Articles Posted in North Carolina Supreme Court

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Landowner sought to develop a townhouse community on residential property and obtained a zoning permit to develop the townhouses. Petitioner appealed the Zoning Officer’s formal determination to the Warren County Board of Adjustment. The Board overturned the Zoning Officer’s decision and revoked the zoning permit issued to Landowner. Landowner and Warren County subsequently entered into a consent order agreeing that the zoning permit would be reinstated. A Zoning Officer then issued a determination that the subject property was not restricted by Warren County Zoning Ordinances. Petitioner appealed the Zoning Officer’s determination. The Zoning Officer, however, did not place Petitioner’s appeal on the Board’s agenda. Petitioner filed a petition for writ of mandamus in superior court, requesting that the court compel Respondents to place his appeal on the Board’s next available agenda for a hearing. The court granted the petition. The Court of Appeals affirmed, concluding that the Zoning Officer had a mandatory statutory duty to transmit Petitioner’s appeal to the Board and the Petitioner had a right to have its appeal placed on the Board’s agenda. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that a zoning officer may not refuse to transmit an appeal from his own zoning determining to the county board of adjustment for its review. View "Morningstar Marinas/Eaton Ferry, LLC v. Warren County" on Justia Law

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A property owner sought a driveway permit from the State Department of Transportation (DOT) to connect its proposed subdivision's system of roads to a state road by which the property was accessed. Two railroad companies opposed the permit, claiming that the rail traffic at a nearby crossing, located approximately one-quarter of a mile away from the proposed driveway connection, might pose a safety hazard to future residents. Consequently, a DOT engineer denied the permit. On appeal, a DOT division engineer granted the permit request subject to the conditions that the owner make improvements to the railroad crossing and obtain the owning and operating railroads' consent to the improvements. On judicial review, the trial court ruled in favor of DOT, finding the agency acted within the scope of its powers in issuing the driveway permit subject to these conditions. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the conditions imposed by DOT in this case were not statutorily authorized, and therefore, DOT exceeded its authority when it issued the conditional permit. View "High Rock Lake Partners, LLC v. Dep't of Transp." on Justia Law

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This appeal considered whether defendant County had the authority pursuant to its general zoning powers or, in the alternative, a 2004 law enacted by the General Assembly, to adopt an adequate public facilities ordinance (APFO) that effectively conditioned approval of new residential construction projects on developers paying a fee to subsidize new school construction to prevent overcrowding in the County's public schools. The trial court concluded that the County did not have the authority to enact its APFO pursuant to North Carolina's general zoning or subdivision statutes. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the County did not have the statutory authority to adopt its APFO, and N.C. Sess. Laws 2004-39 did not authorize enactment of the APFO. View "Lanvale Props. v County of Cabarrus" on Justia Law

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This case involved a dispute between the City of Kannapolis (Defendant), which rezoned rural land to promote commercial development, and neighboring landowners (Plaintiffs). At issue was whether Defendant approved a statement of reasonableness as required by N.C. Gen. Stat. 160A-383 when adopting the zoning amendment. The trial court entered an order granting Defendant's motion for summary judgment on all claims and dismissing Plaintiffs' declaratory judgment action. The court of appeals affirmed, holding that Plaintiffs failed to show the city council did not approve a statement. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the zoning amendment at issue was invalid because Defendant failed to properly approve a statement under section 160A-383, thus rendering the amendment void. Remanded. View "Wally v. City of Kannapolis" on Justia Law

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Morris Communications Corporation d/b/a Fairway Outdoor Advertising (Fairway) sought to re-erect a sign after its lawfully constructed sign was condemned by the DOT. Fairway applied for and received a sign permit for the relocated sign. The permit required that the work commence six months from the date of issuance. After Fairway took down its sign and reinstalled it, the city sent Fairway a notice of violation, asserting that the sign violated the city's outdoor advertising ban and asserting that Fairway's sign permit had expired because work on the project had not commenced prior to the permit's expiration date. Fairway appealed the notice to the board of adjustment (BOA), which affirmed the determination. The court of appeals affirmed. Fairway appealed. The Supreme Court held that the appellate court erred in determining the BOA's interpretation of the sign ordinance was entitled to deference under de novo review. Because the BOA's interpretation of its sign ordinance constituted an error of law, the Court reversed.