Justia Zoning, Planning & Land Use Opinion Summaries

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The Insalacos own property atop of a slope. At the bottom of the slope is Wilkie Creek. Hope Lutheran Church owns property on the other side of the creek. After a landslide made their house uninhabitable, the Insalacos sued the Church and adjoining landowners, including the Du/Wongs. They alleged that water runoff from the Church caused the creek to rise, which caused their backyard to flood. The flooding saturated the soil in their backyard, which caused the landslide. The Du/Wongs filed a cross-complaint, alleging tort causes of action related to the landslide and seeking indemnification. The court granted the Church summary judgment. The court of appeal reversed The trial court erred in denying a timely motion by the Insalacos for a continuance to take additional discovery (a site inspection) and oppose the summary judgment motion. They presented a detailed declaration from their attorney explaining the particular facts essential to opposing the motion that may exist but could not then be presented. As to the Du/Wongs, concededly material facts were disputed. The Church placed at issue how much rain fell on the date of the incident, whether there are “two ways in which water flow in a creek could destabilize a slope,” and whether the channel of Wilkie Creek is stable and shows no evidence of recent erosion. View "Insalaco v. Hope Lutheran Church of West Contra Costa County" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court, holding that an amendment to the City of Providence's zoning ordinance that restricted the number of college students who may live together in single-family homes in certain residential areas in Providence did not violate Plaintiffs' right to equal protection or due process under the Rhode Island Constitution. Plaintiffs, a real estate investment company, and four individuals who were college students and housemates leasing the real estate investment company's property, filed a declaratory judgment action against the City seeking to invalidate the amendment, arguing that the City had violated the Due Process Clause and Equal Protection Clause of the Rhode Island Constitution. The hearing justice entered judgment in favor of the City. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the amendment was rationally related to the legitimate state purpose of preserving the residential character of certain neighborhoods and that there was no constitutional violation. View "Federal Hill Capital, LLC v. City of Providence" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Benjamin McCormick brought this action against the State of Oregon for injuries he sustained while recreating in Lake Billy Chinook. The State moved for summary judgment, asserting that it was entitled to recreational immunity under ORS 105.682. In response, plaintiff contended that the state did not “directly or indirectly permit” the public to use the lake for recreational purposes. Specifically, he contended that, under both the public trust doctrine and the public use doctrine, the public already had a right to use the lake for recreational purposes and, therefore, the State did not “permit” that use. The trial court granted the State summary judgment, but the Court of Appeals reversed. On review, the Oregon Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals decision. For the purposes of the recreational immunity statute, the Supreme Court held an owner could “permit” public recreational use of its land, even if it could not completely prohibit that use. More specifically, an owner could “permit” public recreational use of its land if, among other alternatives, it made that use possible by creating access to and developing the land for that use. View "McCormick v. Oregon Parks & Recreation Dept." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs SLPR, L.L.C. (SLPR), Ann Goodfellow, trustee of the survivor's trust of the Goodfellow Family Trust (Goodfellow), and Jerry Cannon and Michael Morris, trustees of the Sewall Family Trust (Sewall) (together Plaintiffs) appealed a judgment entered in favor of defendant State of California (State) in their action against State and the San Diego Unified Port District (Port) (together Defendants) arising out of damage to their bayside properties in the City of Coronado (City) allegedly caused by dredging of the San Diego Bay (Bay). The United States Navy dredged an area of the Bay within the Naval Air Station North Island Turning Basin in 1998 and 2002 and the United States Army Corps of Engineers (Army) dredged the central navigation channel of the Bay from 2004 to 2005. In a previous decision relating to this matter, the Court of Appeal concluded, inter alia, the trial court erred in granting summary judgment on Plaintiffs' quiet title action because there were triable issues of material fact on the meaning of a facially ambiguous 1931 judgment in favor of City and against J.D. and A.B. Spreckels Investment Company (Spreckels), owner of real property along the Bay's shoreline and Plaintiffs' predecessor-in-interest, and other defendants regarding whether that judgment fixed the bayside boundaries of Plaintiffs' properties or whether it located only the current position of the mean high tide line (MHTL) at that time and retained the ambulatory MHTL as the legal boundaries of their properties. On remand, Plaintiffs filed a third amended complaint, alleging causes of action for quiet title, inverse condemnation related to the quiet title cause of action (by SLPR and Arendsee), inverse condemnation (by Plaintiffs), nuisance, and removal of lateral support. The trial court sustained State's demurrer to the third, fourth, and fifth causes of action. The court subsequently conducted a bench trial on the first and second causes of action and, after admitting and considering extrinsic evidence regarding the meaning of the Spreckels judgment, found that the judgment had fixed the boundaries between Plaintiffs' properties and the public tidelands. The court then entered judgment in favor of State and against Plaintiffs. Finding no reversible error in that judgment, the Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court. View "SLPR, L.L.C. v. San Diego Unified Port District" on Justia Law

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Petitioner New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) appealed a decision by the New Hampshire Wetlands Council remanding an administrative order issued by DES that directed respondents Bryan and Linda Corr to cease and desist unpermitted work on their lakefront property. The Corrs owned property in Moultonborough located on the shore of Lake Winnipesaukee. When they purchased the property, it contained a dry boathouse, positioned approximately two feet from the shore, which was partially collapsed as a result of snow load. The boathouse was considered a “grandfathered” or nonconforming structure for purposes of the Shoreland Protection Act. The Corrs made plans to replace the boathouse. They hired a land use consultant to assist them with the process, which required approvals from the Town of Moultonborough, as well as DES. After obtaining the building permit from the Town and the PBN from DES, the Corrs commenced construction. They spent over $100,000 on the permitted structure. When the structure was framed and nearing completion, DES visited the site to conduct an inspection, purportedly in response to a complaint the department had received. Subsequently, DES issued a Letter of Deficiency to the Corrs informing them that the structure was 27 feet tall, and therefore not compliant with DES regulations. The Corrs appealed DES’ administrative order to the Council. In their appeal, the Corrs raised four alternative arguments as to how DES had acted unlawfully and unreasonably in issuing its order. The New Hampshire Supreme Court agreed with the Corrs that DES did not have the authority to limit the height of their structure. The COurt affirmed the Council's decision to the extent that it concluded that a 12-foot height restriction did not apply to the Corrs’ structure. However, the Court vacated all other aspects of the Council’s decision, remanding with instructions to grant the Corrs’ appeal and to vacate DES’ administrative order, which relied solely on the alleged height violation. In light of the result reached, the Court did not address any additional arguments raised by the parties. View "Appeal of New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services" on Justia Law

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The issue presented for the Louisiana Supreme Court's review stemmed from a class action suit relating to plaintiffs' inverse condemnation claims against the State, and whether those claims were prescribed under La. R.S. 13:5111 and/or 28 U.S.C. 2501. In 2006, plaintiffs Steve Crooks and Era Lea Crooks filed a “Class Action Petition to Fix Boundary, For Damages and For Declaration [sic] Judgment.” The Crookses alleged that they represented a class of landowners in the Catahoula Basin whose property is affected by the increased water levels from a congressionally-approved navigation project authorized under the River and Harbor Act of 1960 to promote navigation on the Ouachita and Black Rivers. In conjunction with that project, the State of Louisiana signed an “Act of Assurances,” which obligated the State to provide the federal government with all lands and property interests necessary to the project free of charge, and to indemnify the federal government from any damages resulting from the project. Ultimately, the trial court certified the plaintiffs as one class, but subdivided that class into two groups – the “Lake Plaintiffs” and the “Swamp Plaintiffs” – depending on the location of the properties affected. The lower courts relied on the decision in Cooper v. Louisiana Department of Public Works, 870 So. 2d 315 (2004) to conclude the one-year prescriptive period for damage to immovable property found in La. C.C. art. 3493 governed and the continuing tort doctrine applied to prevent the running of prescription on the plaintiffs’ claims. The Supreme Court determined the lower courts erred in relying on Cooper and held that the three-year prescriptive period for actions for compensation for property taken by the state set forth in La. R. S. 13:5111 governed, and plaintiffs’ inverse condemnation claims were prescribed. View "Crooks v. Louisiana Dept. of Nat. Resources" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of the superior court affirming a decision of the Town of York Board of Appeals purporting to grant Daniel and Susan Raposa's appeal from a decision of the Town's Code Enforcement Officer (CEO), holding that because the Board's written findings of fact directly nullified its decision to grant the appeal, the matter must be remanded for further proceedings. The Raposas contacted the Town's CEO to express their concern that Joshua Gammon's use of his property was not consistent with his predecessor's lawful nonconforming use. The CEO determined that Gammon's operation of his business on his property was not a change in use from his predecessor's use of the property. On appeal, the Board granted the Raposas' appeal as to the change-of-use issue. In the Board's written decision, however, the Board stated, "The use of the lot by Mr. Gammon's landscaping business does not constitute a change of use but is an intensification of the same use." The superior court affirmed, concluding that the Board's written decision was the operative decision for judicial review. The Supreme Judicial Court held that because the Board's written decision contained factual findings directly contradicting its initial decision, the matter must be remanded for further proceedings. View "Raposa v. Town of York" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the business and consumer docket vacating a decision by the Town of Lamoine Board of Appeals that reversed the Town Planning Board's denial of Hard MacQuinn, Inc.'s application for a permit under the Town's site plan review ordinance and affirming and reinstating the Planning Board's decision, holding that the lower court did not err. Specifically, the Supreme Judicial Court held (1) the Me. R. Civ. P. 80B complaint filed by Friends of Lamoine and Jeffrey Dow as Trustee for the Tweedie Trust was timely; (2) the Board of Appeals properly conducted appellate review of the site plan permit decision rather than de novo review; (3) the Planning Board’s findings in denying the permit were supported by substantial evidence; and (4) MacQuinn's argument that the Planning Board should have waived a criterion of the ordinance as duplicative or inapplicable did not require discussion. View "Friends of Lamoine v. Town of Lamoine" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals ruling that Appellant's complaint for a writ of mandamus is barred by the doctrine of res judicata, holding that the court of appeals correctly applied res judicata to Appellant's claim. Appellant went into the office of the Plain Township zoning inspector to complain about a neighbor's trees, and the inspector told Appellant that the trees did not violate the zoning code. Appellant later filed a mandamus action seeking to compel the inspector and the Plain Township Board of Trustees to enforce the zoning provision against his neighbor. The court of appeals dismissed the complaint. Two years later, Appellant attempted to appeal the inspector's initial decision, but the board of zoning appeals dismissed the appeal as untimely. Appellant then filed a second mandamus action in the court of appeals seeking to compel the inspector to issue his initial decision in writing. The court of appeals held that res judicata barred the claim because Appellant could have asserted that claim in his first mandamus action. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the court of appeals correctly applied res judicata to Appellant's claim against the inspector in this case. View "State ex rel. Armatas v. Plain Township Board of Zoning Appeals" on Justia Law

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In 2011, San Jose acquired the Willow Glen Railroad Trestle, constructed in 1922, planning to demolish the Trestle and replace it with a new steel truss pedestrian bridge. The city approved the project, adopted a mitigated negative declaration (MND) under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) (Pub. Resources Code 21000), and found that the Trestle was not a historical resource. The Trestle was not listed in the California Register of Historical Resources. Had it been listed, the city would have been statutorily mandated to consider it a historical resource. In 2017, the California State Historical Resources Commission approved the listing of the Trestle. In 2018, the city submitted to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) a “Notification of Lake or Streambed Alteration” for the project. The city's 2014 Streambed Alteration Agreement (SAA) had expired. CDFW signed the final SAA, finding that the project would not have any significant impacts on fish or wildlife “with the measures specified in the 2014 MND and the [SAA].” The Conservancy unsuccessfully sought judicial intervention. The court of appeal affirmed. The city’s actions in obtaining the 2018 SAA did not require supplemental environmental review; the approval of the MND in 2014 included approval of the SAA and obtaining the new SAA did not involve any “new discretionary approval.” View "Willow Glen Trestle Conservancy v. City of San Jose" on Justia Law