Justia Zoning, Planning & Land Use Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Zoning, Planning & Land Use
Noblesville Indiana Board of Zoning Appeals v. FMG Indianapolis, LLC
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court in favor of Reagan Outdoor Advertising in this appeal from the determination that Reagan's billboard had lost its legal nonconforming status, holding that the trial court correctly entered judgment for Reagan.An ordinance of the city of Noblesville bans pole signs, which are signs affixed to poles or other uprights installed in the ground. Reagan, whose billboards the city classifies as pole signs, was allowed signs to remain that pre-dated the ordinance if they were kept in good repair and not relocated. When Reagan repaired damage to one of the billboard's support posts the city issued a stop-work order before Reagan could reattach the sign's display, concluding that Reagan had relocated the sign, which therefore lost its legal nonconforming status. The zoning board of appeals affirmed, but the trial court reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the ordinance's use of the word "relocate" was ambiguous and, consistent with this Court's interpretative canons, must be resolved in Reagan's favor. View "Noblesville Indiana Board of Zoning Appeals v. FMG Indianapolis, LLC" on Justia Law
Pacific Gas and Electric Co. v. Super. Ct.
Petitioner Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) sought extraordinary writ relief for the second time arising out of the parties’ ongoing efforts to clarify the standard of proof to be applied at trial on South San Joaquin Irrigation District’s (the District) right to take part of PG&E’s electric distribution system under the Eminent Domain Law. PG&E emphasized that it did not challenge the validity of the resolution of necessity adopted by the District. PG&E did challenge the District’s right to take its property on grounds that conflicted with various findings the District made in its resolution. Because these challenges were authorized by statute, PG&E could succeed at trial by essentially disproving one of these findings by a preponderance of the evidence. Further, the Court of Appeal agreed with PG&E that the superior court’s September 6, 2017 and November 28, 2022 orders erred in concluding that PG&E also needed to demonstrate the District abused its discretion in adopting its resolution of necessity. Therefore, the Court of Appeal issued a peremptory writ of mandate compelling the superior court to vacate its September 6, 2017 and November 28, 2022 orders, and enter a new order. View "Pacific Gas and Electric Co. v. Super. Ct." on Justia Law
MB Financial Bank, N.A. v. Brophy
In 2005, Joliet filed a complaint seeking to acquire, by eminent domain, a low-income apartment complex that was owned and managed by the plaintiffs. Following almost 12 years of litigation, Joliet acquired fee simple title to the property in 2017. During the litigation, the apartment complex remained in operation; the plaintiffs paid the property taxes without filing any protest. In 2018, the plaintiffs filed a tax objection complaint, seeking the refund of over $6 million in property taxes paid between the date Joliet filed its condemnation complaint and the date it acquired the property. The plaintiffs maintained that “once title to property acquired by condemnation vests with the condemning authority, it vests retroactively to the date of filing the condemnation petition,” so the landowner is entitled to a refund for any taxes paid after the date of filing. The trial court dismissed the complaint. The appellate court held that the plaintiffs were entitled to a refund.The Illinois Supreme Court reversed, overruling the precedent on which the appellate court relied. The legal premises on which that case rested—that a taking occurs at the time a condemnation action is filed and that the valuation of the property is fixed at that point—no longer exists. The court rejected an argument that the act of filing a condemnation complaint burdened the property and it would be unfair to require the plaintiffs to pay the property taxes that accrued during the condemnation proceeding. View "MB Financial Bank, N.A. v. Brophy" on Justia Law
Yerba Buena Neighborhood Consortium, LLC v. Regents of the University of California
UCSF's 107-acre Parnassus Heights campus currently accommodates two hospitals, various medical clinics, four professional schools, a graduate program, and space for research, student housing, parking, and other support uses. In 2014, UCSF prepared a long-range development plan for its multiple sites around San Francisco, to accommodate most of UCSF’s growth at the Mission Bay campus. There were concerns that the Parnassus campus was overwhelming its neighborhood. In 2020, UCSF undertook a new plan for the Parnassus campus with multiple new buildings and infrastructure resulting in a 50 percent net increase in building space over 30 years.An environmental impact report (EIR) was prepared for the Plan's initial phase (California Environmental Quality Act, Pub. Resources Code 21000, identifying as significant, unavoidable adverse impacts: wind hazards, increased air pollutants, the demolition of historically significant structures, and increased ambient noise levels during construction.The court of appeal affirmed the rejection of challenges to the EIR. The EIR considers a reasonable range of alternatives and need not consider in detail an alternative that placed some anticipated development off campus. The EIR improperly declines to analyze the impact on public transit, but the error is not prejudicial. The aesthetic effects of an “employment center project on an infill site within a transit priority area” are deemed not significant. The EIR is not required to adopt a mitigation measure preserving certain historically significant buildings and its mitigation measure for wind impacts is adequate. View "Yerba Buena Neighborhood Consortium, LLC v. Regents of the University of California" on Justia Law
Whitefish 57 Commercial, LLC v. City of Whitefish
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of the City of Whitefish and affirming the Whitefish City Council's decisions to deny a conditional use permit (CUP) and grant Resolution 21-43, which denied the permit, holding that there was no error in the proceedings below.Whitefish 57 Commercial, LLC and Rimrock Companies, LLC (collectively, Appellants) applied for a CUP to develop a hotel on a lot of their subdivision. After a public hearing on the development project the Council adopted Resolution 21-43 that denied the permit. Appellants appealed, claiming that the Council abused its discretion in denying their CUP. The district court granted summary judgment against Appellants. View "Whitefish 57 Commercial, LLC v. City of Whitefish" on Justia Law
Wise Business Forms, Inc. v. Forsyth County, et al.
Wise Business Forms, Inc. (“Wise”) was the nation’s fourth largest printer of business forms, and was headquartered in Forsyth County, Georgia. A 36-inch metal pipe (“Subject Pipe”) ran underneath Wise’s property and had been in place since 1985. Approximately twenty-five feet of the drainage pipe extended into a two-acre tract of land west of Wise’s property (“Corner Tract”). The Corner Tract was undeveloped and forms a natural detention basin into which a large vertical concrete drainage structure with a large stormwater outlet pipe (“Feeder Structure”) was constructed. Wise asserted in its complaint that water from the Feeder Structure on the Corner Tract was designed to flow through the Subject Pipe underneath Wise’s property. The McFarland Parkway Widening Project extended McFarland Road from two lanes to four lanes and was completed in 2000. Wise alleged in its complaint that this project resulted in a substantial increase of the surface and stormwater runoff flowing underneath its property. In 2020, Wise filed a complaint against Forsyth County and the Georgia Department of Transportation (the “DOT”) raising claims for per se taking of Wise’s property, inverse condemnation by permanent nuisance, attorney fees. Wise amended its complaint to add a claim for inverse condemnation by abatable nuisance. The Georgia Supreme Court granted certiorari in this case to clarify the standards for determining when a claim for inverse condemnation by permanent nuisance accrues for purposes of applying the four-year statute of limitation set forth in OCGA § 9-3-30 (a). The Court concluded that, although the Court of Appeals articulated one of the correct standards to apply in determining when the applicable statute of limitation begins to run on a permanent nuisance claim, the Court of Appeals failed to construe the allegations of the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff as the non-moving party; erred in concluding there was only one harm in this case that was “immediately observable” to the plaintiff when the nuisance at issue was completed; and erred in concluding that the statute of limitation had run on the plaintiff’s claim as a matter of law. View "Wise Business Forms, Inc. v. Forsyth County, et al." on Justia Law
Deer Creek Water Corporation, et al. v. City of Oklahoma City, et al.
Plaintiff Deer Creek Water Corporation filed suit against Oklahoma City and Oklahoma City Water Utilities Trust (together, the City) seeking a declaratory judgment that the City could not provide water service to a proposed development on land owned by Thomas and Gina Boling (together, the developers), who later intervened in the action. In support, Deer Creek invoked 7 U.S.C. § 1926(b), a statute that generally prohibited municipalities from encroaching on areas served by federally indebted rural water associations, so long as the rural water association made water service available to the area. The district court granted the developers’ motion for summary judgment after concluding that Deer Creek had not made such service available, and Deer Creek appealed. Although the Tenth Circuit rejected Deer Creek’s arguments related to subject-matter jurisdiction, the Court agreed that the district court erred in finding it dispositive that Deer Creek’s terms of service required the developers to construct the improvements necessary to expand Deer Creek’s existing infrastructure to serve the proposed development, reasoning that because Deer Creek itself would not be doing the construction, it had not made service available. The Court found nothing in the statute or in caselaw to support stripping a federally indebted rural water association of § 1926(b) protection solely because it placed a burden of property development on the landowner seeking to develop property. The district court therefore erred in placing determinative weight on Deer Creek’s requirement that the developers construct the needed improvements. The judgment was reversed and the case remanded for further proceedings on whether Deer Creek made service available. View "Deer Creek Water Corporation, et al. v. City of Oklahoma City, et al." on Justia Law
Bracken v. City of Ketchum
This appeal was about whether an aggrieved applicant could bring a direct action against a city, its administrators, and its mayor for alleged misconduct pertaining to the granting of a conditional use permit without first exhausting administrative remedies and seeking judicial review. The answer is almost always “no,” but based on the unique facts in this case the Idaho Supreme Court held that the applicant was excused from exhausting administrative remedies. View "Bracken v. City of Ketchum" on Justia Law
Knezovich, et al. v. United States
Victims of the 2018 Roosevelt Fire in Wyoming sued the United States Forest Service, alleging it negligently delayed its suppression response. The Forest Service moved to dismiss the complaint on the grounds that it was not liable for the way it handled the response to the fire. Under the Federal Tort Claims Act, a government actor could not be sued for conducting a so-called “discretionary function,” where the official must employ an element of judgment or choice in responding to a situation. The government contended that responding to a wildfire required judgment or choice, and its decisions in fighting the fire at issue here met the discretionary function exception to the Act. The district court agreed and dismissed the suit. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals also concluded the Forest Service was entitled to the discretionary function exception to suit, and the district court lacked jurisdiction to hear the complaint. View "Knezovich, et al. v. United States" on Justia Law
Catholic Healthcare International Inc. v. Genoa Charter Township, Michigan
Fillmore County Park in Genoa Charter Township, Michigan, includes a 15-station “Leopold the Lion Reading Trail” with large signs, telling the story. On a wooded 40-acre property a few miles away, Catholic Healthcare created a prayer trail with 14 “Stations of the Cross.” None of the improvements were visible from outside the property. The Township treated the prayer trail as a church building, for which a “special land use” permit was required. At considerable expense, Catholic Healthcare submitted two unsuccessful applications. The Township demanded the removal of the Stations of the Cross, plus a stone altar and mural.Catholic Healthcare sought a preliminary injunction to restore the Stations of the Cross, altar, and mural. The district court twice denied that request, holding that its free-exercise and statutory claims are unripe. The Sixth Circuit reversed. In land-use cases, claims are ripe when the government has adopted a “definitive position” as to “how the regulations at issue apply to the particular land in question.” Here, the Township has uniformly insisted that Catholic Healthcare obtain a special land-use permit and has twice refused to grant a permit. Those events have “inflicted an actual, concrete injury” because the Township has actually forced them to remove the religious displays. Catholic Healthcare is likely to succeed on the merits of its claim under 42 U.S.C. 2000cc(a)(1), the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. View "Catholic Healthcare International Inc. v. Genoa Charter Township, Michigan" on Justia Law