Justia Zoning, Planning & Land Use Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Construction Law
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Defendant Department of General Services and real party Joint Committee on Rules of the California State Senate and Assembly (collectively DGS) prepared an environmental impact report (EIR) to determine the environmental effects of a project they proposed which would significantly affect the California State Capitol Building in Sacramento (Historic Capitol). DGS would demolish the State Capitol Building Annex attached to the Historic Capitol and replace it with a larger new annex building, construct an underground visitor center attached to the Historic Capitol’s west side, and construct an underground parking garage east of the new Annex. Plaintiffs Save Our Capitol! and Save the Capitol, Save the Trees filed petitions for writ of mandate contending the EIR did not comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The trial court denied the petitions. Plaintiffs appealed the judgment, arguing: (1) the EIR lacked a stable project description; (2) the EIR did not adequately analyze and mitigate the project’s impacts on cultural resources, biological resources, aesthetics, traffic, and utilities and service systems; (3) the EIR’s analysis of alternatives to the project was legally deficient; and (4) DGS violated CEQA by not recirculating the EIR a second time before certifying it. The Court of Appeal reversed in part, finding the EIR’s project description, analyses of historical resources and aesthetics, and analysis of alternatives did not comply with CEQA. Judgment was affirmed in all other respects. View "Save Our Capitol! v. Dept. of General Services" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court regarding several orders unfavorable to Plaintiff in this dispute over the development of a subdivision on property containing a floodplain within Lewis and Clark County, holding that there was no error or abuse of discretion.In its challenged orders, the district court dismissed Plaintiff's negligence and negligent misrepresentation claims, denied Plaintiff's motion for a declaratory judgment that Mont. Code Ann. 76-5-109(4) is unconstitutional, dismissed Plaintiff's claims for inverse condemnation and nuisance, and dismissed Plaintiff's suit against the Montana Department of Transportation. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court (1) did not err in dismissing Plaintiff's inverse condemnation claim; (2) did not err in dismissing Plaintiff's unjust enrichment claim; (3) did not err in finding Mont. Code Ann. 76-5-109(4) was constitutional; and (4) did not err in dismissing Plaintiff's remaining nuisance claims. View "Hamlin Construction & Development Co. v. Mont. Dep't of Transportation" on Justia Law

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The Sixth Circuit affirmed the order of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of the City of Powell, Ohio and dismissing Golf Village North LLC's claims brought under 28 U.S.C. 1983 for violating its procedural and substantive due process rights, holding that there was no error.Golf Village, a developer, sought to build a "residential hotel" on its property in Powell, Ohio but never filed the required zoning application. Instead, Golf Village requested that the City confirm the residential hotel was a permitted use of the property. The City directed Golf Village to file an appropriate application for "zoning Certificate approval" to receive an answer. Rather than reply, Golf Village sued the City. The district court granted summary judgment for the City. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, holding that Golf Village's procedural due process and substantive due process rights were not violated in this case. View "Golf Village North, LLC v. City of Powell, Ohio" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of the superior court affirming the decision of the Town of Boothbay Harbor's Board of Appeals (BOA) denying 29 McKown, LLC's administrative appeal from a code enforcement officer's (CEO) decision to life a stop work order he had issued to Harbor Crossing during the construction of the building, holding that 29 McKown was deprived of administrative due process.In this case concerning a real estate office building constructed by Harbor Crossing in Boothbay Harbor, 29 McKown sought review of the denial of its McKown's appeal. The superior court affirmed the BOA's decision. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the order below, holding (1) 29 McKown was deprived of administrative due process; and (2) the CEO did not issue a judicially-reviewable decision in lifting the stop work order. View "29 McKown LLC v. Town of Boothbay Harbor" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court determining that the Historic Alexandria Foundation lacked standing to pursue the claims asserted in this case, holding that there was no error in the circuit court's judgment.Vowell, LLC filed applications to obtain certain permits for the renovation of property located in the Old and Historic District of the City of Alexandria. The Old and Historic Alexandria District Board of Architectural Review (the BAR) approved Vowell's applications, and the City Council affirmed the BAR's decision. The Foundation appealed the City's Council decision. The circuit court dismissed the matter with prejudice, concluding that the petition did not establish that the Foundation was an aggrieved party with standing to pursue the appeal. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Foundation lacked standing because the allegations of the petition failed to establish that the Foundation suffered particularized harm that differed from that suffered by the public in general. View "Historic Alexandria Foundation v. City of Alexandria" on Justia Law

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A Compact between Pennsylvania and New Jersey created the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission, which is authorized to “acquire, own, use, lease, operate, and dispose of real property and interest in real property, and to make improvements,” and to "exercise all other powers . . . reasonably necessary or incidental to the effectuation of its authorized purposes . . . except the power to levy taxes or assessments.” The Commission undertook to replace the Scudder Falls Bridge, purchased land near the bridge in Pennsylvania, and broke ground on a building to house the Commission’s staff in a single location. Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry inspectors observed the construction; the Commission never applied for a building permit as required under the Department’s regulations. The Commission asserted that it was exempt from Pennsylvania’s regulatory authority. The Department threatened the Commission’s elevator subcontractor with regulatory sanctions for its involvement in the project. The Commission sought declaratory and injunctive relief.After rejecting an Eleventh Amendment argument, the Third Circuit upheld an injunction prohibiting the Department from seeking to inspect or approve the elevators and from further impeding, interfering, or delaying the contractors. Pennsylvania unambiguously ceded some of its sovereign authority through the Compact. The fact that both states expressly reserved their taxing power—but not other powers—indicates that they did not intend to retain the authority to enforce building safety regulations. View "Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission v. Secretary Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry" on Justia Law

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In Friends of Columbia Gorge v. Energy Fac. Siting Coun., 365 Or 371, 446 P3d 53 (2019), the Oregon Supreme Court held that the Energy Facility Siting Council had failed to substantially comply with a procedural requirement when it amended rules governing how it processes requests for amendment (RFAs) to site certificates that the council issued. The Court therefore held that the rules were invalid. In response to that decision, the council adopted temporary rules governing the RFA process. Petitioners contended that those temporary rules were also invalid. According to petitioners, the rules were invalid because the council failed to prepare a statement of its findings justifying the use of temporary rules. Petitioners also maintained that the council’s rules exceed the 180-day limit on temporary rules or otherwise improperly operated retroactively. After review, the Supreme Court disagreed with petitioners’ arguments and concluded the temporary rules were valid. View "Friends of Columbia Gorge v. Energy Fac. Siting Coun." on Justia Law

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In 2004, Miller sought to build a four-unit condominium project on her Monona lot. The process stalled while Miller bought another lot, amended the plan, and abated an unexpected asbestos problem. She had unsuccessful negotiations with her neighbor, a former mayor, who trespassed on her property at the direction of city officials and took photographs for use at a planning commission meeting to oppose her project. Citations were issued for creating a public nuisance and working without a proper permit; the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources issued a “stop work” order because of asbestos; Miller was required to erect a fence; and she was told that weeds were too high and was ordered to remove various structures. A court rejected three out of four citations issued against her, stating that, although “some of the efforts to enforce compliance were unreasonable,” Miller had not pointed to any similarly situated person who had been treated differently. Monona refused to adjust the taxes on Miller’s property to reflect the demolitions. Officials continued to trespass by parking cars on her property. In 2010, Miller filed suit, asserting equal protection violations. The district court dismissed, finding that Miller had not identified a suitable comparator and that there was no evidence that Miller had been treated unfairly because of her sex. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, noting conceivable rational reasons for various actions and requirements. View "Miller v. City of Monona" on Justia Law

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In 2004, Berkeley issued a use permit for construction of a building with 51 residential rental units and ground floor commercial space. Permit condition 10 provides: “Before submission for building permit, the applicant shall submit floor plans and schedules … showing the location of each inclusionary unit and the sales or rental prices…. and that the unit rent or sales price complies with Chapter 23C.12” (Inclusionary Housing Ordinance). The Ordinance was designed to comply with Government Code section 65580, requiring a general plan to contain a housing element stating how the local agency will accommodate its share of regional need for affordable housing. The ordinance requires that 20 percent of all newly constructed residential units be reserved for households with below-median incomes and rented at below-market prices. The development took more than seven years. The city sought a declaration that the condition was valid, conceding that the ordinance has been preempted by the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act (Civ. Code, 1954.50), but arguing that it may enforce the condition, the validity of which was not previously challenged. The court of appeal affirmed judgment in favor of the city. View "City of Berkeley v. 1080 Delaware, LLC" on Justia Law

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A certified question of law from the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho was presented to the Idaho Supreme Court. Karen White and her development company, Elkhorn, LLC, sought to recover $166,496 paid to Valley County for "capital investments for roads in the vicinity of [their] White Cloud development." Phase I of White Cloud was completed and it was undisputed by the parties that the tax monies paid for Phase I were used by the County to complete capital investments for roads in the vicinity of the White Cloud development. The County conceded that it did not adopt an impact fee ordinance or administrative procedures for the impact fee process as required by the Idaho Development Impact Fees Act (IDIFA). The County also conceded it did not enact an IDIFA-compliant ordinance, because, at the time, the County believed in good faith that none was required. Plaintiff filed suit against the County claiming that the road development fee imposed by the County as a condition for approval of the White Cloud project violated Idaho state law and deprived Plaintiff of due process under both the federal and Idaho constitutions. In her Second Amended Complaint, Plaintiff raised two claims for relief. The first claim for relief alleged that “Valley County’s practice of requiring developers to enter into a Road Development Agreement ("RDA," or any similar written agreement) solely for the purpose of forcing developers to pay money for its proportionate share of road improvement costs attributable to traffic generated by their development is a disguised impact fee, is illegal and therefore should be enjoined." The first claim for relief also alleged that, because the County failed to enact an impact fee ordinance under IDIFA, the imposition of the road development fees constituted an unauthorized tax. Plaintiff’s second claim for relief alleged that the County’s imposition of the road development fee constituted a taking under the federal and Idaho constitutions. The County argued Plaintiff voluntarily agreed to pay the RDA monies. Plaintiff denies that the payment was voluntary since it was required to obtain the final plat approval. The issue the federal district court presented to the Idaho Supreme Court centered on when the limitations period commences for statutory remedies made available under Idaho law to obtain a refund of an illegal county tax. The Court answered that the limitations period for statutory remedies made available under Idaho law to obtain a refund of an illegal county tax commences upon payment of the tax. View "White v. Valley County" on Justia Law