The Topeka City Council granted the Episcopal church (the Church) a building permit for a parking lot on Bethany Place, a registered state historic site owned by the Church. Friends of Bethany Place, a nonprofit organization, opposed the project and appealed the decision to issue the permit. The district court reversed and ordered the parking lot permit set aside, holding that insufficient evidence existed to support the finding that no feasible and prudent alternatives to the project existed and that all possible planning to minimize harm had been undertaken, and that the Council's decision did not satisfy the "hard look" test required by Reiter v. City of Beloit. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Council did not take a "hard look" at all relevant factors that must be reviewed before authorizing a project that encroaches upon, damages, or destroys historic property, as the Council failed to adequately identify what feasible and prudent alternatives existed and what planning could be done to minimize harm to Bethany Place. Remanded. View "Friends of Bethany Place, Inc. v. City of Topeka" on Justia Law
James Woods appealed the district court's dismissal of his appeal of the appraisers' award in an eminent domain action initiated by the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas. The district court found that Woods' notice of appeal, filed forty-eight days after the filing of the appraisers' report, was untimely. Woods contended that Unified Government failed to comply with the notice requirements applicable to eminent domain proceedings and, therefore, the district court should have extended the thirty-day statutory deadline for appealing the appraisers' award. The Supreme Court dismissed Woods' appeal, holding that the district court did not have the authority to extend or modify the jurisdictional requirement that a party's notice of appeal of an appraisers' award must be filed within thirty days of the filing of the appraisers' report. View "Woods v. Unified Gov't of WYCO/KCK" on Justia Law
In this eminent domain proceeding, Landowner, Manhattan Ice and Cold Storage, initiated district court review of the $3.2 million appraisers' award for the taking of three tracts of land by the condemning authority, the City of Manhattan. The jury returned a verdict of $3.5 million. Landowner appealed, arguing that the trial judge's evidentiary rulings and refusal to instruct on special use prevented it from presenting its theory of the case. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Landowner's challenges to the trial judge's evidentiary rulings lacked merit and/or resulted in no prejudice; and (2) the jury instructions given in this case were legally sound. View "Manhattan Ice & Cold Storage v. City of Manhattan" on Justia Law
Posted in: Constitutional Law, Kansas Supreme Court, Real Estate & Property Law, Zoning, Planning & Land Use
In this eminent domain action, the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas (Unified Government) condemned a shopping center owned by Kansas City Mall Associates (KC Mall). The jury awarded compensation of approximately $7 million to KC Mall. KC Mall appealed, arguing that the district court erred by admitting evidence from a 2005 tax appeal as well as certain testimony and reports from appraisal experts for Unified Government. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the 2005 tax appeal evidence was admissible for purposes of impeachment as well as substantive evidence; and (2) the district court did not err by admitting the testimony and reports of Unified Government's expert appraisers because zoning at the time of a taking is only one of the factors to be considered in determining highest and best use of a property subject to eminent domain. View "Kan. City Mall Assocs. v. Unified Gov't of Wyandotte County/KCKS " on Justia Law
Oscar Armendariz, the owner of a tract of land subject to eminent domain proceedings, appealed the district court's order determining the final distribution of an appraisers' award. Armedariz contended the district court erred in distributing a portion of the award based on quantum meruit to Vernon Jarboe, the attorney for Richard and Angela Britt, who were formerly interested parties to the eminent domain proceeding. The Supreme Court reversed the district court's award, holding that the district court lacked statutory authority to award fees to Jarboe. Remanded with directions to enter an order distributing the entire amount of the award in favor of Armendariz. View "Miller v. FW Commercial Props. " on Justia Law
Lester Dean was the sole and managing member of Glacier Development Company, LLC, which owned property that the Kansas DOT (KDOT) took for highway purposes. KDOT's eminent domain petition did not individually name Dean as a defendant or allege that he personally owned any of the property, but certain attorneys filed an entry of appearance declaring the defendants to be Glacier and Dean. After court-appointed appraisers awarded Glacier $2.19 million for the property, a jury verdict concluded that the property's value was $800,000. The district court ordered that judgment was awarded "against the Defendants." Dean filed a motion requesting his name be removed from the judgment because he did not own the subject property in his personal capacity. The district court denied the motion. At issue on appeal was whether the district court had the authority to adjudge Dean personally liable to KDOT for the amount of the appraisers' award paid out to Glacier that exceeded the compensation finally awarded on appeal. The Supreme Court found that it did not and reversed, holding that the district court did not have jurisdiction to make the findings necessary to hold Dean personally liable for an LLC debt. View "Miller v. Glacier Dev. Co." on Justia Law
Posted in: Business Law, Kansas Supreme Court, Real Estate & Property Law, Zoning, Planning & Land Use
The Board of County Commissioners of Wabaunsee County amended its zoning regulations to permit small wind energy conversion systems. The regulations, however, prohibited the placement of commercial wind energy conversion systems in the county. Plaintiffs and Intervenors, landowners and owners of wind rights in the county, sued the Board, seeking a judicial declaration that the Board's action be null and void. The district court granted the Board's various dispositive motions. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding, inter alia, that (1) the district court did not err by disposing of a Takings Clause claim as a matter of law, and because there was no taking, the court did not err in also disposing of Intervenors' related takings-based claim under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and their claim for inverse condemnation; (2) the district court did not err in dismissing a Commerce Clause claim as a matter of law, but a claim alleging the Board's decision placed incidental burdens on interstate commerce that outweighed the benefits was remanded for analysis under Pike v. Bruce Church; and (3) because Intervenors also made a burden-based claim under the Commerce Clause in their 42 U.S.C. 1983 contention, that specific claim was also remanded.
Posted in: Constitutional Law, Energy, Oil & Gas Law, Kansas Supreme Court, Zoning, Planning & Land Use
This appeal stemmed from an order granting summary judgment to the Board of County Commissioners regarding its challenge to the annexation of certain land by Park City. The district court then granted Park City an extension of time to file a postjudgment motion. Twenty days after the district court's order, Park City filed a motion for postjudgment relief under Kan. Stat. Ann. 60-259(f). The district court denied the motion as untimely, observing that a motion under section 60-259(f) must be filed within ten days after entry of judgment, and Kan. Stat. Ann. 60-206(b) specifically prohibits a district court from extending this time period. After the thirty-day time limitation for filing notice of appeal had expired, Park City appealed the summary judgment ruling. The court of appeals dismissed the appeal in part for lack of jurisdiction and affirmed the district court's decision in part, concluding that the unique circumstances doctrine, which permits an appellate court to exercise jurisdiction over a late appeal if the appellant reasonably relied on some judicial action, did not save the untimely appeal. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the doctrine could not be used to extend a statutory deadline that was jurisdictional.
Landowners owned property near an airport that was zoned as agricultural. Landowners filed an application with the City to classify their property as planned single-family residential and to approve a preliminary plat for a subdivision. Initially, the rezoning was approved, but after the County brought suit, Landowners initiated a new application to rezone the property and, following the directives of Kan. Stat. Ann. 3-307e, to seek the approval of the County once the City approved the rezoning and the plat. The County denied Landowners' rezoning application. On review, the district court held that the City was the zoning authority and the County took a quasi-judicial role in reviewing the City's rezoning decision. The court concluded that the County had failed to overcome the presumption that the City's decision was reasonable and upheld the City's decision to approve the rezoning. On appeal, the Supreme Court reversed, holding the district court's ruling was erroneous because section 3-307e allows the County to reach an independent determination that a court must presume to be reasonable, and to successfully challenge the County's action under section 3-307e, a landowner must prove that the County's action was unlawful or unreasonable. Remanded.
Posted in: Government & Administrative Law, Kansas Supreme Court, Real Estate & Property Law, Zoning, Planning & Land Use