Justia Zoning, Planning & Land Use Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Civil Procedure
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A group of residents from the Rafter J Ranch Subdivision in Teton County, Wyoming, appealed the Teton County Board of County Commissioners' approval of a petition by Stage Stop, Inc. to amend the Rafter J Planned Unit Development (PUD) to allow the use of Lot 333 for workforce apartments. The residents, referred to as Objectors, argued that the Board's decision was subject to judicial review, that the Board erred by allowing the PUD Amendment without requiring a vacation of the Rafter J Subdivision Plat, and that the Board's approval of the PUD Amendment was arbitrary, capricious, and not in accordance with the law.The District Court of Teton County affirmed the Board's decision. The Objectors then appealed to the Supreme Court of Wyoming. The Objectors argued that the Board's decision was a legislative act and therefore not subject to judicial review. They also claimed that the Board did not follow the proper procedure for amending the PUD and that the Board did not properly consider the requirement that the PUD Amendment comply with the underlying base zoning to the maximum extent practicable.The Supreme Court of Wyoming affirmed the lower court's decision. The court found that the Board's approval of the PUD Amendment was subject to judicial review to determine whether the Board followed its rules and regulations. The court also found that the Board properly considered Stage Stop's request to amend the PUD and that the Board's decision had no effect on any private contractual rights which the Objectors may have from the Plat restrictions. The court concluded that the Board followed the Land Development Regulations (LDRs) and made reasonable choices in approving the PUD Amendment. View "Brazinski v. Board of County Commissioners" on Justia Law

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A group called Protect Our Parks, Inc. (POP) has been challenging the location of the planned Obama Presidential Center in Chicago's historic Jackson Park. The Center, which is currently under construction, is being built on a site selected by the Barack Obama Foundation. POP argues that the park should have been off-limits and that the Center could have been placed elsewhere. They have raised multiple arguments based on federal and state law to prevent the construction of the Center in the park.Previously, POP had asked the court to halt construction until its federal-law theories were resolved. However, the court declined to grant the preliminary injunction as POP failed to show that it was likely to succeed with those contentions. The district court also refused POP’s request to amend its pleadings and dismissed the state-law causes of action. The district court then awarded summary judgment against POP on the federal-law theories.In the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, POP asked the court to overturn the district court’s final judgment in its entirety. However, the court found that POP’s arguments remained unpersuasive and identified no legal error in the earlier analysis of POP’s case. The court also concluded that POP’s state-law theories were rightly dismissed and that the district court did not abuse its discretion when it denied POP’s motion to amend the complaint. Therefore, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Protect Our Parks, Inc. v. Buttigieg" on Justia Law

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The plaintiff, Newfound Serenity, LLC, sought to develop a seasonal recreational vehicle park and applied for site plan approval from the Town of Hebron's Planning Board. The Planning Board denied the application, citing seven reasons. Newfound Serenity appealed this decision to both the Housing Appeals Board (HAB) and the Town’s Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA). The HAB dismissed the appeal as untimely, while the ZBA overturned four of the Planning Board's reasons for denial, upheld one, and stated it lacked authority to address the remaining two. Newfound Serenity then filed a complaint in superior court, seeking review of both the Planning Board and ZBA decisions. The Superior Court dismissed the complaint in its entirety, based on the HAB's initial dismissal.The Superior Court agreed with the Town's argument that Newfound Serenity had effectively bifurcated its initial appeal, with the ZBA reviewing zoning ordinance-related reasons for denial and the HAB reviewing reasons outside the ZBA's jurisdiction. The Town argued that since the HAB dismissed the plaintiff’s appeal as untimely, and the plaintiff did not appeal the dismissal, the Planning Board’s decision on those issues became final. Therefore, even if the superior court were to reverse the ZBA’s decision, such a reversal would be moot because the Planning Board’s denial based on the two other reasons would remain effective. The Town also argued that because the plaintiff appealed the Planning Board decision in part to the HAB, the plaintiff waived its right to bring an action in superior court.The Supreme Court of New Hampshire reversed the Superior Court's decision, concluding that the dismissal of the complaint was inconsistent with the statutes governing appeals from planning board decisions. The court found that the plaintiff's initial appeal to the HAB was not late, but premature, as the ZBA had not yet resolved the issues. The court held that the dismissal of a premature appeal by the HAB while the ZBA appeal was pending did not foreclose the plaintiff from pursuing its complaint in superior court. View "Newfound Serenity, LLC v. Town of Hebron" on Justia Law

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The case involves Sanimax USA, LLC, who sued the City of South Saint Paul, Minnesota, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that the city's zoning and odor ordinances violated the First Amendment and Equal Protection Clause. Sanimax contended that the city enacted these ordinances in retaliation for Sanimax challenging prior ordinances and that the ordinances unfairly singled out Sanimax. The district court granted the city's motion for summary judgment on all counts.Sanimax operates a rendering plant in South Saint Paul that processes animal carcasses and organic byproducts, emitting pungent, foul odors that have drawn numerous complaints from nearby residents and businesses. Sanimax was designated as a "Significant Odor Generator" by the city, and later challenged the constitutionality of the city's odor ordinance, alleging that it was unconstitutionally vague.The United States Court of Appeals For the Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision. The Court found that Sanimax failed to show that the city's actions were a direct retaliation for Sanimax's prior lawsuits challenging the city's ordinances. Additionally, the Court rejected Sanimax's argument that it was unfairly singled out, finding that Sanimax was not similarly situated to other businesses due to the significantly higher number of odor complaints it generated. Lastly, the Court rejected Sanimax's argument that the city's odor ordinance was unconstitutionally vague, finding that the ordinance provided sufficient notice of the prohibited conduct and did not lend itself to arbitrary enforcement. View "Sanimax USA, LLC v. City of South St. Paul" on Justia Law

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The case involves a zoning enforcement action initiated by the Town of Pawlet against landowner Daniel Banyai. Banyai launched a firearms training facility on his property in 2017, which was found to be in violation of the town's Uniform Zoning Bylaws. The Environmental Division issued a judgment in 2021, ordering Banyai to remove unpermitted structures and have his property surveyed within 30 days. Banyai failed to comply with these orders, leading to the imposition of contempt sanctions.The contempt sanctions included fines of $200 per day until all violations were rectified, and the potential for Banyai's arrest. The court also granted the town permission to enter Banyai's property to remove the unpermitted structures if he continued to ignore the orders.Banyai appealed, arguing that the sanctions were punitive and violated the excessive fines clause of the U.S. Constitution. However, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed the Environmental Division's decision, deeming Banyai’s arguments an impermissible collateral attack on a final order. The court stated that Banyai had failed to challenge the February 2023 contempt order or denial of reconsideration by a timely direct appeal, which would have been the appropriate channel for his grievances. As a result, his attempt to challenge the determinations now were considered an impermissible collateral attack on the February 2023 contempt order. View "Town of Pawlet v. Banyai" on Justia Law

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In this case, the plaintiff, Chicago Joe's Tea Room LLC, had plans to open an adult entertainment business in a suburb of Chicago. However, the Village of Broadview denied the plaintiff's application for a special-use permit, which led to the plaintiff claiming that their constitutional rights were violated. The plaintiff sought millions of dollars in lost profits for the business that never opened. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois excluded most of the plaintiff's evidence and theories for lost-profit damages due to substantive and procedural issues. The court then awarded the plaintiff just $15,111 in damages. The plaintiff appealed, but the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed the decision of the lower court, finding no abuses of discretion. The appellate court stated that the plaintiff's calculations of lost profits were beyond the scope of the plaintiff's personal knowledge of a similar business and required expert-like analysis and adjustments. The court also ruled that the plaintiff failed to disclose necessary damages evidence in a timely manner, a violation of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The plaintiff was also denied the opportunity to amend their complaint to challenge a state statute, as the request was made a decade after the issue became relevant. The court found that granting the amendment would have caused undue delay and prejudice to the Village. View "Chicago Joe's Tea Room, LLC v. Village of Broadview" on Justia Law

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In the case before the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, One Love Housing, LLC, a company that operates a residential sober living home in Anoka, Minnesota, sued the City of Anoka for refusing to grant a waiver from the city's zoning regulations. The regulations permit only a single family or a group of not more than four unrelated persons to reside together in the area where the sober home is located. One Love wanted to accommodate seven unrelated recovering addicts in the home. One Love and two residents of the home alleged that the city violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fair Housing Act by refusing to grant this waiver.The district court granted One Love summary judgment on its claim that the city failed to reasonably accommodate the sober home's request. The court ordered the city to grant the waiver for One Love to house seven unrelated individuals recovering from substance abuse. The city appealed this decision.The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's decision and remanded the case for further proceedings. The appellate court held that the district court erred by considering evidence that was not presented to the city council when it denied One Love's request for a waiver. The appellate court also found that the district court erred in granting summary judgment to One Love because there was a genuine dispute over whether the requested accommodation was reasonable and necessary. The court stated that the financial viability of One Love's sober home is relevant only if One Love can prove that the service it offers provides a therapeutic benefit that is necessary for people recovering from alcohol or drug abuse to successfully live in a residential neighborhood without relapsing. The court concluded that there are genuine issues of disputed fact on these issues. The court also declined to rule on One Love's disparate treatment and disparate impact claims, leaving those for the district court to address on remand. View "One Love Housing, LLC v. City of Anoka, MN" on Justia Law

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In the case involving Katherine Blumenkron, David Blumenkron, and Springville Investors, LLC, versus Multnomah County, the Metro Regional Government, and members of the Oregon Land Conservation and Development Commission, the plaintiffs challenged the designation of their land in Multnomah County, Oregon, as "rural reserves" under the Oregon Land Reserves Statute. They claimed that the statute and regulations facially violate the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the federal constitution, and that the defendants’ rural reserve designations violated their federal procedural due process, substantive due process, and equal protection rights. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of plaintiffs’ facial and as-applied constitutional challenges to the designation, concluding that the requirements for Burford abstention (a doctrine that allows federal courts to refrain from deciding a case in deference to state courts) were met for each of the as-applied claims. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by abstaining from exercising jurisdiction over the claims in their entirety, including plaintiffs’ claims for damages. The court concluded that plaintiffs had abandoned their facial constitutional claims on appeal and therefore affirmed the district court’s dismissal of these claims for failure to state a claim as a matter of law. View "BLUMENKRON V. MULTNOMAH COUNTY" on Justia Law

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In 1999, Bernard Stockwell had his agriculturally zoned property in McCook County, South Dakota, replatted into five individual lots. In 2022, he sought an opinion from the McCook County Zoning Administrator on the number of building eligibilities for his lots. The Zoning Administrator determined that all five lots shared one building eligibility, based on her interpretation of the 2014 McCook County Zoning Ordinance. Stockwell appealed this decision to the McCook County Board of Adjustment (BOA), arguing each lot should have its own building eligibility. The BOA sided with the Zoning Administrator.Stockwell then petitioned the Circuit Court for a writ of certiorari and sought declaratory relief. The County sought summary judgment, which the Circuit Court granted. Stockwell appealed to the Supreme Court of South Dakota.The Supreme Court reversed the Circuit Court’s decision. The Court held that the 2014 zoning ordinance unambiguously refers to its own effective date, and the Circuit Court erred by not applying this definition, despite recognizing that Stockwell’s lots meet this definition. The Court also noted that if the County wishes to change the definition, it is up to the County’s legislative body, not the courts, to do so. View "Stockwell V. Mccook County Board Of Commissioners" on Justia Law

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In the case before the Supreme Court of the State of South Dakota, Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores and One Shot, LLC, filed a petition against the City of Wall, South Dakota, City Council, and Planning and Zoning Commission for the City. Love’s, a corporation that operates 24-hour truck stops, entered into an agreement to purchase a 13-acre parcel of land from One Shot, contingent on obtaining the necessary zoning and permitting approvals from the city. After the City Council denied Love's rezoning and building permit applications, Love’s filed a petition for writ of mandamus, writ of certiorari, and request for declaratory relief with the circuit court. The circuit court granted Love's petition in part, declaring that the City’s Zoning Ordinance did not apply to the property and required the City to reconsider Love's application for a building permit. The City Council reconsidered and again denied Love's building permit application. Love’s then filed a motion for order to show cause requesting the circuit court to find the City in contempt of the court’s order and sought issuance of a building permit. The circuit court found the City in contempt and ordered the City to issue Love's a building permit. The City appealed.The South Dakota Supreme Court reversed the circuit court's decision. The Supreme Court found that the circuit court order was clearly erroneous in finding that the City willfully and contumaciously violated the court’s order to reconsider and vote on Love's requested building permit. The Supreme Court also noted that the circuit court’s remedy for its finding of contempt was inconsistent with the purpose of civil contempt and exceeded its authority by imposing a punitive, rather than coercive civil contempt remedy. The court's order to issue a building permit was punitive and denied the City the opportunity to purge itself of contempt and come into compliance with the original court order. Therefore, the Supreme Court reversed the circuit court’s finding of contempt and the order issuing a building permit to Love's. View "Love’s Travel Stops V. City Of Wall" on Justia Law