Justia Zoning, Planning & Land Use Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Professional Malpractice & Ethics
Piscitelli v. City of Garfield Zoning Board of Adjustment
The ethical mandate in N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.5(d), prohibiting planning and zoning board members from hearing cases when cases of personal interest "might reasonably be expected to impair [their] objectivity or independence of judgment," was at the heart of this appeal. The Conte family filed an application to develop three lots in the City of Garfield. The issue raised was whether any members of the Garfield Zoning Board of Adjustment had a disqualifying conflict of interest because of the involvement of certain Conte family members in the Zoning Board proceedings. The Piscitellis objected to the development project and claimed that a conflict of interest barred Zoning Board members who were employed or had immediate family members employed by the Board of Education from hearing the application. The Piscitellis also contended that any members who were patients or who had immediate family members who were patients of the Contes also had a disqualifying conflict. No Zoning Board member disqualified himself or herself on conflict-of-interest grounds. The New Jersey Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case for further proceedings, namely for the trial court to make findings of whether any Zoning Board member had a disqualifying conflict of interest in hearing the application for site plan approval and variances in this case. View "Piscitelli v. City of Garfield Zoning Board of Adjustment" on Justia Law
Wedel v. Beadle County Comm’n
Westside Gilts RE, LLC submitted an application to the Beadle County Planning Commission for a conditional use permit (CUP) to construct and operate a concentrated animal feeding operation. The Planning Commission recommended approval of the CUP. The Beadle County Board of Adjustment (Board) approved the CUP. Petitioners appealed, arguing that the Board was without authority to issue the CUP because the county zoning ordinances passed in 2011 (Ordinances), which authorized the Board to grant the permit, were improperly enacted. The circuit court reversed the Board’s decision granting the CUP, concluding that the Ordinances were improperly enacted. The Supreme Court (1) affirmed the circuit court’s ruling reversing the Board’s decision to grant the CUP, holding that the Ordinances were invalid because the Planning Commission failed to comply with S.D. Codified Laws 11-2-18, and therefore, the Board lacked jurisdiction to grant a CUP; but (2) reversed the circuit court’s order declaring the Ordinances invalid, as the order exceeded the options available to the court under its limited scope of review on certiorari. View "Wedel v. Beadle County Comm’n" on Justia Law
Atlantic Coast Builders & Contractors v. Lewis
Respondent Atlantic Coast Builders & Contractors, LLC brought an action against Petitioner Laura Lewis for negligent misrepresentation, unjust enrichment, and breach of contract. In 2003, Petitioner, acting through a leasing agent, entered into a commercial lease whereby Respondent would lease from Petitioner property located in Beaufort County. Although Petitioner represented in the lease that the property could lawfully be used for a building and construction office, the property was zoned "rural," meaning virtually all commercial uses were prohibited. Respondent occupied the property and made numerous alterations to it. A few months later, a Beaufort County zoning official served Respondent with notice and warning of two violations for Respondent's failure to obtain a certificate of zoning compliance before occupying the premises and its failure to obtain a sign permit before erecting a sign. Respondent vacated the property, relocated its business, and ceased making rental payments. Respondent then instituted this action. Petitioner denied the allegations and made a counterclaim for breach of contract. The master in equity entered judgment in favor of Respondent. The Court of Appeals affirmed, finding the master properly granted judgment in favor of Respondent. Upon review, the Supreme Court found that Petitioner did not appeal all grounds on which the master's judgment was based. Namely, she did not challenge the determination that Respondent was entitled to recover based on unjust enrichment. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the master-in-equity's and appellate court's decisions in favor of Respondent.
Jachetta v. United States, et al.
Plaintiff sued defendants, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Alaska Department of Transportation (Alaska), and the Alyeska Pipeline Service Company (Alyeska), in federal court, alleging causes of action for inverse condemnation, injunctive relief, nuisance, breach of fiduciary duties, and civil rights violations. At issue was whether the district court properly dismissed the action against the BLM and Alaska on the basis of sovereign immunity. The court held that federal sovereign immunity barred plaintiff's inverse condemnation, injunctive relief, and civil rights violations claims against the United States, but that the Federal Tort Claims Act, 25 U.S.C. 345, could provide a waiver of the government sovereign immunity for plaintiff's nuisance and breach of fiduciary duties claims. Additionally, the court held that the Eleventh Amendment barred plaintiff's action against Alaska in its entirety. Accordingly, the judgment was affirmed in part and reversed in part and remanded.