Justia Zoning, Planning & Land Use Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Wisconsin Supreme Court
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Amjad Tufail leased property to Midwest Hospitality pursuant to a lease agreement. The City Board of Zoning Appeals ultimately approved Midwest's application for a special use permit to operate a Church's Chicken fast-food restaurant with a drive-through on the property but placed conditions on the permit. Midwest subsequently notified Tufail that it was no longer responsible for lease payments because Tufail made a false representation to Midwest regarding the terms of the lease. Specifically, Midwest contended that Tufail represented that Midwest may not be prevented from using the property for certain specified purposes. Tufail brought this breach of contract action against Midwest. Midwest counterclaimed for breach of contract, deceptive advertising, and unjust enrichment. The trial court ruled in favor of Tufail. The court of appeals reversed, determining that Midwest's early termination of the lease was justified by Tufail's misrepresentation. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Tufail's representation was not false where (1) the representation did not include any use of the property as a Church's Chicken fast-food restaurant with a drive-through; and (2) the circuit court found Midwest was not prevented from using the property for the uses specified in the lease. Remanded. View "Tufail v. Midwest Hospitality, LLC" on Justia Law

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The circuit court dismissed the inverse condemnation claims of several landowners whose property was close or immediately adjacent to the regional airport. The landowners alleged that an extension of the airports runway by 1500 feet amounted to the compensable taking of an easement because the resulting overflights had adverse effects on their properties. The circuit court acknowledged that the subject properties had been adversely affected but concluded that for a taking to be compensable, the property owner must be deprived of practically all of the beneficial use of the property. The court of appeals reversed, holding that the standard for regulatory takings does not apply to physical occupation cases. At issue on appeal was what standard to apply in airplane overflight cases for determining a taking. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that a taking occurs in airplane overflight cases when government action results in aircraft flying over a landowner's property low enough and with sufficient frequency to have a direct and immediate effect on the use and enjoyment of the property. View "Brenner v. City of New Richmond" on Justia Law

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The Town of Magnolia granted an application for a livestock facility siting permit submitted by Larson Acres, Inc., but imposed several conditions on the permit. The State Livestock Facilities Siting Review Board affirmed with modifications the permit, determining that certain conditions exceeded the Town's legal authority. The circuit court reversed and remanded the cause to the Siting Board, concluding that the Town acted within its lawful authority when it imposed the conditions. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Town impermissibly conditioned the terms of the siting permit without following the guidelines set forth by the legislature. View "Adams v. State" on Justia Law

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The Town of Dell Prairie, in renewing the Class "B" and "Class B" alcohol beverages licenses (hereinafter "license") of Wisconsin Dolls, reduced the described premises of the license from the entire eight acres of Wisconsin Dolls' resort property to only the Main Bar / Entertainment Building of the resort. The circuit court dismissed Wisconsin Dolls' certiorari action challenging the reduction. The court of appeals affirmed on different grounds, holding that the original license was void because it failed to particularly describe the premises to which it applied. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the original license granted to Wisconsin Dolls was not void due to an insufficient description of the premises; and (2) the Town exceeded its authority when it modified the description of the premises in renewing Wisconsin Dolls' alcohol beverages license, as the Town here did not proceed on a correct theory of law in modifying the license. Remanded to the circuit court to order the Town to restore the premises description to Wisconsin Dolls' former and current alcohol beverages licenses. View "Wis. Dolls, LLC v. Town of Dell Prairie" on Justia Law

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The Wisconsin Department of Transportation acquired a parcel of land owned by Country Side, a portion of which Country Side leased to the Lamar Company. Country Side and Lamar agreed that all proceeds would be transferred to Country Side, save for $120,000, of which the parties were unable to agree to a division. Consequently, Lamar filed a claim for petition, seeking the full amount on deposit. Country Side responded by petitioning for the full amount. The circuit court granted Country Side's petition and ordered the $120,000 to be disbursed to Country Side, concluding that Lamar had lost its right to seek a share of the award of damages issued to Country Side and Lamar by failing to join in Country Side's appeal of the award. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Lamar had not lost its right to seek a share of the award of damages issued to Country Side and Lamar, and therefore, the circuit court improperly dismissed Lamar's claim for petition. Remanded. View "Lamar Co., LLC v. Country Side Rest., Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, several residents of the Town of Cooks Valley, brought a declaratory judgment action against the Town to declare the Town's nonmetallic mining ordinance invalid because the ordinance did not have county board approval. The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of Plaintiffs. At issue on appeal was whether the mining ordinance was a zoning ordinance. If the ordinance was not a zoning ordinance, county board approval was not required. The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court, holding that, even though the ordinance at issue had some similarities to traditional zoning ordinances, it was not to be classified as a zoning ordinance. Rather, it was a non-zoning ordinance adopted under the Town's police power. View "Zwiefelhofer v. Town of Cooks Valley" on Justia Law

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Pursuant to its power of eminent domain, the Wisconsin DOT acquired the property of 260 North 12th Street, LLC and Basil Ryan (collectively, Ryan). A jury awarded Ryan $2,001,725 as just compensation. Over Ryan's objection, the jury was presented evidence concerning the environmental contamination of Ryan's property and the cost to remediate it. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) evidence of environmental contamination and of remediation costs are admissible in condemnation proceedings subject to the circuit court's discretion; (2) the circuit court appropriately exercised its discretion when it admitted at trial testimony by the DOT's appraiser over Ryan's objection that the testimony was speculative; (3) the circuit court did not err when it excluded Ryan's expert witness as a result of Ryan's failure to timely disclose the witnesses in accordance with the court's scheduling order; and (4) the circuit court appropriately exercised its discretion when it rejected Ryan's proposed jury instructions in favor of the standard jury instruction on fair market value in the case of a total taking. View "260 North 12th St., LLC v. Dep't of Transp." on Justia Law

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Respondents, Dale and Gudrun Dawson and Edward Thomas, applied to the town boards of Cedarburg and Jackson to vacate part of a jointly owned public highway, which was surrounded by land Respondents owned. At a joint meeting of the town boards, the Jackson board members voted in favor of the application to discontinue the road, but the Cedarburg members voted against it. Respondents sought a declaratory judgment that the joint action of the town board resulted in discontinuance of the road. The circuit court granted summary judgment to Respondents, and the court of appeals affirmed. On review, the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals, holding (1) the approval of both governing bodies is necessary to approve a joint application like the one from Respondents; (2) Respondents should have proceeded under Wis. Stat. 68.13 to seek a determination that Cedarburg's refusal to issue a highway order was not in accordance with law; and (3) the fact that the circuit court should have dismissed Respondents' request for a declaratory judgment as untimely under section 68.13 did not deprive the Supreme Court of jurisdiction to address an issue of law.

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Appellants David, Joyce, and Alan Affeldt objected to the county's removal of trees and fences along their farm property on a county highway. Appellants sought a judgment declaring that the trees and fences were not within the county's four rod right-of-way and enjoining their removal. The circuit court granted the county's motion for summary judgment, finding that appellants failed to set forth sufficient evidence to rebut the presumption under Wis. Stat. 82.31(1) that the county highway was laid out four rods wide. On appeal, the court of appeals affirmed, but on the grounds that it was an undisputed fact that the highway was a recorded, laid out highway and hence had a four rod right-of-way as a matter of law. On review, the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals, holding that appellants set forth sufficient evidence to raise a genuine issue of material fact concerning the width of the county highway and whether the highway was laid out or instead was created by user.

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Plaintiff filed an appeal and complaint against defendant where defendant claimed outstanding special assessments that were due and payable in full upon the sale of plaintiff's property. At issue was whether Wis. Stat. 66.0703(12)(a)'s 90-day appeal period applied where the special assessments were contingent, were levied after construction of the improvements were completed, or in the alternative, were fraudulent. Also at issue was whether Wis. Stat. 893.72 permitted plaintiff's appeal irrespective of the 90-day period of appeal in section 66.0703(12)(a). The court held that the circuit court properly dismissed the action where plaintiff's appeal and complaint were governed by the 90-day period in section 66.0703(12)(a) and that section 893.72 was inapplicable to the case and where it was undisputed that plaintiff filed its notice of appeal and complaint years after the 90-day period had passed.