Justia Zoning, Planning & Land Use Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Nebraska Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court dismissed Appellants' appeal from the district court's dismissal of their appeal of a county board's grant of a conditional use permit (CUP) for the development of a commercial wind turbine operation, holding that this Court lacked jurisdiction to hear this appeal.In 2019, the Cherry County Board of Commissioners granted BSH Kilgore, LLC a CUP for the development of a commercial wind turbine operation in Cherry County. Thereafter, the Board granted BSH a four-year extension to build the operation. Appellants filed a "Complaint and Petition on Appeal" challenging the Board's action in granting the extension and asking for a trial de novo. The court dismissed Appellants' appeal, concluding that it lacked jurisdiction because the Board's decision was subject to review only through a petition in error. The Supreme Court dismissed Appellants' subsequent appeal, holding that, under the circumstances, the district court lacked jurisdiction, and therefore, this Court, too, lacked jurisdiction. View "Preserve of the Sandhills, LLC v. Cherry County" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the orders of the district court finding that the City of Bellevue lacked authority to adopt an ordinance to annex Landowners' land, holding that the district court erred by finding that the annexation was invalid for the reasons it identified.Landowners filed separate complaints asserting that the City had exceeded its authority and powers granted to a city of the first class by Neb. Rev. Stat. 16-130 because the subject land was not adjacent to or contiguous with the existing City limits and was agricultural and rural in character. The two actions were consolidated, and the district court found in favor of Landowners. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court erred by finding that Landowners' properties were rural in character and were neither contiguous nor adjacent to the City. View "Darling Ingredients Inc. v. City of Bellevue" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court granting summary judgment for the County of Sarpy and declaring two annexation ordinances and a zoning extension ordinance adopted by the City of Gretna invalid, holding that the ordinances were valid.In seeking to have the ordinances adopted by Gretna declared invalid, Sarpy County argued that Gretna exceeded its annexation authority under Neb. Rev. Stat. 17-407(2) because the annexed area included twenty-two parcels with agricultural land that was rural in character. The district court granted summary judgment for Sarpy County. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the annexed area was urban, rather than rural, in character, and the ordinances were a lawful exercise of Gretna's annexation powers. View "County of Sarpy v. City of Gretna" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court approving the Dodge County Board of Adjustment's grant of variance for a 4-H pigpen built in violation of county setback requirements, holding that competent evidence supported the district court's factual findings and that the district court did not err or abuse its discretion in approving the variance.The variance was based on, within the meaning of Neb. Rev. Stat. 23-168.03(1)(c), peculiar and exceptional practical difficulties or exceptional and undue hardships. In affirming the Board's decision to grant a variance, the district court found that the Board's decision was reasonable, well considered, and within the Board's discretion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not make an error of law or abuse its discretion in determining that the narrowness or shape of the property resulted in sufficient hardship to justify upholding the Board's decision to grant the variance. View "Dolezal-Soukup v. Dodge County Board of Adjustment" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court finding that E. Jane Egan lacked standing to challenge the Lancaster County Board of Commissioners' issuance of a special use permit allowing Randy Essink to construct and operate a poultry production facility on land within the county's agricultural zoning district and that the permit was appropriately issued, holding that the district court did not err.Egan and Janis Howlett challenged the Board's decision in the district court, asserting that the proposed poultry production facility would lead to adverse effects on the environment, properly values, public health, and local infrastructure. The district court affirmed the issuance of the special use permit, concluding that Egan did not have standing and that the permit was appropriately issued. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err by failing to find that Egan had standing and finding that the special use permit was properly approved. View "Egan v. County of Lancaster" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court affirming a county board of adjustment's decision affirming the zoning administrator's grant of a zoning permit for construction of a new residence within an agricultural intensive district, holding that the district court did not err or abuse its discretion.The zoning administrator approved a zoning permit for the new residence. Appellants appealed, arguing that the zoning permit was for a "non-farm residence," and therefore, the construction was not permitted under zoning regulations. The board affirmed the zoning administrator's decision, and the district court affirmed. At issue in this appeal was whether the proposed residence was a "non-farm residence" under the applicable zoning regulations. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the board of adjustment correctly determined that the new residence was not a "non-farm residence." View "Hochstein v. Cedar County Board of Adjustment" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court upholding the decision of the City of Omaha Zoning Board of Appeals denying Appellants' request for a variance from the requirements of Omaha's zoning code based on a claim of unnecessary hardship, holding that the district court did not err or abuse its discretion in upholding the Board's decision.Appellants owned a 4.66-acre parcel of land that was zoned for agricultural use. After the City of Omaha Planning Department concluded that the property was being used for activities not permitted by ordinance in an agricultural district Appellants applied for a variance requesting waiver that would allow them to deviate from zoning requirements. The Board denied Appellants' request for a variance. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that competent evidence supported the district court's findings and its conclusion that Appellants' situation did not warrant a variance under Neb. Rev. Stat. 14-411. View "Bruning v. City of Omaha Zoning Board of Appeals" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing Plaintiffs’ claims seeking a declaratory judgment that a redevelopment project in the City of Falls City was not planned or adopted in accordance with the Community Development Law, Neb. Rev. Stat. 18-2101 to 18-2144, and requesting a permanent injunction to prevent the project from proceeding, holding that all of Plaintiffs’ assignments of error were without merit.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) all of Plaintiffs’ claims challenging the procedure by which the redevelopment project was adopted and the validity and enforceability of the redevelopment agreement and bond were foreclosed by sections 18-2129 and 18-2042.01; and (2) two meetings challenged in this suit did not violate Nebraska’s Open Meetings Act, Neb. Rev. Stat. 84-1407 to 84-1414. View "Salem Grain Co. v. City of Falls City" on Justia Law

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Royal filed a quiet title action against his predecessors in interest and against Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) alleging fee title ownership of land along the railroad right-of-way passing through his Otoe County property by adverse possession. OPPD counterclaimed, alleging that it had acquired fee simple title to that same land, also by adverse possession. The district court granted Royal default judgment as to his predecessors, but following a trial, denied both Royal’s and OPPD’s claims of title. The Nebraska Supreme Court vacated the entry of default as “leading to an illogical result” in extinguishing the rights of the former owners. The court affirmed as to OPPD, which owns an easement over the right-of-way and not a fee simple. That easement was obtained in 1869; its uses are permissive and a direct or incidental use associated with the operation of a rail line. Under Nebraska law, a permissive use is not adverse and cannot ripen into ownership by adverse possession. The court also affirmed as to Royal. While expert testimony indicated that some of the land had been used for farming, it did not support the conclusion that it was done for a continuous period sufficient to prove adverse possession. Royal acknowledged that he had not continuously lived on the property and had not continuously assisted with its farming. View "Royal v. McKee" on Justia Law

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In 1998, the Laus bought land from Walters, who financed the purchase. An attorney, chosen by Walters, drafted the documents. The deed of trust included a right of first refusal that ended once the financing was paid. At closing, the warranty deed stated: “No sale ... shall be consummated without giving at least 30 days written notice of the terms to Grantor. Grantor shall have the right to buy the lot on the same terms.” In 2007, the Laus finished paying on the note. Walters executed a deed of reconveyance. Around 2013, the Laus decided to sell the land with their trailer home and contacted a real estate agent, who told Walters about the listing. Walters did not mention his right of first refusal. The Laus entered a purchase agreement with Sporer. Neither that agreement nor the Laus’ affidavit regarding debts, liens, and adverse claims mentioned the right of first refusal. The Laus conveyed the property to the Sporers by warranty deed, which was recorded. Walters sued. The court granted the Laus and the Sporers summary judgment, holding that the deed, which was not signed by the Laus, did not satisfy the statute of frauds, Neb. Rev. Stat. 36-105. The Nebraska Supreme Court reversed, holding that a right of first refusal in a deed is an enforceable agreement under the statute of frauds upon the acceptance of the deed. View "Walters v. Sporer" on Justia Law