Justia Zoning, Planning & Land Use Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Government & Administrative Law
Noblesville Indiana Board of Zoning Appeals v. FMG Indianapolis, LLC
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court in favor of Reagan Outdoor Advertising in this appeal from the determination that Reagan's billboard had lost its legal nonconforming status, holding that the trial court correctly entered judgment for Reagan.An ordinance of the city of Noblesville bans pole signs, which are signs affixed to poles or other uprights installed in the ground. Reagan, whose billboards the city classifies as pole signs, was allowed signs to remain that pre-dated the ordinance if they were kept in good repair and not relocated. When Reagan repaired damage to one of the billboard's support posts the city issued a stop-work order before Reagan could reattach the sign's display, concluding that Reagan had relocated the sign, which therefore lost its legal nonconforming status. The zoning board of appeals affirmed, but the trial court reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the ordinance's use of the word "relocate" was ambiguous and, consistent with this Court's interpretative canons, must be resolved in Reagan's favor. View "Noblesville Indiana Board of Zoning Appeals v. FMG Indianapolis, LLC" on Justia Law
Pacific Gas and Electric Co. v. Super. Ct.
Petitioner Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) sought extraordinary writ relief for the second time arising out of the parties’ ongoing efforts to clarify the standard of proof to be applied at trial on South San Joaquin Irrigation District’s (the District) right to take part of PG&E’s electric distribution system under the Eminent Domain Law. PG&E emphasized that it did not challenge the validity of the resolution of necessity adopted by the District. PG&E did challenge the District’s right to take its property on grounds that conflicted with various findings the District made in its resolution. Because these challenges were authorized by statute, PG&E could succeed at trial by essentially disproving one of these findings by a preponderance of the evidence. Further, the Court of Appeal agreed with PG&E that the superior court’s September 6, 2017 and November 28, 2022 orders erred in concluding that PG&E also needed to demonstrate the District abused its discretion in adopting its resolution of necessity. Therefore, the Court of Appeal issued a peremptory writ of mandate compelling the superior court to vacate its September 6, 2017 and November 28, 2022 orders, and enter a new order. View "Pacific Gas and Electric Co. v. Super. Ct." on Justia Law
Whitefish 57 Commercial, LLC v. City of Whitefish
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of the City of Whitefish and affirming the Whitefish City Council's decisions to deny a conditional use permit (CUP) and grant Resolution 21-43, which denied the permit, holding that there was no error in the proceedings below.Whitefish 57 Commercial, LLC and Rimrock Companies, LLC (collectively, Appellants) applied for a CUP to develop a hotel on a lot of their subdivision. After a public hearing on the development project the Council adopted Resolution 21-43 that denied the permit. Appellants appealed, claiming that the Council abused its discretion in denying their CUP. The district court granted summary judgment against Appellants. View "Whitefish 57 Commercial, LLC v. City of Whitefish" on Justia Law
Wise Business Forms, Inc. v. Forsyth County, et al.
Wise Business Forms, Inc. (“Wise”) was the nation’s fourth largest printer of business forms, and was headquartered in Forsyth County, Georgia. A 36-inch metal pipe (“Subject Pipe”) ran underneath Wise’s property and had been in place since 1985. Approximately twenty-five feet of the drainage pipe extended into a two-acre tract of land west of Wise’s property (“Corner Tract”). The Corner Tract was undeveloped and forms a natural detention basin into which a large vertical concrete drainage structure with a large stormwater outlet pipe (“Feeder Structure”) was constructed. Wise asserted in its complaint that water from the Feeder Structure on the Corner Tract was designed to flow through the Subject Pipe underneath Wise’s property. The McFarland Parkway Widening Project extended McFarland Road from two lanes to four lanes and was completed in 2000. Wise alleged in its complaint that this project resulted in a substantial increase of the surface and stormwater runoff flowing underneath its property. In 2020, Wise filed a complaint against Forsyth County and the Georgia Department of Transportation (the “DOT”) raising claims for per se taking of Wise’s property, inverse condemnation by permanent nuisance, attorney fees. Wise amended its complaint to add a claim for inverse condemnation by abatable nuisance. The Georgia Supreme Court granted certiorari in this case to clarify the standards for determining when a claim for inverse condemnation by permanent nuisance accrues for purposes of applying the four-year statute of limitation set forth in OCGA § 9-3-30 (a). The Court concluded that, although the Court of Appeals articulated one of the correct standards to apply in determining when the applicable statute of limitation begins to run on a permanent nuisance claim, the Court of Appeals failed to construe the allegations of the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff as the non-moving party; erred in concluding there was only one harm in this case that was “immediately observable” to the plaintiff when the nuisance at issue was completed; and erred in concluding that the statute of limitation had run on the plaintiff’s claim as a matter of law. View "Wise Business Forms, Inc. v. Forsyth County, et al." on Justia Law
Deer Creek Water Corporation, et al. v. City of Oklahoma City, et al.
Plaintiff Deer Creek Water Corporation filed suit against Oklahoma City and Oklahoma City Water Utilities Trust (together, the City) seeking a declaratory judgment that the City could not provide water service to a proposed development on land owned by Thomas and Gina Boling (together, the developers), who later intervened in the action. In support, Deer Creek invoked 7 U.S.C. § 1926(b), a statute that generally prohibited municipalities from encroaching on areas served by federally indebted rural water associations, so long as the rural water association made water service available to the area. The district court granted the developers’ motion for summary judgment after concluding that Deer Creek had not made such service available, and Deer Creek appealed. Although the Tenth Circuit rejected Deer Creek’s arguments related to subject-matter jurisdiction, the Court agreed that the district court erred in finding it dispositive that Deer Creek’s terms of service required the developers to construct the improvements necessary to expand Deer Creek’s existing infrastructure to serve the proposed development, reasoning that because Deer Creek itself would not be doing the construction, it had not made service available. The Court found nothing in the statute or in caselaw to support stripping a federally indebted rural water association of § 1926(b) protection solely because it placed a burden of property development on the landowner seeking to develop property. The district court therefore erred in placing determinative weight on Deer Creek’s requirement that the developers construct the needed improvements. The judgment was reversed and the case remanded for further proceedings on whether Deer Creek made service available. View "Deer Creek Water Corporation, et al. v. City of Oklahoma City, et al." on Justia Law
Bracken v. City of Ketchum
This appeal was about whether an aggrieved applicant could bring a direct action against a city, its administrators, and its mayor for alleged misconduct pertaining to the granting of a conditional use permit without first exhausting administrative remedies and seeking judicial review. The answer is almost always “no,” but based on the unique facts in this case the Idaho Supreme Court held that the applicant was excused from exhausting administrative remedies. View "Bracken v. City of Ketchum" on Justia Law
Knezovich, et al. v. United States
Victims of the 2018 Roosevelt Fire in Wyoming sued the United States Forest Service, alleging it negligently delayed its suppression response. The Forest Service moved to dismiss the complaint on the grounds that it was not liable for the way it handled the response to the fire. Under the Federal Tort Claims Act, a government actor could not be sued for conducting a so-called “discretionary function,” where the official must employ an element of judgment or choice in responding to a situation. The government contended that responding to a wildfire required judgment or choice, and its decisions in fighting the fire at issue here met the discretionary function exception to the Act. The district court agreed and dismissed the suit. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals also concluded the Forest Service was entitled to the discretionary function exception to suit, and the district court lacked jurisdiction to hear the complaint. View "Knezovich, et al. v. United States" on Justia Law
NW Neighborhood Assoc v. City of Boise
Appellant North West Neighborhood Association challenged a district court’s decision upholding Boise City Council’s approval of three interrelated land use applications. The Idaho Supreme Court agreed with Appellant that Boise City Council failed to provide a reasoned statement explaining its approval of the applications as required by section 67-6535(2) of the Local Land Use Planning Act. The Court remanded this matter to the district court with instructions to set aside Boise City Council’s actions and remand to the Council for the adoption of a reasoned statement. View "NW Neighborhood Assoc v. City of Boise" on Justia Law
Prince George’s County v. Concerned Citizens
In this zoning dispute involving the interplay between the public's interest in the future of a private airport in Prince George's County and the financial interests of its owner, the Supreme Court held that the amended zoning ordinance allowing the airport to develop higher-density housing did not violate Maryland's uniformity requirement, Md. Code Ann., Land Use 22-201(b)(2)(i).When the airport's owners began experiencing financial difficulties they sought to redevelop the site, which had been limited by the zoning ordnance to low-density, single-family detached housing, for non-airport use. The County Council amended the zoning ordinance to allow for higher-density housing to incentivize the airport's redevelopment. Plaintiffs brought suit. The circuit court concluded that the ordinance did not violate uniformity, but the appellate court reversed, finding that the ordinance violated uniformity because it was tailored so narrowly as to afford favorable development opportunities to only the airport property. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the ordinance was adopted to further a valid public purpose and did not discriminate against similarly situated properties, thus surviving the uniformity challenge. View "Prince George's County v. Concerned Citizens" on Justia Law
Weiss, et al. v. Town of Sunapee
Plaintiffs Bradley Weiss and Cathleen Shea appealed a superior court order granting defendant Town of Sunapee's (Town) motion to dismiss. The trial court determined that, because plaintiffs failed to request a second rehearing from the Town’s Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA), the court did not have subject matter jurisdiction over their appeal. The New Hampshire Supreme Court reversed and remanded: pursuant to RSA 677:3, plaintiffs perfected their appeal to the superior court from the ZBA’s April 1 denial by timely moving for rehearing. View "Weiss, et al. v. Town of Sunapee" on Justia Law