Justia Zoning, Planning & Land Use Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in North Dakota Supreme Court
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Northwest Landowners Association filed suit to challenge the constitutionality of North Dakota Senate Bill 2344, which related to subsurface pore space. The district court granted the Association’s cross-motion for summary judgment, concluding S.B. 2344 was unconstitutional under the state and federal takings clauses. The State and Continental Resources appealed the district court’s summary judgment order and amended judgment. On appeal, the State argued S.B. 2344 did not violate the takings clauses and did not constitute an unconstitutional gift, and that the district court misapplied N.D.R. Civ.P. 56 by failing to consider evidence submitted by the State. Continental Resources argued the court erred in analyzing the Association’s facial challenge, in determining pore space had value as a matter of law, and in denying Rule 56(f) discovery. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court erred in invalidating the entirety of S.B. 2344. The trial court’s judgment was affirmed to the extent that it declared certain portions unconstitutional, but reversed to the extent it declared the remainder of the bill inseparable and invalid. View "Northwest Landowners Association v. State, et al." on Justia Law

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Elton Lovro appealed a judgment dismissing his complaint with prejudice after the district court granted summary judgment in favor of the City of Finley (“City”). Lovro owned a house and property in Finley, Steele County, North Dakota. In March 2020, the City’s water line connected to the curb stop leading to Lovro’s home broke. Water flowed onto the property, damaging Lovro’s driveway and basement. Lovro sued the City for negligence and gross negligence, alleging the damages were caused by the City’s failure to properly operate, maintain, repair, and inspect their water system. Lovro also sued the City for breach of contract based on the City’s failure to properly and safely deliver water to his home. The City responded by denying the allegations that it was negligent, grossly negligent or that its acts or omissions caused the damages. The City denied the existence of any contractual relationship between Lovro and the City. The City affirmatively alleged that it was immune from suit under chapter 32-12.1 of the North Dakota Century Code. Lovro argues the district court erred in granting summary judgment dismissing his claims because the ruling was premature and discovery was still ongoing. Finding no reversible error, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the district court. View "Lovro v. City of Finley" on Justia Law

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Mark McAllister appealed an amended judgment of condemnation that ultimately allowed the City of West Fargo to use its eminent domain power to acquire a right of way across his property. After review of the district court record, the North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court did not err in holding West Fargo was authorized to use quick-take eminent domain procedures for its sewage improvement project. Furthermore, the Court concluded the trial court did not abuse its discretion in granting West Fargo’s motion in limine to exclude testimony from trial that the taking impacted McAllister’s property’s conformance with the city’s setback requirements. View "City of West Fargo v. McAllister" on Justia Law

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Brenda and Gene Sauvageau petitioned the North Dakota Supreme Court to exercise its original jurisdiction and issue a writ of supervision directing the district court to stop the Cass County Joint Water Resource District from using quick take eminent domain to acquire their property. The Sauvageaus claimed the District was prohibited from using quick take eminent domain to acquire a permanent right of way easement over their entire property. The Supreme Court concluded the quick take process was not available because the District is taking more than a right of way in the Sauvageaus’ property. The Court granted the Sauvageaus’ petition, directed the district court to vacate its order denying the Sauvageaus’ motion to dismiss the District’s complaint and remanded for further proceedings. View "Sauvageau, et al. v. Bailey, et al." on Justia Law

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Divide County, North Dakota appealed judgments dismissing its complaints against Stateline Services, Inc., Power Energy Logistics, LLC, and five individuals (collectively, “Defendants”), which alleged they operated overweight vehicles on restricted roads. In 2019, Divide County imposed certain weight restrictions on county and township roads due to wet conditions. Truck drivers for Stateline Services and Power Energy Logistics were pulled over on township roads and cited for operating overweight vehicles. The County filed this civil action against the Defendants for statutory damages under N.D.C.C. 39-12- 17. After a bench trial, the district court dismissed the complaints, concluding the County failed to provide sufficient public notice of the weight restrictions through a uniform county permit system, and failed to erect and maintain signs at each end of the highway. Finding no reversible error, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the district court. View "Divide County v. Stateline Service, et al." on Justia Law

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Phillip Armstrong appealed a judgment dismissing his amended complaint. The district court granted dismissal of the amended complaint after finding Armstrong had failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. In 1996, Armstrong filed a surety bond with the North Dakota Industrial Commission when he became the operator of several oil wells on private land. In 2001, Armstrong also began operating wells on federal lands. Armstrong was engaged with federal authorities in formulating a reclamation plan for the federal lands. The wells were not producing oil, and Armstrong requested a release of his surety bond filed with the Commission. The Commission conditioned the release of the bond on Armstrong performing a geoprobe assessment of the wells, which Armstrong refused. Armstrong thereafter filed a complaint in the district court seeking release of his bond. The court ultimately concluded Armstrong's claims were barred by his failure to exhaust his administrative remedies, rejected Armstrong’s argument state law did not apply because of federal preemption, and entered a judgment dismissing the action. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded federal regulations did not preempt the application of N.D.C.C. ch. 38-08, Armstrong failed to exhaust his administrative remedies, and the court properly dismissed the action. View "Armstrong v. Helms" on Justia Law

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In August 2017, the City of West Fargo passed a resolution determining it was necessary to construct a sewer improvement project. The project consisted of the design and installation of two sewer pipes between West Fargo and Fargo. To complete the project, West Fargo had to acquire a right of way across certain private property, including Mark McAllister’s. McAllister appealed a judgment allowing the City of West Fargo to use its quick-take eminent domain power to acquire a right of way across his property. Because the North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court inappropriately granted the N.D.R.Civ.P. 54(b) order certifying the judgment as final, it dismissed the appeal. View "City of West Fargo v. McAllister, et al." on Justia Law

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Landowners Cash Aaland, Larry Bakko, and Penny Cirks, appealed orders granting the Cass County Joint Water Resource District (the “District”) a right of entry onto their properties to conduct surveys and examinations related to the Fargo-Moorhead Flood Diversion Project. The Landowners argued these surveys and examinations are beyond the scope of N.D.C.C. 32-15-06. After review, the North Dakota Supreme Court reversed, concluding the District’s right of entry exceeded the limited testing permitted under the statute. The matter was remanded for a determination on attorney’s fees and costs. View "Cass County Joint Water Resource District v. Aaland, et al." on Justia Law

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Grand Prairie Agriculture, LLP, appealed a district court order affirming a decision of the Pelican Township Board of Supervisors to deny Grand Prairie’s petition for approval of the site of a proposed animal feeding operation (“AFO”). The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the Township misinterpreted and misapplied the law in applying setback requirements. The district court’s order was reversed and the matter remanded to the Township for further proceedings. View "Grand Prairie Agriculture v. Pelican Township Board of Supervisors" on Justia Law

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R & F Financial Services, LLC, appealed a district court order dismissing its claims against Cudd Pressure Control, Inc., and RPC, Inc., and granting Cudd’s and RPC’s counterclaims and cross claims. North American Building Solutions, LLC (“NABS”) and Cudd Pressure Control, Inc. (“Cudd”) entered into an agreement where Cudd would lease from NABS 60 temporary housing modules for employee housing. The terms of the Lease required Cudd, at its sole expense, to obtain any conditional use permits, variances or zoning approvals “required by any local, city, township, county or state authorities, which are necessary for the installation and construction of the modules upon the Real Property.” The Lease was set to commence following substantial completion of the installation of all the modules and was to expire 60 months following the commencement date. NABS assigned its interest in 28 modules under lease to R & F; NABS sold the modules to R & F by bill of sale. Cudd accepted the final 32 modules from NABS, to which R & F was not a party. RPC, as the parent company of Cudd, guaranteed Cudd’s performance of payment obligations to R & F under the Lease. The Lease was for a set term and did not contain an option for Cudd to purchase the modules at the expiration of that set term. At the time R & F purchased NABS’s interest in the Lease, it understood the purpose of the Lease was to fulfill Cudd’s need for employee housing. The County required a conditional use permit for workforce housing, and Cudd had been issued a permit allowing for the use of the modules as workforce housing. The City of Williston annexed the Property within its corporate limits. Thereafter, the City adopted a resolution that declared all workforce housing was temporary and extension of permits was subject to review. The City modified the expiration date policy and extended all approvals for workforce housing facilities to December 31, 2015, such that all permits would expire the same day. In December 2015, Cudd successfully extended its permit for the maximum time permitted to July 1, 2016. Cudd sent a letter to NABS stating that it viewed the Lease as being terminated by operation of law as of July 1, 2016. R & F argued the trial court erred in finding the Lease was not a finance lease and, in the alternative, that the court erred in finding the doctrines of impossibility of performance and frustration of purpose to be inapplicable. Finding no reversible error, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed. View "R & F Financial Services v. North American Building Solutions, et al." on Justia Law