Justia Zoning, Planning & Land Use Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court ruling in favor of Henrico County and concluding that HHHHunt did not have a vested right to the continuation of Dominion Club Drive under Va. Code 15.2-2261 and that the County could rely on the abandonment provisions of Title 33.2 of the Code to eliminate the extension of Dominion Club Drive, holding that the circuit court did not err. HHHunt wished to extend Dominion Club Drive into Hanover County so that it might more profitably develop its properties in Hanover County. Henrico County and residents of the Wyndham development in Henrico County opposed extending the road. The County Board of Supervisors removed a portion of Dominion Club Drive from the County's major thoroughfare plan and voted to abandon a portion of the road pursuant to the abandonment provisions found in Title 33.2, effectively precluding HHHunt from extending the road into Hanover County. The circuit court sustained the Board's decisions. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Board's decision was not arbitrary or capricious. View "Loch Levan Land v. Board of Supervisors" on Justia Law

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In this challenge to the action of the Prince George's County Council sitting as the District Council approving a special exception and variance sought by Wal-Mart Real Estate Business Trust regarding an existing store located in the Woodyard Crossing Shopping Center in Clinton, Maryland, the Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the District Council has extensive authority to regulate and establish zoning laws and procedure, which includes special exception and variance application. The ZHE issued a decision denied an application for a special exception and variance sought by Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart filed exceptions to the Zoning Hearing Examiner's (ZHE) decision and requested that the District Council hear the case. Petitioners responded in opposition to Wal-Mart's exceptions. The District Council proceeded to approve Wal-Mart's application for a special exception and variance. The circuit court and Court of Special Appeals affirmed the District Council's decision. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the District Council is authorized to delegate the preparation of its opinion and order to its staff attorney; (2) the District Council rightfully exercises original jurisdiction when hearing zoning cases from the ZHE; and (3) Petitioners failed to present sufficient evidence that the District Council violated the Maryland Open Meetings Act. View "Grant v. County Council of Prince George's County" on Justia Law

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Englewood amended its ordinances to address aggressive antiabortion protests that had been regularly occurring outside of a health clinic that provided reproductive health services, including abortions. Some of the “militant activists and aggressive protestors” support violent reprisal against abortion providers. The ordinance restricted the use of public ways and sidewalks adjacent to healthcare facilities during business hours to persons entering or leaving such facility; the facility's employees and agents; law enforcement, ambulance, firefighting, construction, utilities, public works and other municipal agents within the scope of their employment; and persons using the public way solely to reach another destination. The ordinance created overlapping buffer zones at qualifying facilities. Turco, a non-aggressive “sidewalk counselor,” filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging violations of her First Amendment rights to freedom of speech, assembly, and association. The district court concluded that the statute was overbroad and not narrowly tailored to serve the government’s interest. The Third Circuit reversed, finding that genuine issues of material fact preclude the entry of summary judgment to either side. The buffer zones’ exact impact on the sidewalk counselors’ speech and the concomitant efficacy of their attempts to communicate is unclear. Turco admitted that she continued to speak with patients entering the clinic. The city considered and attempted to implement alternatives before creating the buffer zone. View "Turco v. City of Englewood" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court's judgment dismissing Bragg Hill Corporation's claims against the City of Fredericksburg, holding that the rezoning of property by a city ordinance upon annexation of the property by the city was not void ab initio and did not violate the procedural due process rights of Bragg Hill, the property owner. In the early 1970s the Spotsylvania Planning Commission approved a master plan submitted by Bragg Hill. Bragg Hill built several sections of a townhouse project on the property. The City of Fredericksburg later annexed Bragg Hill's property. The annexed property was zoned into the City's R-1 zoning classification, which did not permit the development of townhouses. Bragg Hill unsuccessfully requested a determination that it had a vested right to develop the property zoned R-1 according to the master plan. The property was later rezoned to an R-2 zoning classification. Bragg Hill then brought this action against the City. The circuit court dismissed the complaint. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the change in the zoning of the property upon annexation was authorized; (2) the issue of whether Bragg Hill had a vested right was previously decided; and (3) Bragg Hill was not deprived of any property interest as a result of the rezoning, and its procedural due process rights were not violated. View "Bragg Hill Corp. v. City of Fredericksburg" on Justia Law

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American Islamic Community Center (AICC) unsuccessfully sought zoning permission to build a mosque in Sterling Heights, Michigan. AICC sued, alleging violations of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act and the First Amendment. The Department of Justice also investigated. The city negotiated a consent judgment that allowed AICC to build the mosque. At the City Council meeting at which the consent judgment was approved, people voiced concerns about issues such as traffic and noise; others disparaged Islam and AICC. Comments and deliberation were punctuated by audience outbursts. Eventually, Mayor Taylor cleared the chamber of all spectators, except the press. The Council voted to settle the case. A consent judgment was entered. Plaintiffs sought a judgment declaring the consent judgment invalid. The Sixth Circuit affirmed summary judgment for the defendants. The defendants fulfilled their procedural obligations; they considered and made findings on the relevant criteria, such as “parking, traffic and overall size,” before voting. The court upheld limitations on speech imposed during the meeting: the relevance rule and a rule forbidding attacks on people and institutions. The city did not “grant the use of a forum to people whose views it finds acceptable, but deny use to those wishing to express less favored or more controversial views.” View "Youkhanna v. City of Sterling Heights" on Justia Law

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Virginia Run Cove is a privately owned Memphis street that offers access to the parking lots of several businesses, including a Planned Parenthood clinic. It is described on county records as “common area” in a commercial development. Brindley sought a preliminary injunction requiring the city to let him stand near the entrance to this clinic and spread his pro-life message. He argued that Virginia Run Cove was a traditional public forum and that his exclusion from the street violated the First Amendment. The Sixth Circuit reversed the district court’s denial of his motion for a preliminary injunction. The Supreme Court has long held that public streets are traditional public fora. Even when a street is privately owned, it remains a traditional public forum if it looks and functions like a public street. Virginia Run Cove, which connects directly to a busy public thoroughfare, displays no sign of private ownership, and is used by the general public to access many nearby buildings, including the clinic, a gas station, a church, and a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office, has all the trappings of a public street. View "Brindley v. City of Memphis" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment upholding the constitutionality of an Arkansas zoning law that prevents adult-oriented businesses from opening within 1,000 feet of schools and other places frequented by children. The court held that Adam and Eve, an adult toy superstore, has not engaged in speech and therefore cannot state a claim under the First Amendment. In this case, Adam and Eve disavowed any express conduct; cited no authority that selling sexually-oriented devices was speech; and expressly and repeatedly rejected that it was an adult-oriented business similar to those found in prior precedent, each of which engaged in protected speech. The court also held that the zoning law was not unconstitutionally vague and does not violate equal protection. The court held that a plaintiff whose conduct is clearly proscribed cannot raise a successful vagueness claim under the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment for lack of notice, and a substantial portion of Adam and Eve's business involves selling items the statute reaches. Finally, Adam and Eve failed to show that the Act treated it differently than similarly situated entities or lacked a rational basis. View "Adam and Eve Jonesboro, LLC v. Perrin" on Justia Law

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Valbruna purchased the steel mill at a 2004 bankruptcy auction and began cleanup efforts under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, 42 U.S.C. 6901. In 2000, Slater, the site’s then-owner, had unsuccessfully sued Joslyn, which had owned and operated the site from 1928-1981, in state court seeking indemnification under the parties’ contract and costs under Indiana’s Environmental Legal Actions (ELA) statute. In 2010, Valbruna sued Joslyn under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), 42 U.S.C. 9613(b), and ELA. Joslyn’s fault is undisputed. Joslyn raised claim-preclusion, statute-of-limitations, and contribution defenses. The district court found that the CERCLA claim was not precluded, but the ELA claim was, and that the suit was timely. The court imposed equitable contribution on Valbruna, requiring it to pay for 25% of past and future cleanup costs. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, agreeing that the CERCLA claim was not precluded. If there is no state-court jurisdiction to hear an exclusively federal claim, there is no claim preclusion. The claim was not barred as being filed more than six years after the start of “remedial action.” Slater’s earlier cleanup was “removal.” While the 25% imposition on a no-fault owner "reached the limits" of the court's discretion, there was no abuse of that discretion. Valbruna understood the site’s pollution problems before purchasing it and apparently paid far less than the asking price; the court was rationally concerned about a windfall for Valbruna. View "Valbruna Slater Steel Corp. v. Joslyn Manufacturing Co." on Justia Law

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The Seventh Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of a class action suit challenging the red light camera program of the Village of Lakemoor. Plaintiffs alleged that the violation notices they received were invalid because the notices lack a proper municipal code citation, and that Lakemoor denied them due process by limiting the defenses that can be asserted before a hearing officer to contest a violation. The court held that the process that plaintiffs received was constitutionally sufficient and therefore they have failed to state a federal due process claim. The court also held that plaintiffs' argument that the violation notices were void ab initio failed as a matter of law, because the "specific reference" provision was directory rather than mandatory. Accordingly, plaintiffs' unjust enrichment claim also failed. View "Knutson v. Village of Lakemoor" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs sought a declaration that the City of Lake Oswego had allow them recreational access to Oswego Lake, either from the shoreline of the city’s waterfront parks (from which the city prohibits all water access) or through the city’s residents-only swim park. According to plaintiffs, the common-law doctrines of public trust and public use protected the public’s right to enter the lake, and the city’s restrictions on access to the lake were contrary to those common-law doctrines. Plaintiffs also contended the city’s restrictions violated the Equal Privileges and Immunities guarantee of the Oregon Constitution. Defendants were the City of Lake Oswego the State of Oregon, and the Lake Oswego Corporation (which held title to riparian rights to the lake). The case reached the Oregon Supreme Court following a summary judgment in which the trial court assumed that the lake was among public waterways to which the doctrine of public trust or public use applied, but held that neither those doctrines nor Article I, section 20, entitled plaintiffs to the declarations they sought. The Court of Appeals affirmed, also without deciding whether the lake was a public waterway. The Supreme Court concluded the trial court correctly granted summary judgment on plaintiffs’ Article I, section 20, challenges. The Court also concluded that neither the public trust nor the public use doctrine granted plaintiffs a right to enter the swim park property and that the public use doctrine did not grant plaintiffs a right to access the water from the waterfront parks. But the Court concluded that, if Oswego Lake was among the navigable waterways that the state held in trust for the public, then neither the state nor the city could unreasonably interfere with the public’s right to enter the water from the abutting waterfront parks. Accordingly, the case was remanded for resolution of the preliminary question of whether the lake was subject to the public trust doctrine and, if the lake was subject to that trust, then for resolution of the factual dispute regarding whether the city’s restriction on entering the lake from the waterfront parks unreasonably interfered with the public’s right to enter the lake from the abutting waterfront parks. View "Kramer v. City of Lake Oswego" on Justia Law