Articles Posted in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

by
In 2009, Mosley's Wickliffe, Ohio Motel needed a tenant for its lounge. Miller's nightclub in neighboring Willoughby had drawn the ire of law enforcement. The two executed a lease; Miller applied for permits. Miller claims that the city was initially receptive, but, after informing it of his plan to host a “Hip Hop night, [catering] to African American[s],” the city allegedly changed its position. Miller’s occupancy permit application was denied pending revised parking plans. Miller needed a liquor license from the state. The city did not oppose Miller’s application, but religious organizations did. The city passed a resolution, supporting that opposition. The state denied Miller’s application, citing the objections of the religious organizations and “the peace and good order of the neighborhood.” Miller did not appeal. The city passed Ordinance 2009-49, requiring “nightclubs” to obtain a permit and delineating the health ad safety responsibilities; it restricted nightclub locations to buffer schools, churches, libraries, parks, taverns, bars, other nightclubs, and residential districts. Miller and Mosley never applied for nightclub permits. Miller became involved with Cirino in a proposed billiards hall, the temporary-occupancy permit for which was then revoked. The three sued under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and 42 U.S.C. 2000A (racial discrimination) with state law and takings claims. The district court dismissed. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. Plaintiffs cannot demonstrate that Wickliffe had reached a final decision under the ordinance, or that they faced a credible threat of prosecution, and cannot show a particularized and concrete injury sufficient to confer jurisdiction. View "Mosley v. City of Wickliffe" on Justia Law

by
AT&T applied for a permit from the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Planning Commission to build a 125-foot cell-phone tower. Neighboring residents opposed the application, arguing that the tower would spoil the view from their properties, disturb the character of the neighborhood, endanger public health and safety, and depress residential property values. They cited a staff report concerning the tower's visual impact, an expert report on radio frequency emissions, and valuation studies. The Commission granted the site permit. The Fayette County Circuit Court dismissed an appeal on procedural grounds. A state court appeal is pending. The district court dismissed a separate suit alleging negligence, negligence per se, gross negligence, and nuisance. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, citing “obstacle” preemption by the federal Telecommunications Act of 1996. The court also noted that the claims constituted an improper collateral attack on the Commission’s decision to approve the tower. View "Robbins v. New Cingular Wireless PCS, LLC" on Justia Law

by
The developer sought rezoning for a Rockford condominium project. Objectors filed a protest, triggering the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act's special approval procedure, which requires a super majority vote by the city council. The proposal failed; three of the council’s five members voted to approve rezoning. The developer sued, alleging due process violations and regulatory taking. The district court denied Objectors’ motion to intervene. The parties reached a settlement in mediation. The city council approved the settlement by a simple majority; the district court entered a consent judgment that ordered the property rezoned and the Planned Unit Development Agreement approved, dismissing the case. Objectors filed a state court suit, claiming that the city had circumvented the Act and its zoning ordinances and seeking a preliminary injunction. The city and developer returned to federal court, seeking to enjoin the state court from granting a preliminary injunction and to enjoin Objectors from otherwise seeking to invalidate the prior federal consent judgment under the All Writs Act, 28 U.S.C. 1651, and the Anti-Injunction Act, 28 U.S.C. 2283. The court ruled that it lacked jurisdiction to enjoin the state-court proceeding. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, citing the broad prohibition on such action under the Anti-Injunction Act and concluding that the “relitigation exception” did not apply because the state court issue was never raised in the prior federal proceeding and because Objectors lacked the requisite connection to that litigation to be bound by the consent judgment. View "202 N. Monroe, LLC v. Sower" on Justia Law

by
Because of zoning by Upper Arlington, a suburb of Columbus, Ohio, Tree of Life Christian Schools could not use its otherwise-unused land and building to operate a religious school. The government denied a rezoning application because such a use would not accord with provisions of the government’s Master Plan, which call for maintaining commercial use zoning to maximize tax revenue. TOL filed suit under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), 42 U.S.C. 2000cc– 2000cc-5, alleging that the government illegally failed to treat TOL Christian Schools on equal terms with nonreligious assemblies or institutions. The district court granted the government summary judgment. The Sixth Circuit reversed and remanded for resolution of the factual issue: whether the government treated nonreligious assemblies or institutions that would fail to maximize income-tax revenue in the same way it has treated the proposed religious school. View "Tree of Life Christian Schools v. City of Upper Arlington" on Justia Law

by
Thomas owns hotels. He purchased 34 acres adjacent to I-24 between Nashville and Chattanooga in 2013 for $160,000, to develop a first-tier hotel. Most of the property is zoned agricultural-residential; a smaller portion is zoned rural center district. It has always been used for agriculture, The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) filed a condemnation action (40 U.S.C. 3113) with a deposit of $15,500 as estimated just compensation, for an easement 100 feet wide (1.72 acres) along I-24 for above-ground electrical power transmission lines. Thomas requested a trial on just compensation and disclosed his intent to present expert testimony that the property was no longer feasible for hotel development, because “power lines create both a visual and psychological barrier to guests.” The court granted the TVA’s motion to exclude the testimony, based on reliability defects. At trial, Thomas explained that the power lines are dangerous and unattractive. Thomas had not sought a rezoning. TVA’s expert opined that it was not financially feasible to develop a hotel on the property because of soil conditions, frontage, and the need for a zoning change and utilities. The court awarded Thomas just compensation of $10,000. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, rejecting Thomas’s arguments about valuation. Thomas, who bore the burden of proof, did not overcome the presumption that the highest and best use was the property's existing use as agricultural land. View "Tenn. Valley Auth. v. 1.72 Acres of Land in Tenn." on Justia Law