Justia Zoning, Planning & Land Use Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Health Law
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In 2005, the Georgia Department of Community Health (Department) promulgated a rule, commonly known as the “Psychiatric Rule” (“the Rule”), that required hospitals to obtain a Certificate of Need (“CON”) “prior to the establishment of a new or the expansion of an existing acute care adult psychiatric and/or substance abuse inpatient program,” and defined “expansion” as “the addition of beds to an existing CON-authorized or grandfathered psychiatric and/or substance abuse inpatient program.” The issue this case presented for the Georgia Supreme Court's review centered on whether the Department could, through the Rule, require a licensed hospital with a psychiatric/substance-abuse program authorized by a CON, to obtain an additional CON to redistribute inpatient beds in excess of those identified in its CON to operate a psychiatric/substance-abuse program, but within its total licensed bed capacity. In UHS of Anchor, L.P. v. Department of Community Health, 830 SE2d 413 (2019), the Court of Appeals held that the Department could. The Supreme Court determined the appellate court erred in that conclusion, and reversed. "The General Assembly’s delegation of legislative authority to the Department to promulgate rules as part of its administration of the CON program does not include the authority to define additional new institutional health services requiring a CON, beyond those listed in OCGA 31-6-40 (a)." View "Premier Health Care Investments, LLC v. UHS of Anchor, LP" on Justia Law

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During the certificate of need (CON) application process, applicant ACTD, LLC (operator of the Green Mountain Surgery Center (GMSC), a for-profit multi-specialty ambulatory surgery center), indicated that it initially planned to offer surgical services in five identified specialties. After the CON was issued, applicant notified the Board that in addition to these five specialties, it planned to offer plastic surgery and ophthalmology procedures. The Board chose to review these changes and, after hearing, issued a decision clarifying that the original CON was limited in scope to the five specialties applicant had identified in its application, and that the proposed addition of plastic surgery and ophthalmology procedures was a nonmaterial change to the project. The Board concluded that applicant had demonstrated a need for greater access to plastic surgery and ophthalmology procedures currently performed in a hospital setting and approved the addition of these services. However, it rejected applicant’s proposal to offer ophthalmology procedures already available at another ambulatory surgery center nearby. The Board also extended applicant’s implementation reporting period for two additional years. Applicant argued on appeal of the Board's decision that the Board improperly restricted the scope of the CON and lacked the power to extend the reporting requirement. Finding that the Board acted within its authority, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed its decision. View "In re ACTD LLC, d/b/a The Green Mountain Surgery Center" on Justia Law

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Union of Medical Marijuana Patients, Inc. (UMMP) appealed a trial court judgment denying its petition for writ of mandate, which challenged the City of San Diego's enactment of an ordinance adopting regulations for the establishment and location of medical marijuana consumer cooperatives in the City. UMMP argued that the City did not comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) when enacting the ordinance. After review, the Court of Appeals concluded that the ordinance did not constitute a "project" within the meaning of CEQA, and accordingly the City was not required to conduct an environmental analysis prior to enacting the ordinance. View "Union of Med. Marijuana Patients v. City of San Diego" on Justia Law

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THI is a subsidiary of THI of New Hampshire, LLC, itself a subsidiary of a parent company that owns nursing home operators throughout the country. In approximately 2003, THI purchased and began operating a nursing home, Pleasant Valley Nursing Center (Pleasant Valley), in Derry. In 2012, THI had an opportunity to expand when Exeter Healthcare, Inc. closed its nursing home in Exeter and offered to sell its 109 licensed nursing beds. THI and Exeter Healthcare entered into a purchase and sale agreement for the beds in 2013, and THI made deposit payments to Exeter Healthcare in accordance with the agreement. The following month, THI requested that the Board grant approval for the transfer of the beds from Exeter Healthcare to THI. Because the Pleasant Valley building would not accommodate all of the beds to be transferred, THI also requested permission to apply for a Certificate of Need (CON) to construct a new building to house the beds in a different location. THI selected a site in Londonderry for the new building, which it planned to operate under the name Traditions at Londonderry. In its application, THI explained that the transfer would occur in the same nursing home region in Rockingham County, such that the number of beds in the region would not increase. THI also informed the Board that its contract conditioned its obligation to buy the beds from Exeter Healthcare upon the Board’s approval of the CON for Traditions at Londonderry. In this appeal of the Health Services Planning and Review Board's (Board) order, THI argued that the Board incorrectly interpreted RSA 151-C:4, III(a) as preventing the Board from granting a certificate of need (CON) to THI for the construction of the Pleasant Valley nursing home. Although the Board found that THI’s proposed facility would satisfy regulatory requirements for services offered, quality of care, and financial feasibility, among other criteria, the Board nevertheless denied THI’s application because the Pleasant Valley facility was not an “existing facility.” Finding no error, the Supreme Court affirmed the Board's decision. View "Appeal of THI of New Hampshire at Derry, LLC " on Justia Law

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The City of Riverside declared, by zoning ordinances, that medical marijuana dispensaries were prohibited within the City. Invoking these provisions, the City brought a nuisance action against a facility operated by Defendants. The trial court issued a preliminary injunction against the distribution of marijuana from the facility. The court of appeal affirmed. Defendants appealed, arguing that the Compassionate Use Act (CUA) and the Medical Marijuana Program (MMP) preempted the City's total ban on facilities that cultivated and distributed medical marijuana in compliance with the CUA and MMP. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that California's medical marijuana statutes do not expressly or impliedly preempt the authority of California cities and counties, under their traditional land use and police powers, to allow, restrict, limit, or entirely exclude facilities that distribute medical marijuana, and to enforce such policies by nuisance actions. View "City of Riverside v. Inland Empire Patients Health & Wellness Ctr., Inc." on Justia Law

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At issue in this appeal was the question of an agent's authority to bind his or her principal to an arbitration agreement presented with other documents upon the principal's admission to a long-term care facility. Agent in this case was the daughter and executrix of the deceased Principal. Agent brought a claim for negligence against the long-term care facility where Principal spent the last years of her life. Invoking an arbitration agreement executed in conjunction with Principal's admission to the nursing home, Defendants moved the trial court to dismiss the complaint. The trial court denied the motion, holding that Agent, who executed the admissions agreement on behalf of Principal, had no authority to agree to arbitration. The court of appeals reversed, holding that the agreement was enforceable. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the optional arbitration agreement Agent purported to execute on Principal's behalf was beyond the scope of Agent's authority and was therefore unenforceable. View "Ping v. Beverly Enters., Inc." on Justia Law

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Appellees Dana Headapohl and Lawrence Martin placed two buildings in the floodplain without a permit and installed an un-permitted incinerating toilet. The health department issued a notice of violation (NOV) to Appellees, informing them that the two structures constituted "increased use" of the septic system in violation of the health code and requiring Appellees to remove the buildings and incinerating toilet. The health board affirmed the Department's NOV following a hearing. The district court concluded that Appellees had not violated the health code by adding the two buildings, that the contested provisions of the health code suffered unconstitutional vagueness as applied to Appellees, and that the incinerating toilet did not qualify as a wastewater treatment and disposal system under the health code. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the district court relied on an incomplete interpretation of "increased use" to determine whether the addition of the two buildings constituted increased use of the septic system that violated the health code, and (2) Appellees' incinerating toilet required a permit under the health code as a wastewater treatment and disposal system. Remanded to determine whether Appellees' changes of use could result in increased effluent flow to the septic system.