The Lakes neighborhood known as Area 2(c). IO2.5, a series member of IO-3, LLC, filed a request with the City to amend Ordinance 99-9 to allow use of a conditional use permit (CUP) instead of a planned unit development (PUD) to develop Area 2(c). The City Council approved the request and approved Ordinance 18-23, directing amendment of the official zoning map and permitting development of Area 2(c) through a CUP instead of a PUD. Plaintiffs brought this complaint alleging that Ordinance 18-23 violates the statutory uniformity requirement. The district court struck the portion of Ordinance 18-23 that specified additional conditional uses. The Supreme Court held that the district court (1) did not err in ruling that Ordinance 18-23 did not constitute spot zoning; and (2) erred in ruling that Ordinance 18-23 violated section 76-2-302(2)'s uniformity requirement. View "Hartshorne v. Whitefish" on Justia Law

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This appeal arose from two cases filed in the Chancery Court of Madison County, Mississippi, consolidated by the chancery court on its own order. Petitioners from the community of Gluckstadt sought incorporation of approximately 10.8 square miles of incorporated territory in Madison County. The City of Canton petitioned for annexation of approximately 6.7 square miles of unincorporated territory in Madison County, consisting of five proposed areas (Areas 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5). The chancery court entered a final decree, granting, in part, the Gluckstadt Incorporators’ petition. The decree granted Canton’s proposed annexation of Areas 1 and 2 but denied Canton’s proposed annexation of Areas 3, 4, and 5. Canton and Ron Hutchinson (Incorporation Objectors) appealed the chancery court’s grant of incorporation, claiming the chancery court lacked jurisdiction over the incorporation petition because it did not include two-thirds of the signatures of the qualified electors residing in the proposed incorporation area. Various citizens (Annexation Objectors) appealed the chancery court's grant of annexation of Areas 1 and 2. Canton cross-appealed the chancery court's denial of annexation as to Areas 3, 4 and 5. Finding no manifest error with the chancery court's final decree in both cases, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed. View "In the Matter of the Enlarging, Extending and Defining the Corporate Limits and Boundaries of the City of Canton, Mississippi" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the circuit court concluding that Sierra Club lacked standing to challenge the Clay County Board of Adjustment's decision affirming the issuance of a permit for the operation of a concentrated animal feeding operation in Clay County, holding that the circuit court erred in holding that Sierra Club lacked representational standing.In concluding that Sierra Club lacked standing under S.D. Codified Laws 11-2 to bring this lawsuit in its own right, the circuit court concluded that Sierra Club was not a person aggrieved and lacked representational standing because participation in the suit by its individual members was required. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) the circuit circuit properly determined that Sierra Club lacked standing to bring suit in its own right under section 11-2-61; and (2) the circuit court erred in concluding that Sierra Club lacked representational standing. View "Sierra Club v. Clay County Board Of Adjustment" on Justia Law

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El Dorado County voters adopted Measure E in June 2016. Measure E’s stated purpose was to end the practice of “paper roads.” Prior to Measure E, if a project requiring discretionary approval would increase traffic beyond certain thresholds, the project could be approved so long as the developer contributed its proportional share of traffic impact fees to cover the cost of future road improvements, and so long as the necessary traffic-mitigating improvements were included in the County’s 10- or 20-year (depending on the project type) Capital Improvement Program. Measure E sought to end the practice of developments going forward, while traffic-mitigating road improvements remained on paper. Soon after Measure E passed, plaintiff-appellant Alliance For Responsible Planning petitioned for a writ of mandate as well as declaratory and injunctive relief, seeking to have Measure E declared invalid. Alliance argued, among other things, that Measure E violated the unconstitutional conditions doctrine. Defendants Sue Taylor et al. (Taylor) appealed a judgment granting in part Alliance’s petition for a writ of mandate. On appeal, Taylor contended the trial court erred in: (1) prematurely considering the facial challenge; (2) granting Alliance’s petition as to certain policies implemented by Measure E; and (3) granting Alliance’s petition as to Measure E’s eighth implementation statement. Finding no reversible error in the trial court’s decision, the Court of Appeal affirmed judgment. View "Alliance For Responsible Planning v. Taylor" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit challenging the City's new enforcement policy of short-term vacation rentals (STVRs). The trial court granted plaintiff's petition for a writ of mandate enjoining the City's enforcement of the STVR ban in the coastal zone unless it obtains a coastal development permit (CDP) or a Local Coastal Program (LCP) amendment approved by the California Coastal Commission or a waiver of such requirement.The Court of Appeal affirmed, concluding that the California Coastal Act of 1976 required the Commission's approval of a CDP, LCP amendment, or amendment waiver before the STVR ban could be imposed. Because there was no such approval, the trial court did not err by concluding that the STVR ban constituted a "development" under the Act. The court explained that the City cannot act unilaterally, particularly when it not only allowed the operation of STVRs for years but also benefitted from the payment of transient occupancy taxes. The court agreed with the trial court that the City cannot credibly contend that it did not produce a change because it deliberately acted to create a change in coastal zone usage and access. Finally, in regard to the City's argument that the Coastal Act exempts abatement of nuisances allegedly caused by STVRs, the City waived that issue by informing the trial court it was not "making the nuisance argument." Nor is the court persuaded that the political question and separation of powers doctrines apply. View "Kracke v. City of Santa Barbara" on Justia Law

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As part of a project to construct a new road along the North Diversion Channel, the City of Albuquerque initiated a condemnation proceeding to acquire a thirty-foot-wide strip of land across a 9.859-acre property (Property) owned by SMP Properties, LLC, whose managing member was R. Michael Pack (collectively, SMP). The district court granted Albuquerque entry and ordered the distribution of $143,850 to SMP as “just compensation” for the condemned property. SMP asserted it did not receive full compensation because, prior to initiating the condemnation action, Albuquerque directly communicated its intent to condemn a portion of the Property to one of SMP’s tenants, SAIA Motor Freight Line, LLC (SAIA). Hearing of Albuquerque’s intent to condemn, SAIA apparently decided not to renew its lease before Albuquerque filed the contemplated condemnation action, determining that the condemnation would disrupt its operation and use of the portion of the Property it leased. Based on Albuquerque’s pre-condemnation communications with SAIA and SAIA’s subsequent failure to renew its lease, SMP asserted an inverse condemnation claim against Albuquerque seeking consequential damages, including lost rental income and devaluation of the Property adjacent to the thirty-foot wide strip that Albuquerque condemned. Albuquerque moved for partial summary judgment on SMP’s “claims for consequential damages relating to the loss of potential tenant leases.” The district court granted Albuquerque summary judgment and concluded that Albuquerque’s pre-condemnation activity did not constitute “substantial[] interfere[nce] with the landowner’s use and enjoyment of the [P]roperty,” and therefore, no taking (in the form of an inverse condemnation) occurred. The Court of Appeals reversed the district court, finding there were disputed issues of material fact to preclude summary judgment. Though it did not adopt the appellate court’s reasoning, the New Mexico Supreme Court affirmed reversal of summary judgment. View "City of Albuquerque v. SMP Props., LLC" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal, based on lack of jurisdiction, of Navajo Nation's breach of trust claim alleging that Federal Appellees failed to consider the Nation's as-yet-undetermined water rights in managing the Colorado River. Several states intervened to protect their interests in the Colorado's waters.The panel concluded that the district court erred in dismissing the complaint because, in contrast to the district court's determination, the amendment was not futile. The panel explained that, although the Supreme Court retained original jurisdiction over water rights claims to the Colorado River in Arizona I, the Nation's complaint does not seek a judicial quantification of rights to the River, so the panel need not decide whether the Supreme Court's retained jurisdiction is exclusive. Furthermore, contrary to the Intervenors' arguments on appeal, the Nation's claim is not barred by res judicata, despite the federal government's representation of the Nation in Arizona I. Finally, the panel concluded that the district court erred in denying the Nation's motion to amend and in dismissing the Nation's complaint. In this case, the complaint properly stated a breach of trust claim premised on the Nation's treaties with the United States and the Nation's federally reserved Winters rights, especially when considered along with the Federal Appellees' pervasive control over the Colorado River. Accordingly, the panel remanded with instructions to permit the Nation to amend its complaint. View "Navajo Nation v. U.S. Department of the Interior" on Justia Law

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SSE has long opposed the expansion of Syar’s aggregate operation. Syar filed an application for expansion in May 2008. After more than seven years of environmental review and numerous hearings, the County Planning Commission, in October 2015, certified the final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and approved a modified project and a permit for an expansion half the size originally sought and subject to more than 100 pages of conditions and mitigation measures. The County Board of Supervisions conducted nearly a year of additional environmental review and hearings, and in a 109-page decision, rejected SSE’s appeals, certified the EIR, and approved a further modified project and permit.The court of appeal affirmed the trial court’s rejection of SSE’s petition for review. The court rejected multiple challenges to the EIR, noting that the ultimate inquiry under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is whether the EIR includes enough detail “to enable those who did not participate in its preparation to understand and to consider meaningfully the issues raised by the proposed project. The court found that consistency with the general plan was discussed at length throughout the project review process. View "Stop Syar Expansion v. County of Napa" on Justia Law

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Developers submitted an application for a Berkeley mixed-use development with 135 apartments over 33,000 square feet of retail space and parking, pursuant to Government Code section 65913.4, which provides for streamlined, ministerial approval of affordable housing projects meeting specified requirements. The site is the location of the West Berkeley Shellmound, “believed to have been one of the first of its kind at the Bay’s edge, built ca 3,700 B.C.,” part of a City of Berkeley Landmark. Shellmounds were “sacred burial sites for the average deceased mound-dweller,” slowly constructed over thousands of years from daily debris and artifacts. The city denied the application.The court of appeal ruled in favor of the developers. There is no evidence that the project “would require the demolition of a historic structure that was placed on a . . . historic register.” Remnants and artifacts could be disturbed, but that is not the issue under section 65913.4(a)(7)(C). With regard to tribal cultural resources, the project’s draft environmental impact report concluded impacts on the Shellmound would be reduced to “a less-than-significant level” by agreed-upon mitigation measures. Given the Legislature’s history of attempting to address the state’s housing crisis and frustration with local governments’ interference with that goal, and the highly subjective nature of historical preservation, the intrusion of section 65913.4 into local authority is not broader than necessary to achieve the legislation's purpose. View "Ruegg & Ellsworth v. City of Berkeley" on Justia Law

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In order to fund construction of an underground parking garage and other improvements in Balboa Park, the City of San Diego entered into a “lease revenue bond” transaction. This type of transaction was approved by the California Supreme Court in Rider v. City of San Diego, 18 Cal.4th 1035 (1998) and by the Court of Appeal court in San Diegans for Open Government v. City of San Diego, 242 Cal.App.4th 416 (2015) (SanDOG). After these cases, San Diego voters approved several amendments to the San Diego City Charter regarding bond issuance. Plaintiff San Diegans for Open Government (SanDOG) challenged the Balboa Park lease revenue bond transaction based on these amendments. In SanDOG’s view, one newly-amended provision restricted the ability of the City to use the Financing Authority to issue bonds without voter approval. The trial court disagreed, and the Court of Appeal affirmed the court’s judgment on this issue. "The provision in question reflects a limitation on City-issued bonds; it does not cover bonds issued by the Financing Authority. Moreover, even if the provision were not limited to City-issued bonds, it would not cover the lease revenue bonds contemplated here. The additional challenge asserted by SanDOG (regarding a cooperation agreement) was moot; accordingly, that portion of the judgment was reversed and remanded for the trial court to dismiss the challenge as moot. View "San Diegans for Open Gov. v. Pub. Facilities Financing etc." on Justia Law