Justia Zoning, Planning & Land Use Opinion Summaries

by
Plaintiff David Demarest filed suit against the Town of Underhill, seeking a declaration that he had a right of vehicle access over a Town trail, and appealing the Selectboard’s decision denying his request for highway access to a proposed new subdivision on his property. The superior court granted summary judgment in favor of the Town, concluding that plaintiff’s request for declaratory relief was barred by claim preclusion and that the Town acted within its discretion in denying the permit. On appeal, plaintiff argued the trial court erred in applying claim preclusion, and that the Town exceeded its authority under the statute in denying his request for access. Finding no reversible error, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed judgment. View "Demarest v. Town of Underhill" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court reversing the order of the City of Bloomington Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) affirming the decision of the City of Bloomington citing UJ-Eighty Corporation for a zoning violation, holding that there were not constitutional violations in this case.UJ-Eighty owned a fraternity house at Indiana University (IU) in Bloomington that was located within a district zoned by the City to permit limited residential uses. UJ-Eighty leased its house to an IU-sanctioned fraternity, but before the lease ended, IU revoked its recognition and approval of the fraternity, which meant that no one could live there. Bloomington cited UJ-Eighty for a zoning violation when two residents remained in the house. The BZA affirmed. UJ-Eighty appealed, arguing that the City impermissibly delegated its zoning authority to IJ by allowing it unilaterally to define fraternities and sororities. The trial court agreed and struck down the ordinance's definition of fraternities and sororities under the state and federal constitutions. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Bloomington did not violate the Fourteenth Amendment because the ordinance was not an impermissible delegation of power or a denial of due process. View "City of Bloomington Board of Zoning Appeals v. UJ-Eighty Corp." on Justia Law

by
PBT, on behalf of itself and the owners of the other condominiums, sought an injunction in state court barring the Town from levying a special assessment against their properties. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of the Town's motion for summary judgment on the owners' substantive due process and equal protection claims. In regard to the substantive due process claim, the court concluded that PBT failed to provide evidence showing that the Town lacked a rational basis in enacting the Resolution as a whole. In regard to the equal protection claim, given the relevant differences between the Comparators and the PB Towers, the court concluded that all that PBT has shown is that the Town Council treated dissimilar properties differently. The court concluded that such treatment does not implicate the Equal Protection Clause. Furthermore, even if they were similar, PBT fails to identify any evidence that an objectively reasonable governmental decisionmaker would consider the similarity it proffers.The court also affirmed the Town's motion to dismiss the owners' state law claims. The court explained that the district court was correct to dismiss the state law takings claims asserted in Count III, but erred in dismissing the state law claim alleging an unconstitutional tax. However, the unconstitutional tax claim was properly before the district court only based on supplemental jurisdiction. Because the federal claims were properly dismissed, the district court may decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over this state law claim on remand. Finally, the court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying the motion to reconsider. View "PBT Real Estate, LLC v. Town of Palm Beach" on Justia Law

by
Sweeney bought the 39-acre Point Buckler Site, located in Suisun Marsh in the San Francisco Bay's Grizzly Bay, which apparently was previously operated as a managed wetland for duck hunting. Sweeney undertook unpermitted construction and development, including restoring an exterior levee and opening a private recreational area for kiteboarding. The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) inspected the Site, noting the unauthorized work and multiple violations; the levee construction work had removed tidal flow to the Site’s interior and dried out tidal marsh areas. BCDC concluded the Site never functioned as a managed wetland and had long reverted to a tidal marsh. Sweeney was directed to stop work and informed that a marsh development permit was required to develop the Site; BCDC indicated that any work that could not be retroactively approved would need to be removed.The Regional Water Quality Control Board commenced separate proceedings, citing violations of the federal Clean Water Act and the California Water Code. BCDC staff observed that additional work had been performed since the earlier inspection. The Board issued a cleanup and abatement order (CAO), imposed administrative civil liabilities and required payment of approximately $2.8 million in penalties. The superior court set aside those orders.The court of appeal reversed. In issuing the CAO, the Board did not violate the requirements of Water Code section 13627; the CAO satisfied the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act criteria for enforcement actions and did not conflict with the Suisun Marsh Preservation Act. The court rejected arguments that the definition of waste cannot include earthen material, that the activities did not constitute “discharges,” and that any discharges were not into “waters of the state.” View "Sweeney v. California Regional Water Quality Control Board" on Justia Law

by
The Moore family, individually or in trust, has owned and maintained the 108-acre Hiram, Ohio property since 1813. They have operated a small airport on the Property since 1948. Around 1951, the Township enacted a zoning resolution that zoned the Property as Rural-Residential and classified the airport as a nonconforming use, permitted to continue so long as the use is not abandoned for two years. The airport remained active in varying degrees but its use for ultralight aircraft and hang gliders started recently, and prompted nuisance complaints from neighbors. In 2016, Township officials told Moore that he needed a certificate of nonconforming use to continue the airport’s operations.The Board of Zoning Appeals voted to grant Moore a certificate but imposed several conditions. The Portage County Common Pleas Court modified the conditions. The Ohio Court of Appeals affirmed.While his state court appeal was pending, Moore filed a federal suit, alleging violations of his procedural and substantive due process rights and his equal protection rights under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The Sixth Circuit affirmed that the suit was barred by principles of claim preclusion. There was a prior final, valid decision on the merits by a court of competent jurisdiction; this action involves the same parties; this action raises claims that were or could have been litigated in the Ohio action; and this suit arose out of the transaction or occurrence that was the subject matter of the Ohio action. View "Moore v. Hiram Township" on Justia Law

by
Grand Prairie Agriculture, LLP, appealed a district court order affirming a decision of the Pelican Township Board of Supervisors to deny Grand Prairie’s petition for approval of the site of a proposed animal feeding operation (“AFO”). The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the Township misinterpreted and misapplied the law in applying setback requirements. The district court’s order was reversed and the matter remanded to the Township for further proceedings. View "Grand Prairie Agriculture v. Pelican Township Board of Supervisors" on Justia Law

by
To advertise its nearby adult bookstore, Lion’s Den displays a billboard, affixed to a tractor-trailer, on a neighbor’s property. Kentucky’s Billboard Act prohibits such off-site billboards if the advertisement is not securely affixed to the ground, the sign is attached to a mobile structure, and no permit has been obtained. None of these requirements applies to an on-site billboard advertisement. The Act applies equally to commercial and non-commercial speech on billboards.In a First Amendment challenge to the Act, the Sixth Circuit affirmed an injunction, prohibiting the Commonwealth from enforcing its law. The Act regulates commercial and non-commercial speech on content-based grounds by distinguishing between messages concerning on-site activities and those concerning off-site activities. The court applied strict scrutiny and held that the Act is not tailored to achieve Kentucky’s purported interests in safety and aesthetics. Kentucky has offered no reason to believe that on-site signs pose a greater threat to safety than do off-site signs and billboards are a "greater eyesore." View "L.D. Management Co. v. Gray" on Justia Law

by
At the center of this appeal was a dispute between the Polo Golf and Country Club Homeowners’ Association (the “HOA”) and Forsyth County over the validity of Section 4.2.2 of Forsyth County’s Addendum to the Georgia Stormwater Management Manual, an ordinance that made HOAs “responsible for maintenance of all drainage easements and all stormwater facilities within the entire development.” The HOA argued that Section 4.2.2 was unconstitutional and otherwise invalid, and that individual lot owners were responsible for maintaining stormwater infrastructure on their lots. Variants of this case were litigated and appealed multiple times before the Georgia Supreme Court and other Georgia courts, including a 2019 appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court. On remand from the Supreme Court's "Polo Golf II" decision, the trial court evaluated and rejected the HOA’s remaining claims that Section 4.2.2 was invalid because it required the HOA to trespass on the private property of homeowners, constituted involuntary servitude under the United States and Georgia Constitutions, and exceeded the scope of the ordinance that authorized Forsyth County to promulgate the Addendum. The trial court thus denied the HOA’s motion for summary judgment and granted the defendants’ cross-motion for summary judgment. The HOA appealed. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Polo Golf & County Club Homeowners Assn., Inc. v. Cunard et al." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the circuit court reversing the decision of the Deuel County Board of Adjustment granting special exception permits (SEP) to Deuel Harvest Wind Energy, LLC and Deuel Harvest Wind Energy South, LLC (Deuel Harvest) to develop two wind energy systems in the County, holding that the circuit court erred by invalidating the votes of two Board members.Following a public hearing, the Board unanimously approved the SEPs. Appellees, several residents of Deuel County and neighboring counties, petitioned for a writ of certiorari, asserting that several Board members had interests or biases disqualifying them from considering the permits. The circuit court invalidated the votes of two Board members due to disqualifying interests and overturned the Board's approval of the SEPs. The Supreme Court reversed in part and reinstated the Board's unanimous vote in approving the SEPs, holding that the circuit court erred in disqualifying the two members from voting on the SEPs. View "Holborn v. Deuel County Board of Adjustment" on Justia Law

by
The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's ruling that three local zoning ordinances are constitutional under the Takings Clause and the Due Process Clause, and that Clayland's equitable claims are moot. In this case, Bill No. 1214 reduced the permissible density of residential properties from four units per acre to one unit per two acres and prohibited subdividing any existing parcel into more than one additional lot. Bill No. 1229 established seven tier classifications related to "the type of subdivision and the kind of wastewater treatment system planned for each subdivision type." Bill No. 1257 extended Bill No. 1214's restrictions on Village Center zones (including the decreased density of residential units and the limitations on new subdivisions) until Talbot County "adopt[ed] . . . comprehensive rezoning and land use regulations regarding density . . . pursuant to the County's comprehensive plan."The court concluded that Bill Nos. 1214 and 1257 do not constitute a taking where the balance of the Penn Central factors ultimately favors the County. The court explained that Bill Nos. 1214 and 1257 were public-benefit regulations that did not deprive Clayland of all development potential and—most significantly, and perhaps even decisively—did not divest Clayland of any vested rights. The court also concluded that Bill Nos. 1214, 1257, and 1229 do not constitute a substantive due process violation. Finally, the court concluded that Clayland's equitable claims are moot. View "Clayland Farm Enterprises, LLC v. Talbot County" on Justia Law