Justia Zoning, Planning & Land Use Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Montana Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court in this litigation related to the expansion of an agricultural zoning district through citizen initiative to include the area where Montana Artesian Water Company had been developing a large-scale water bottling plant, holding that there was no error or abuse of discretion.At issue on appeal was whether Montana Artesian's water bottling facility was a valid nonconforming use under the Egan Slough Zoning District Regulations. Montana Artesian raised numerous issues on cross appeal. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court (1) properly denied Montana Artesian's motion for summary judgment on the validity of the ballot initiative process; (2) did not err in affirming the conclusion that Montana Artesian's facility was a legal nonconforming use; and (3) did not err in concluding that the initiative was not unconstitutional or illegal reverse spot zoning. View "Egan Slough Community, Yes! v. Flathead County Board of County Commissioners" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the ruling of the district court that Whitefish City did not engage in illegal spot zoning and reversed the district court's ruling that Whitefish City Ordinance 18-23, which specified additional conditional uses, violated the uniformity requirement found in Mont. Code Ann. 76-2-302(2), holding that the City acted within its discretion in enacting the ordinance.This case involved an undeveloped parcel in The Lakes neighborhood known as Area 2(c). IO2.5, a series member of IO-3, LLC, filed a request with the City to amend Ordinance 99-9 to allow use of a conditional use permit (CUP) instead of a planned unit development (PUD) to develop Area 2(c). The City Council approved the request and approved Ordinance 18-23, directing amendment of the official zoning map and permitting development of Area 2(c) through a CUP instead of a PUD. Plaintiffs brought this complaint alleging that Ordinance 18-23 violates the statutory uniformity requirement. The district court struck the portion of Ordinance 18-23 that specified additional conditional uses. The Supreme Court held that the district court (1) did not err in ruling that Ordinance 18-23 did not constitute spot zoning; and (2) erred in ruling that Ordinance 18-23 violated section 76-2-302(2)'s uniformity requirement. View "Hartshorne v. Whitefish" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the district court's order granting summary judgment to Arnold Bakie and determining that Mines Management, Inc.'s (MMI) use of an adit and underground tunnel traversing Defendants' unpatented mining claims constituted trespass, holding that the district court erred in determining that Bakie possessed valid unpatented mining claims, thus entitling him to summary judgment, and in determining that MMI's use of the adit and underground tunnel constituted a trespass.MMI filed a complaint against Bakie and other defendants seeking a declaratory judgment that the mining claims owned by Defendants were invalid. Defendants countersued, alleging that MMI's use of the adit and underground tunnel constituted a trespass. The district court granted summary judgment to Bakie, determining that Bakie's claims were valid unpatented mining claims and that MMI was liable for trespass. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the district court erred in granting summary judgment for Bakie because there was no evidence of valuable mineral deposits on the claims at issue; and (2) for the same reasons, the district court erred in determining that MMI committed trespass by using the adit and underground tunnel. View "Mines Management, Inc. v. Fus" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court denying Landowners' petition for writ of review asserting that the Ravalli County Board of County Commissioners exceeded its jurisdiction to grant or deny Landowners' petition for abandonment, holding that Landowners failed to meet the statutory requirement for issuance of a writ of review.Landowners erected a gate that obstructed a portion of a county road. Landowners petitioned the Board to abandon that portion of the road, but the Board denied the petition for abandonment and ordered the gate removed. Landowners later filed their petition for a writ of review. The district court denied Landowners' petition for a writ of review and accompanying application for preliminary injunction on the basis that the Board did not exceed its jurisdiction. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Landowners failed to show that the Board exceeded its jurisdiction. View "Bugli v. Ravalli County" on Justia Law

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In this case challenging the approval of a permit to build a bridge on certain property the Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court entering judgment in favor of Community Association for North Shore Conservation, Inc. (CANSC) and the order denying CANSC's request for attorney fees, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion.Intervenor Jolene Dugan, who owned a peninsula-shaped parcel of land on the shore of Flathead Lake, sought to build a bridge on her property to connect what was sometimes an intermittent island to the mainland. The Flathead County Board of County Commissioners approved the permit, and Dugan built the bridge. CANSC sought to overturn the approval of Dugan's permit. The district court entered an order requiring Dugan to take down the bridge and restore the area. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) CANSC had standing to bring this lawsuit; (2) the Board's approval of the bridge permit was arbitrary and capricious; (3) the district court did not abuse its discretion when it ordered Dugan to restore the lake to its original state; and (4) the district court did not abuse its discretion by refusing CANSC's request for attorney fees. View "Community Ass'n for North Shore Conservation, Inc. v. Flathead County" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s decision quashing Appellant’s petition for writ of mandate seeking an order directing that Park County rescind its order instructing him to cease construction of his septic system.Appellant was issued a permit to construct and install a permitted septic system on his property. Thereafter, the Park County Sanitarian found several deficiencies in Appellant’s application that would, in the Sanitarian’s determination, allow the proposed septic system to be operated in violation of the Park County Water Onsite Treatment Regulations and potentially create a threat to public health. The Sanitarian informed Appellant that the permit issued to him was voided and instructed him to cease construction of the septic system. Appellant filed a petition for writ of mandate and complaint for libel. The district court quashed the petition, concluding that a writ of mandate was inapplicable. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) mandate was not available in this case because the petition sought an order to direct Park County to undo an action already taken and because the Sanitarian’s voiding of the permit was a discretionary action; and (2) Appellant was not denied due process of law. View "Boehm v. Park County" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed three orders of the district court that directed Southwest Montana Building Industry Association (SWMBIA) to transfer funds from the impact fee payer class refund account (refund account) to the City of Bozeman, to submit an accounting of the refund account, and for contempt of court. The Court held (1) the district court did not exceed its authority when it ordered SWMBIA to transfer the funds remaining in the refund account to Bozeman; (2) the district court’s order regarding the transfer of the remaining refund account funds was enforceable; (3) the district court did not err when it did not dispose of the remaining refund account funds in accordance with Mont. R. Civ. P. 23(i)(3); (4) the district court did not abuse its discretion when it ordered SWMBIA to provide an accounting of the refund account; and (5) SWMBIA cannot obtain relief from the district court’s contempt order. View "Southwest Montana Building Industry Ass’n v. City of Bozeman" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed three orders of the district court that directed Southwest Montana Building Industry Association (SWMBIA) to transfer funds from the impact fee payer class refund account (refund account) to the City of Bozeman, to submit an accounting of the refund account, and for contempt of court. The Court held (1) the district court did not exceed its authority when it ordered SWMBIA to transfer the funds remaining in the refund account to Bozeman; (2) the district court’s order regarding the transfer of the remaining refund account funds was enforceable; (3) the district court did not err when it did not dispose of the remaining refund account funds in accordance with Mont. R. Civ. P. 23(i)(3); (4) the district court did not abuse its discretion when it ordered SWMBIA to provide an accounting of the refund account; and (5) SWMBIA cannot obtain relief from the district court’s contempt order. View "Southwest Montana Building Industry Ass’n v. City of Bozeman" on Justia Law

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Todd Carlson, who began construction on a detached garage on his property in a subdivision without first obtaining a zoning compliance permit, requested a variance from the Yellowstone County Board of Adjustment. The board denied the variance request, noting that Carlson had not done his due diligence and had carelessly disregarded zoning regulations. The district court upheld the Board’s decision. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court properly declined to second-guess the Board’s discretionary determinations and did not abuse its discretion in affirming the Board’s denial of Carlson’s variance request. View "Carlson v. Yellowstone County Board of Adjustment" on Justia Law

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Two zoning actions were at issue in this proceeding - the “Text Amendment” and the “Map Amendment.” Citizens for a Better Flathead and Sharon DeMeester (collectively, Citizens) initiated this action challenging the Board of County Commissioners of Flathead County’s adoption of both the Text Amendment and the Map Amendment. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Citizens. The Commissioners appealed. Uncertain over the scope of relief granted by the district court’s order, Citizens cross-appealed from any partial denial of the relief it sought. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the district court did not err by holding that the Map Amendment was invalid for failing to comply with statutory requirements; (2) the Text Amendment was not invalid for failure to comply with public participation requirements; and (3) the district court erred in awarding attorneys’ fees to Citizens. View "Citizens For A Better Flathead v. Flathead County Commissioners" on Justia Law