Justia Zoning, Planning & Land Use Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Government Contracts
Selevan, et al. v. New York Thruway Authority, et al.
Plaintiffs are motorists who use the Grand Island Bridge but, because they are not residents of Grand Island, did not qualify for the lowest toll rate. Plaintiffs sought a judgment declaring that the toll discount policies violated the dormant Commerce Clause as well as the constitutional right to travel that courts have located in the Privileges and Immunities and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, both in violation of 42 U.S.C. 1983. On appeal, plaintiffs challenged the November 28, 2011 Memorandum Decision and Order of the district court, among other things, that granted judgment in favor of defendants. The court held that plaintiffs have standing under Article III, the toll policy at issue was a minor restriction on travel and did not involve "invidious distinctions" that would require strict scrutiny analysis pursuant to the Fourteenth Amendment; the district court correctly used, in the alternative, the three-part test set forth in Northwest Airlines, Inc. v. County of Kent, to evaluate both plaintiffs' right-to-travel and dormant Commerce Clause claims; and the Grand Island Bridge toll scheme was based on "some fair approximation of use" of the bridges; was not "excessive in relation to the benefits" it conferred; and did not "discriminate against interstate commerce." Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Selevan, et al. v. New York Thruway Authority, et al." on Justia Law
McGuire v. United States
McGuire leased farmland in Arizona from the Colorado River Indian Tribes with approval of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. After the BIA removed a bridge that he used to access portions of the leased property, McGuire filed a Fifth Amendment claim. McGuire does not claim that removal of the bridge was itself a taking, but rather that the BIA’s alleged refusal to authorize replacement of the bridge was a taking of his property rights. The Court of Federal Claims rejected the claim. The Federal Circuit affirmed, holding that the regulatory takings claim never ripened because McGuire failed to pursue administrative remedies. Even if McGuire’s claim had ripened, he had no cognizable property interest in the bridge, which he neither possessed nor controlled because it was in a BIA right-of-way. No federal regulation gave him a property interest and he was not entitled to an easement by necessity. View "McGuire v. United States" on Justia Law
Indian Harbor Ins. v. United States
Indian Harbor sought reimbursement under the National Defense Authorization Act of 1993, 106 Stat. 2315, 2371; 107 Stat. 1547, 1745 for environmental cleanup costs associated with the development of the former Marine Corps Air Station Tustin military base in southern California. The Court of Federal Claims determined that Indian Harbor failed to identify a “claim for personal injury or property” that triggered the government’s duty to indemnify and dismissed. The Federal Circuit reversed, relying on the purposes of the Act, to encourage cleanup and redevelopment of former military installations. View "Indian Harbor Ins. v. United States" on Justia Law
Hage v. United States
In 1978, Hages acquired a ranch in Nevada occupying approximately 7,000 acres of private land and approximately 752,000 acres of federal lands under grazing permits. Their predecessors had acquired water rights now located on federal lands, 43 U.S.C. 661. Hages had disputes with the government concerning release of non-indigenous elk onto federal land for which Hages had grazing permits, unauthorized grazing by Hages’ cattle, and fence and ditch maintenance. After a series of incidents, in 1991, Hages filed suit alleging takings under 43 U.S.C. 1752(g), and breach of contract. After almost 20 years, the Claims Court awarded compensation for regulatory taking of water rights; physical taking of water rights; and range improvements. The court awarded pre-judgment interest for the takings, but not for the range improvements. The Federal Circuit vacated in part. The regulatory takings claim and 43 U.S.C. 1752 claim are not ripe. To the extent the claim for physical taking relies on fences constructed 1981-1982, it is untimely. To the extent the physical takings claim relies on fences constructed 1988-1990, there is no evidence that water was taken that Hages could have put to beneficial use. Hages are not entitled to pre-judgment interest for range improvements because Hages failed to identify a cognizable property interest. View "Hage v. United States" on Justia Law
Murray v. Town of Dewey Beach
Plaintiffs challenged the Town's actions in regards to a Mutual Agreement and Release (MAR) for the redevelopment of Ruddertowne, primarily upon the bases that they constituted impermissible contract zoning and that the MAR, the Building Permit, and the Record Plat Plan (together, the Challenged Documents) violated numerous aspects of the Town's zoning, building, and land use regulations. Defendants moved to dismiss, arguing that the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction and that plaintiffs lacked standing to bring suit. The court concluded that the Complaint was filed after the period provided for in the applicable statute of repose, 10 Del. C. 8126. As for the Building Inspector's approval and issuance of the Building Permit, the court concluded that it did not have subject matter jurisdiction because an adequate remedy at law was available to plaintiffs. Therefore, the court granted defendants' motions to dismiss. The Town's motion to strike, which was rendered moot, was denied. View "Murray v. Town of Dewey Beach" on Justia Law
Putnam Family P’ship, et al. v. City of Yucaipa
Four mobile home park owners appealed the dismissal of their suit under the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 (FHAA), 42 U.S.C. 3604, 3617, challenging a city zoning ordinance prohibiting any mobilehome park currently operating as senior housing from converting to all-age housing. The court held that because the FHAA was silent on whether such senior housing zones were permissible and because federal regulations allow for them, the judgment of the district court was affirmed. View "Putnam Family P'ship, et al. v. City of Yucaipa" on Justia Law
Shenandoah Valley Network v. Capka, et al.
Appellants challenged the Agencies' execution of a tiered review process related to planning improvements to Virginia's Interstate 81 corridor. The district court rejected appellants' challenge which alleged various constitutional and statutory violations. On appeal, appellants claimed that the Agencies were attempting to foreclose consideration of environmentally friendly alternatives for specific sections of I-81 by choosing a corridor-wide improvement concept in the first stage of the review process. The court held, however, that appellants misapprehended the Agencies' position where the Agencies planned to comply with the Stipulation in this case and the National Environment Policy Act (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq., by considering site-specific alternatives to the corridor-wide concept in subsequent stages. Because there was no actual dispute here, and because appellants could not show any injury or imminent threat of injury, this suit was not justiciable. Accordingly, the court dismissed the appeal. View "Shenandoah Valley Network v. Capka, et al." on Justia Law
City of Tacoma v. City of Bonney Lake
The city of Tacoma has franchise agreements with Pierce County and the cities of Fircrest, University Place, and Federal Way (Municipalities) to provide them with water services. The issue before the Supreme Court was whether those franchise agreements required Tacoma to both maintain fire hydrants and bear the maintenance costs of those hydrants. Tacoma raised questions about the impact of the agreements' indemnification clauses had on this dispute. Upon review, the Supreme Court held that the franchise agreements contractually required Tacoma to provide hydrants to the Municipalities, and that the indemnification provisions did not preclude this case. View "City of Tacoma v. City of Bonney Lake" on Justia Law
City of Hugo v. Nichols
The City of Hugo, Oklahoma, and the Hugo Municipal Authority, a public water trust, (collectively "Hugo") contracted with the City of Irving, Texas, ("Irving") for the sale of water Hugo has been allocated or sought to be allocated under permits issued by the Oklahoma Water Resources Board ("Board"). Hugo and Irving brought suit against the nine members of the Board for a declaration that certain Oklahoma laws governing the Board’s water allocation decisions were unconstitutional under the dormant Commerce Clause and an injunction prohibiting their enforcement. The district court granted summary judgment for the Board, and Hugo and Irving appealed. Upon review, the Tenth Circuit concluded that Hugo, as a political subdivision of Oklahoma, lacked standing to sue the Board under the dormant Commerce Clause. Irving, whose injury was solely premised on a contract it entered into with Hugo, likewise could not demonstrate standing because any injury to Irving cannot be redressed. Concluding no plaintiff had the necessary standing, the Court vacated the district court’s order and remanded the case back the district court to dismiss for lack of federal jurisdiction.
Tarrant Regional Water Dist. v. Herrmann
Tarrant Regional Water District ("Tarrant"), a Texas state agency, applied to the Oklahoma Water Resources Board ("the OWRB") for permits to appropriate water at three locations in Oklahoma for use in Texas. Just before filing its applications, Tarrant sued the nine members of the Oklahoma Water Resources Board in the district court for the Western District of Oklahoma and sought a declaratory judgment to invalidate certain Oklahoma statutes that govern the appropriation and use of water and an injunction preventing OWRB from enforcing them. Tarrant alleged that the Oklahoma statutes restricted interstate commerce in water and thereby violated the dormant Commerce Clause as discriminatory or unduly burdensome. Tarrant further alleged that Congress did not authorize Oklahoma through the Red River Compact ("Compact") to enact such laws. OWRB responded that Congress did authorize Oklahoma to adopt these statutes by consenting to the Compact. Tarrant also claimed that the Compact preempted the Oklahoma statutes insofar as the Compact applied to Tarrant’s application to appropriate water located in the Red River Basin. The district court granted summary judgment for OWRB on both the dormant Commerce Clause and Supremacy Clause claims. After that decision, Tarrant took steps to export to Texas Oklahoma water that was not subject to the Compact. Tarrant negotiated a contract with property owners in Stephens County, Oklahoma to export groundwater to Texas and also entered a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Apache Tribe concerning the Tribe’s potential water rights. In court Tarrant then reasserted its dormant Commerce Clause challenge based on these transactions. The district court dismissed the Stephens County matter for lack of standing and the Apache Tribe matter as not ripe. Upon review, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the grants of summary judgment on the dormant Commerce Clause and preemption issues, and the dismissals based on standing and ripeness: [w]e hold that the Red River Compact insulates Oklahoma water statutes from dormant Commerce Clause challenge insofar as they apply to surface water subject to the Compact."