Justia Zoning, Planning & Land Use Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Utah Supreme Court
Bell Canyon Acres Homeowners Ass’n v. McLelland
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court declining to enter summary judgment for Appellants on the grounds that the Utah Declaratory Judgment Act requires neighbors objecting to fences that encroach on bridle paths to sue all homeowners whose property is subject to the bridle path easement, rather than just those homeowners who have fences that infringe on the path, holding that no such joinder is required. Appellants brought suit alleging that Appellees - four of approximately one hundred homeowners in Bell Canyon Acres Community - intruded upon bridle paths in the neighborhood for the use of residents, thereby violating the restrictive covenants that apply to the lots in Bell Canyon Acres. Appellants sought a declaratory judgment determining the parties' on the bridle paths and declaring that Appellees were encroaching on the bridle paths. The district court denied Appellants' motion for summary judgment, concluding that Utah Code 78B-6-403(1) required that all homeowners in the community whose property was subject to the restrictive covenants and the bridle path easement (the outsiders) were required to be joined. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that section 403 provided no impediment to the declaratory judgment Appellants sought and that the outsiders did not need to be joined as parties. View "Bell Canyon Acres Homeowners Ass'n v. McLelland" on Justia Law
UDOT v. Kmart Corp.
In 2010, the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) condemned an access point from Bangerter Highway to the West Point Shopping Center. At the time of the condemnation, the shopping center was owned by FPA West Point, LLC. FPA leased buildings in the shopping center to a number of businesses, including K MART Corporation (Kmart). Both FPA and Kmart entered the condemnation proceedings, asserting rights to just compensation. The first appeal (Utah Department of Transportation v. FPA West Point, LLC) addressed valuation methods in the context of a condemnation award determination. In that case, the Utah Supreme Court held that courts must use the aggregate-of-interests approach (which determines the value of properties with divided ownership interests by assessing the value of each property interest separately) in deciding the amount of a condemnation award. In this appeal the issue presented for the Supreme Court's review centered on whether the district court erred by granting a condemnation award to Kmart, a lessee, even though Kmart’s lease contained a clause terminating its leasehold interest in the event of a condemnation. The Court held that it did: because the termination clause extinguished all of Kmart’s compensable property interests, Kmart was not entitled to compensation. Accordingly, the district court’s grant of a condemnation award to Kmart was reversed. View "UDOT v. Kmart Corp." on Justia Law
Potter v. South Salt Lake City
The Supreme Court held that a party alleging error by a land use authority is no longer required to establish that the “decision would have been different” but for the error under the standard set forth in Springville Citizens for a Better Community v. City of Springville, 979 P.2d 332 (Utah 1999). Instead, a party can establish prejudice by showing a reasonable likelihood that the error changed the land use authority’s decision. Appellants brought this lawsuit challenging the South Salt Lake City Council’s decision to close a portion of Truman and Burton Avenues. The City Council voted to vacate both streets in response to a petition by a car dealership. The district court granted summary judgment for the City. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, under the revised and clarified standard set forth in this opinion, Appellants failed to identify any prejudice resulting from any alleged deficiency in the petition. In addition, the petition to vacate was valid under Utah Code 10-2a-609.5, and notice of the City Council meetings was sufficient under Utah Code 10-9a-208. View "Potter v. South Salt Lake City" on Justia Law
McElhaney v. City of Moab
The Supreme Court vacated the decision of the district court reversing the decision of the Moab City Council denying Mary and Jeramey McElhaney’s application for a conditional use permit to operate a bed and breakfast in their residential neighborhood, holding that the district court erred by refusing to send the matter back to the Council for the entry of more detailed findings of fact and conclusions of law. After determining that the Council had not generated findings sufficient to support its decision, the district court overturned the Council’s decision to deny the McElhaneys’ application. The Supreme Court remanded the case for further proceedings, holding (1) on an appeal of a district court’s review of an administrative decision, the court reviews the district court’s decision and not the Council’s; and (2) the district court erred in overturning the Council’s decision without remanding to permit the Council to craft findings of fact and conclusions of law capable of appellate review. View "McElhaney v. City of Moab" on Justia Law
Fort Pierce Ind. Park Phases II, III & IV Owners Ass’n v. Shakespeare
Gloria and Thomas Shakespeare, GLOCO, LC, and Atlas Tower, LLC (collectively, Shakespeares) applied for permission from the Board of Trustees of the Fort Pierce Industrial Park Phases II, III & IV Owners Association (Association) to construct a cell phone tower on a lot located along River Road in the Fort Pierce Industrial Park (industrial park). The Association denied the application. When the Shakespeares proceeded to construct the cell phone tower, the Association brought suit, alleging that the Shakespeares breached the covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs) of the industrial park. After a bench trial, the district court held that the Board did not have the right to limit the number of cell phone towers in the industrial park. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the district court erred in strictly construing the CC&Rs in favor of the free and unrestricted use of property rather than applying neutral principles of contract construction; and (2) the Board had sufficient authority under the CC&Rs to deny the Shakespeares’ application. View "Fort Pierce Ind. Park Phases II, III & IV Owners Ass’n v. Shakespeare" on Justia Law
Central Utah Water Conservancy Dist. v. King
In 2006, the Central Utah Water Conservancy District (District) filed an action to condemn six waterfront lots owned by Petitioner. When negotiations reached an impasse on the value of the lots, the District instituted the underlying condemnation proceeding. The jury returned a verdict for Petitioner in the amount of $56,000. Petitioner filed a motion for a new trial, which the district court denied. Petitioner filed an appeal less than thirty days after the entry of the district court's ruling and order. The court of appeals dismissed Petitioner's appeal without prejudice based upon lack of jurisdiction, holding that under Utah R. Civ. P. 7(f)(2) and the Supreme Court's decision in Giusti v. Sterling Wentworth Corp., Petitioner's appeal was not ripe because it was not taken from a final, appealable order. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that under Rule 7(f)(2), Petitioner's appeal was premature and that the court of appeals therefore correctly dismissed it without prejudice. View "Central Utah Water Conservancy Dist. v. King" on Justia Law
Suarez v. Grand County
This appeal concerned a challenge by a group of citizens (Citizens) to an ordinance passed by the Ground County Council (Council) approving amendments concerning a Planned Unit Development district. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Council and the developer. In the district court, Citizens claimed the Council had acted administratively in adopting the ordinance, and accordingly, the matter should be remanded to the county board of adjustments because Citizens weren't allowed to challenge an administrative decision in a district court until they had exhausted their administrative remedies. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Council acted in its legislative capacity in adopting the ordinance because the ordinance created a new law of general applicability passed after the Council weighed policy considerations and because it had the formal nature of a legislative act; and (2) the ordinance should not be set aside because of illegality because, for each of Citizens' claims, the Council complied with applicable zoning ordinances. View "Suarez v. Grand County" on Justia Law
Gillmor v. Family Link, LLC
This dispute centered around two roads owned by the Maceys, their company Family Link, and the remaining defendants (Defendants). Petitioner Nadine Gillmor previously brought suit against the Maceys seeking to interpret and enforce the terms of a settlement agreement purporting to give the Gillmors a limited private easement over one road and limited access over the other road. The court of appeals held that Gillmor had a limited private easement over the roads but that the easement would not pass on to her children from a prior marriage. Gillmor later brought two claims for access over the roads, asserting that the roads were subject to condemnation for a public access easement and that the roads had been continuously used as public thoroughfares for a period of ten years and were thus dedicated to public use as a "highway by use" under Utah Code 72-5-104. The district court dismissed the complaint based on res judicata and imposed sanctions on Gillmor's attorney for filing a claim without a basis in law. The Supreme Court (1) held that Gillmor's claims were not barred by res judiciata; and (2) vacated the imposition of sanctions. Remanded for adjudication of Gillmor's suit on the merits. View "Gillmor v. Family Link, LLC" on Justia Law
B.A.M. v. Salt Lake County
This protracted litigation arose out of a real-property exaction imposed on B.A.M. Development, LLC, as a condition of a construction permit for a fifteen-acre residential housing development. Twice the Supreme Court remanded the case for a new trial. After conducting a third trial, the district court concluded that the County's exaction did not violate the Dolan v. City of Tigard rough proportionality standard. The Supreme Court affirmed the district court in all respects, holding (1) the district court did not err by including in its rough-proportionality analysis costs borne by state government entities; (2) the district court did nor err by limiting the scope of its review to B.A.M.'s thirteen-foot road dedication; and (3) B.A.M.'s remaining arguments were meritless or inadequately briefed. View "B.A.M. v. Salt Lake County" on Justia Law
Utah Dep’t of Transp. v. Admiral Beverage Corp.
The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) condemned real property belonging to Admiral Beverage Corporation, and Admiral was entitled to compensation from the State for the taking of its property. During the condemnation proceedings, Admiral sought to introduce evidence of the fair market value of its property, including evidence of its damages arising from the loss of view and visibility of its remaining property. The district court ruled that evidence of the fair market value of Admiral's property was not admissible under the holding in Ivers v. UDOT. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the part of Ivers that allowed severance damages only for "recognized property rights" was too restrictive to accord the full protection of the Utah Constitution, was inconsistent with both Utah statutes and the Court's prior case law, and was therefore overruled; and (2) Admiral had the right to recover from UDOT for the decrease in the fair market value of its remaining property resulting from the condemnation.