Justia Zoning, Planning & Land Use Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Civil Procedure
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The plaintiffs brought this action after the defendant modified a storm water drainage system, allegedly causing flooding onto their property. The plaintiffs raised two distinct claims that remained at issue on appeal: a claim under the sewage-disposal-system- event (SDSE) exception to governmental immunity under the governmental tort liability act (GTLA), and a common-law trespass-nuisance claim seeking injunctive relief. The trial court dismissed both claims as untimely under the applicable three-year statute of limitations. Like the Court of Appeals, the Michigan Supreme Court disagreed, holding the SDSE claim, which sought relief only in connection with flooding that occurred within the three-year window, was timely. However, unlike the Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court concluded that because the defendant was immune with respect to the plaintiffs’ common-law trespass-nuisance claim, that claim was properly dismissed. In light of this holding, the Court vacated as unnecessary the Court of Appeals’ holding that the trespass-nuisance claim was timely. Finally, because the plaintiffs only sought injunctive relief in connection with that claim, their request for an injunction was invalid. Therefore, the Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment to the defendant with respect to the plaintiff’s SDSE claim, affirmed with respect to the common-law trespass-nuisance claim, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Sunrise Resort Association, Inc. v. Cheboygan County Road Commission" on Justia Law

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In 1992, the Crow Tribe brought a declaratory action against Wyoming Game and Fish officials to determine whether the 1868 Treaty with the Crows afforded it an unrestricted right to hunt in the Bighorn National Forest. Relying on a line of prior Supreme Court cases interpreting Indian treaties, the federal district court in Wyoming held in Crow Tribe of Indians v. Repsis (Repsis I), 866 F. Supp. 520 (D. Wyo. 1994), that Wyoming’s admission as a state extinguished the Tribe’s treaty hunting rights (the “Statehood Holding”). In Crow Tribe of Indians v. Repsis (Repsis II), 73 F.3d 982 (10th Cir. 1995), the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s Statehood Holding. Alternatively, the Tenth Circuit held that the Bighorn National Forest was “occupied,” so the Tribe’s treaty hunting rights would not have applied to the area in question (the “Occupation Rationale”), and also reasoned that Wyoming could have justified its restrictions on hunting due to its interest in conservation (the “Conservation Necessity Rationale”). In 2019, the Supreme Court decided Herrera v. Wyoming, 139 S. Ct. 1686 (2019), in response to Wyoming’s attempts to prosecute a Tribe member for hunting in Bighorn National Forest. Critically, the Court held that the Tribe’s treaty rights had not been extinguished by Wyoming’s admittance as a state and that Bighorn National Forest was not categorically “occupied.” On remand, Wyoming continued its efforts to prosecute the Tribe’s member, arguing in part that the defendant could not assert a treaty right to hunt in Bighorn National Forest because Repsis II continued to bind the Tribe and its members through the doctrine of issue preclusion. The Tribe moved for relief from Repsis II under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b). But the district court denied the Tribe’s motion, holding that it lacked the power to grant relief because the Tenth Circuit relied on alternative grounds for affirmance (the Occupation and Conservation Necessity Rationales) that the district court had not considered in Repsis I. The Tribe appealed, arguing that the district court legally erred when it held that it lacked the power to review the Tribe’s Rule 60(b) motion. The Tenth Circuit concluded the district court abused its discretion when it held that it lacked the authority to review the Tribe’s motion for post-judgment relief. The matter was remanded again for further proceedings. View "Crow Tribe of Indians, et al. v. Repsis, et al." on Justia Law

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Lance Hagen filed a public records request related to a condemnation case he was a party to involving the City of Lincoln and North Dakota Insurance Reserve Fund (“NDIRF”). Hagen sought to determine how the City of Lincoln and NDIRF spent approximately $1.1 million dollars on litigation costs defending the action. NDIRF did not produce all requested records, and the parties sought relief from the district court. Hagen appealed the district court’s judgment that concluded certain documents belonging to NDIRF were exempt from release under the potential liability exception outlined in N.D.C.C. § 44-04-19.1(8). Hagen argued the court abused its discretion by finding NDIRF itself faced potential liability because its members could face potential liability, and because the court discussed the fiscal effect of a disclosure on NDIRF, which Hagen argued exceeded the scope of the North Dakota Supreme Court’s remand order in Hagen v. North Dakota Insurance Reserve Fund, 971 N.W.2d 833. Because the Supreme Court concluded the potential liability exception under N.D.C.C. § 44-04-19.1(8) did not apply to any of the documents determined by the district court to be exempt, the Court reversed. View "Hagen v. N.D. Insurance Reserve Fund" on Justia Law

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Courage to Change Recovery Ranch, recently known as Soaring Hope Recovery Center, provided treatment and housing for people recovering from drug and alcohol addictions in a single-family neighborhood in El Paso County, Colorado. But Soaring Hope claimed the County’s strict occupancy limits, standards for group homes for disabled persons, and policies restricting what treatment options Soaring Hope could provide in a single-family zone led Soaring Hope to close its home in a single-family neighborhood (the Spruce Road home). The Tenth Circuit determined the County violated the Fair Housing Act Amendments (FHAA) by imposing facially discriminatory occupancy limits on group homes for disabled persons without a legally permissible justification. Though Soaring Hope showed standing to challenge the occupancy limits which directly injured it, Soaring Hope did not show standing to challenge the standards for group homes for disabled persons—no evidence shows that the County enforced the standards against Soaring Hope. The Tenth Circuit also held that the district court erred by granting summary judgment against Soaring Hope on its zoning-out claim for intentional discrimination: Soaring Hope raised a genuine issue of material fact about whether the County had prohibited certain therapeutic activities in its Spruce Road home while allowing those same activities in other structured group-living arrangements and residential homes. The case was remanded for the district court to further address the zoning-out claim. The judgment was affirmed in all other respects. View "Courage to Change, et al. v. El Paso County" on Justia Law

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This appeal was the second relating to a suit brought by the City of Hesperia (the City) against respondents Lake Arrowhead Community Services District and the Board of Directors of Lake Arrowhead Community Services District (jointly, the District) regarding a proposed 0.96-megawatt solar photovoltaic project (the Solar Project) that the District had been planning to develop on six acres of a 350-acre property it owned, known as the Hesperia Farms Property. The Hesperia Farms Property was located within the City’s municipal boundary and was generally subject to the City’s zoning regulations. The District first approved its Solar Project in December 2015, after determining that the project was either absolutely exempt from the City’s zoning regulations under Government Code section 53091, or qualifiedly exempt under Government Code section 53096. The City sought a writ of mandate prohibiting the District from further pursuing the Solar Project. In Hesperia I, the Court of Appeal determined the District’s Solar Project was not exempt from the City’s zoning regulations under Government Code section 53091’s absolute exemption, or under Government Code section 53096’s qualified exemption. The Court concluded, however, that Government Code section 52096’s qualified exemption did not apply to the District’s approval of the Solar Project only because the District had failed to provide substantial evidence to support its conclusion that there was no other feasible alternative to its proposed location for the Solar Project. This result left open the possibility that the District could undertake further analyses and show that there was no feasible alternative to the Solar Project’s proposed location in order to avoid application of the City’s zoning ordinances. A few months after the District made its second no-feasible-alternative determination with respect to the Solar Project, the City filed a second petition for writ of mandate and complaint challenging the Solar Project. The trial court ultimately denied the City’s second petition. When the City appealed, the Court of Appeal concluded the trial court did not err in rejecting the City’s petition for writ of mandate. View "City of Hesperia v. Lake Arrowhead Community Services Dist." on Justia Law

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In 2006 and 2013, the Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency (the Corridor Agency) approved extensions of California State Route 241, and the Environmental Parties along with other environmental organizations and the California Attorney General filed lawsuits challenging those approvals. In 2016, after years of litigation, the Corridor Agency entered a settlement agreement to resolve the litigation. The Corridor Agency continued its planning efforts and identified several alternatives for the transportation project. While these efforts were in progress, the Reserve Maintenance Corporation (the Reserve), a homeowner’s association, filed a lawsuit seeking to protect the interest of their homeowners in avoiding an extension of State Route 241 near their community. In 2020, after three years of litigation, during which the Reserve lost a petition for a restraining order and motions for summary adjudication and faced the prospect of dispositive motions from the other side, they agreed to dismiss their lawsuit. However, they moved for attorney fees and costs on the ground they were successful parties in the litigation under Code of Civil Procedure section 1021.5. In March 2020, the Corridor Agency chose to proceed with a road construction alternative that steered clear of both an "Avoidance Area" and the Reserve Community, and the Reserve argued their litigation caused the agency to make that choice, meaning their litigation was successful as a catalyst of change. The Environmental Parties also moved for attorney fees on the ground they were successful parties because they gained the dismissal, and both they and the Corridor Agency moved for costs as prevailing parties under Code of Civil Procedure section 1032. The trial judge denied the request for attorney fees under section 1021.5 by both parties. The Court of Appeal concluded the trial judge did not abuse her discretion in concluding the catalyst theory didn’t apply to this case but erred as a matter of law by exempting the Reserve from an award of attorney fees under In re Joshua S., 42 Cal.4th 945 (2008) and Save Our Heritage Organisation v. City of San Diego, 11 Cal.App.5th 154 (2017). The Court also concluded the trial judge did not abuse her discretion in awarding costs under section 1032 or by refusing to apportion costs. View "City of San Clemente v. Dept. of Transportation" on Justia Law

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Ocie Payne Hinkle (Ocie)2 was an 89-year-old woman who owned several parcels of property in Los Angeles, California. Ocie has an adult son, Ocy. A few years earlier, Ocie had started a relationship with Roi Wilson (Wilson). Ocie was hospitalized and medicated; while in that state, Wilson prevailed upon Ocie to grant him power of attorney over her affairs. Wilson then used that power of attorney to deed away much of Ocie’s real property. As pertinent to this case, while acting as Ocie’s “attorney-in-fact,” Wilson signed a grant deed giving Ocie’s property at 1723 Buckingham Road (the Buckingham property or the property) to Edmound Daire (Daire) (the October 2010 grant deed). Daire applied to Ridec LLC (Ridec) for a $650,000 loan and offered up the Buckingham property as collateral. Ridec retained a title insurer. Ridec’s title insurer sued Daire and Citibank, seeking—and obtaining—court orders freezing the disbursed loan funds still in Daire’s Citibank account. Ridec joined that lawsuit via a cross-complaint against Daire, Ocy, and PSG, in which it sought to establish the validity of its deed of trust. Ridec challenged the trial court’s ruling declaring its deed of trust invalid.   The Second Appellate District reversed and remanded with directions to enter a judgment finding that Ridec’s deed of trust is valid. Ridec’s appeal from the posttrial order denying its motion to set aside the judgment is, therefore, moot. The court explained that because none of the trial court’s reasons for disregarding section 764.060 and Tsasu are valid, the court erred in refusing to apply the governing statute and binding precedent interpreting that statute. View "Ridec LLC v. Hinkle" on Justia Law

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In this special assessment appeal, the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the circuit court's dismissal of the Village of Mukwonago as a defendant due to improper service of a notice of appeal, holding that Petitioner's failure to comply with Wis. Stat. 66.0703(12)(a) required dismissal of this action.Petitioner challenged the special assessment district created by the Village in 2019 alleging jurisdiction pursuant to section 66.0703(12). The Village filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the circuit court lacked subject matter jurisdiction or competency to proceed because Greenwald did not serve a written notice of appeal on the Village clerk. The circuit court granted the motion, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Wis. Stat. 801.14(2) did not apply in this case; and (2) the plain meaning of section 66.0703(12)(a) mandates service of written notice on the Village clerk, and because Greenwald did not accomplish this requirement, dismissal was warranted. View "Greenwald Family Ltd. Partnership v. Village of Mukwonago" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs appealed the Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal of their complaint, alleging that the City of New Braunfels’s zoning regulation banning short-term rentals of residential properties in certain areas of the city is unconstitutional. The district court ordered dismissal.   The Fifth Circuit vacated and remanded. The court held that Plaintiffs are entitled to engage in discovery in an attempt to surmount the currently high bar for challenging local zoning ordinances under the Constitution. View "Marfil v. City of New Braunfels" on Justia Law

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A group of Oklahoma landowners petitioned for a declaratory judgment and injunctive relief, claiming that the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority violated the Open Meeting Act, 25 O.S.2021, §§ 301 to 314, regarding its notice to the public of the ACCESS Oklahoma Program. Both parties sought summary judgment. The district court rendered summary judgment in the landowners' favor, finding that the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority willfully violated the Open Meeting Act. The Oklahoma Supreme Court held that the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority gave sufficient notice of the agenda items that the landowners challenged. Furthermore, the Court found that the lack of notice regarding the announcement of the ACCESS Oklahoma Program at the February 2022 meeting did not violate the Open Meeting Act because the announcement was for informational purposes only. View "Hirschfeld, et al. v. Oklahoma Turnpike Authority" on Justia Law