Justia Zoning, Planning & Land Use Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Zoning, Planning & Land Use
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Plaintiffs own 375 Slane Chapel Road, LLC (“375”), a limited liability company that owns and operates a substantial vacation home adjacent to Table Rock Lake in Stone County, Missouri. When Plaintiffs' personal use of the home declined, 375 applied in October 2020 for a conditional use permit (“CUP”) to rent out the property to short-term renters on platforms such as Airbnb. The Board of Adjustment voted 3-0 to reverse the Planning & Zoning Commission’s decision and deny 375 a CUP. 375 filed separate actions in state and federal court to overturn the Board of Adjustment’s decision. Defendants promptly moved to dismiss this lawsuit, arguing, as relevant here, that 375’s federal claims are “barred by the Younger abstention doctrine.” Invoking Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971), the district court granted the motion.   The Eighth Circuit reversed, concluding that the district court misinterpreted the “exceptional circumstances” warranting Younger abstention. The court explained that the district court’s definition of Category 3 shares the flaw in relying exclusively on the Middlesex factors identified by the Supreme Court in Sprint -- it “would extend Younger to virtually all parallel state and federal proceedings . . . where a party could identify a plausibly important state interest.” The two cases cited by NOPSI as examples of Category 3 make clear that its focus is institutional -- “the state courts’ ability to perform their judicial functions” -- not simply the State’s interest in enforcing a particular court order. Therefore the district court erred in abstaining under Younger. View "375 Slane Chapel Road, LLC v. Stone County, Missouri" on Justia Law

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This appeal centered whether Section 6 of the California Constitution required the state to reimburse the defendant local governments (collectively permittees or copermittees) for costs they incurred to satisfy conditions which the state imposed on their stormwater discharge permit. Defendant-respondent Commission on State Mandates (the Commission) determined that six of the eight permit conditions challenged in this action were reimbursable state mandates. They required permittees to provide a new program. Permittees also did not have sufficient legal authority to levy a fee for those conditions because doing so required preapproval by the voters. The Commission also determined that the other two conditions requiring the development and implementation of environmental mitigation plans for certain new development were not reimbursable state mandates. Permittees had authority to levy a fee for those conditions. On petitions for writ of administrative mandate, the trial court upheld the Commission’s decision in its entirety and denied the petitions. Plaintiffs, cross-defendants and appellants State Department of Finance, the State Water Resources Board, and the Regional Water Quality Board, San Diego Region (collectively the State) appealed, contending the six permit conditions found to be reimbursable state mandates were not mandates because the permit did not require permittees to provide a new program and permittees had authority to levy fees for those conditions without obtaining voter approval. Except to hold that the street sweeping condition was not a reimburseable mandate, the Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's judgment. View "Dept. of Finance v. Commission on State Mandates" on Justia Law

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Appellants Bull Field, LLC, Barley, LLC and Colburn Hills Ranch, LLC (Appellants) appeal from a judgment denying their petition for a writ of mandate (Petition). Appellants sought an order compelling respondent Merced Irrigation District (District) to sell them surplus surface water for the 2019 water year. Appellants’ farmland is outside the District, but within the same groundwater basin as the District’s service area. The District authorized the sale of surplus water to out-of-district users for 2019 but denied Appellants’ application to purchase such water. The District claimed, and the trial court found, that the District’s general manager denied Appellants’ applications to purchase surplus surface water because the District had a history of difficult dealings with Appellants’ manager. Substantial evidence supports that finding.   The Second Appellate District affirmed, finding that District acted within its discretion in making its decision on this ground. The court explained that the court may not interfere with the District’s discretionary decision that denying Appellants’ applications to purchase surplus water was in its best interest. The court may not substitute its judgment for the District about how its interests would best be served. So long as the District actually exercised such discretion, this court may not issue a writ contravening the District’s decision. View "Bull Field, LLC v. Merced Irrigation Dist." on Justia Law

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In 2010, Pacific Grove authorized “transient use of residential property for remuneration,” subject to licensing. One-year “STR” Licenses were subject to revocation for cause. In 2016, the city capped the number of short-term rental licenses citywide at 250 and established a density cap of “15 [percent] per block.” In 2017, the city prohibited more than one license per parcel and required a 55-foot buffer zone between licensed properties. The changes provided that a license could be withdrawn, suspended, or revoked for any reason and that renewal was not guaranteed. The city resolved to “sunset” certain licenses using a random lottery. In 2018, Pacific Grove voters approved Measure M, to prohibit and phase out, over an 18-month sunset period, all existing short-term rentals in residential districts, except in the “Coastal Zone,” as defined by the California Coastal Act. Measure M did not restrict short-term rentals in nonresidential districts or otherwise modify existing rules.The court of appeal affirmed the dismissal of a suit by licensees. The Plaintiffs’ economic interest in renting their homes for transient visitors was not an entitlement subject to state or federal constitutional protection. The curtailment of short-term rental licenses is related to legitimate state interests. View "Hobbs v. City of Pacific Grove" on Justia Law

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The Adorers, an order of nuns whose religious beliefs require them “to protect and preserve Earth,” own property in Pennsylvania. When Transco notified them that it was designing a 42-inch diameter interstate gas pipeline to cross their property, the Adorers explained that they would not sell a right-of-way through their property. Transco sought a certificate of public convenience and necessity. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) published notices and hosted open meetings to discuss the pipeline. The Adorers neither provided comments nor attended meetings. When FERC contacted the Adorers directly, they remained silent. Transco altered the pipeline’s route 132 times in response to public comment. FERC issued the requested certificate, which authorized Transco to use eminent domain to take rights-of-way 15 U.S.C. 717f(c)(1)(A). Transco sought an order of condemnation to take rights-of-way in the Adorers’ property. The Adorers failed to respond to the complaint.Days after the district court granted Transco default judgment, the Adorers sought an injunction under the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act (RFRA) 42 U.S.C. 2000bb-1(c). The Third Circuit rejected the Adorers’ contention that RFRA permitted them to assert their claim in federal court rather than before FERC. After the pipeline was put into service, the Adorers sought damages under RFRA. The Third Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the suit. To permit a party to reserve a claim, the success of which would imperil a FERC decision to certify an interstate pipeline, by remaining silent during the FERC proceedings and raising the claim in separate litigation would contravene the Natural Gas Act’s exclusive review framework. View "Adorers of the Blood of Christ United States Province v. Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Co., LLC" on Justia Law

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Long Beach Harbor Resort, LLC (the Resort), leased a parcel of land located on the Public Trust Tidelands from the City of Long Beach. The issue this case presented for the Mississippi Supreme Court to determine was whether the Resort was required to enter into a separate lease with the Secretary of State for the use of the tidelands property or whether the Resort already had a valid lease allowing use of the tidelands in question. The Supreme Court found that the State of Mississippi had, through its Boundary Agreement and Tidelands Lease with the City of Long Beach, ratified the prior lease entered into between the City and the Resort. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the chancery court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the Resort and found that the Resort had a valid tidelands lease as ratified by the Secretary of State. View "Mississippi v. Long Beach Harbor Resort, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied Petitioner's petition seeking a writ of prohibition to halt an ongoing appropriation case in the Mahoning County Court of Common Pleas, holding that Petitioner failed to establish that he was entitled to a writ of prohibition.In the appropriation case, the Mill Creek Metropolitan Park District sought to take Petitioner's property so it could build a biking trail. During the pendency of the case, the General Assembly passed a law stating that a park district in Mahoning County may not use its power of eminent domain to build a recreational trail. Arguing that the new law divested the Mahoning County court of jurisdiction, Petitioner brought suit asking for a writ of prohibition halting the appropriation proceeding. The Supreme Court denied the writ, holding (1) the anti-appropriation provision did not patently and unambiguously eliminate the Mahoning County Common Pleas Court's subject matter jurisdiction; and (2) because Petitioner had an adequate remedy by way of an appeal and the trial court did not patently lack jurisdiction, Petitioner was not entitled to a writ of prohibition. View "Schlegel v. Sweeney" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court affirming the decision of the Hanson County Drainage Board granting a drainage permit sought by James Paulson to clean out a pre-existing ditch, holding that Appellants were not entitled to relief on their allegations of error.On appeal, Appellants argued that the Board failed to follow the relevant approval procedures and that the Board abused its discretion by approving the drainage permit. The circuit court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Board complied with the proper procedures for approving the permit; (2) the circuit court did not err in denying Appellants' request to present additional testimony; and (3) the circuit court did not err by denying Appellants' request to take judicial notice of an earlier proceeding. View "Little v. Hanson County Drainage Board" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal brought by the City of Martinsburg of the judgment of the circuit court entering an injunction halting the City's efforts to regulate the County's excavation and construction of a parking lot on a parcel of property owned by the Berekley County Council (the County) but located within the City's boundaries, holding that the appeal was moot.In appealing the injunction, the City sought to compel the County to comply with a municipal stormwater ordinance in the parking lot's excavation and construction. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that where the excavation and construction the City sought to regulate had been completed by the County and where the City's briefing failed to address novel questions of law with a potential to arise again in the future properly and clearly, this appeal is moot. View "City of Martinsburg v. County Council of Berkeley County" on Justia Law

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The City of Helena ("Helena") appealed the issuance of a preliminary injunction by the Shelby Circuit Court in favor of the Pelham Board of Education ("the Board") and its officers and/or members, in their official capacities (collectively, "the Board defendants"). In June 2021, the Board purchased approximately 52 acres of undeveloped land located within the corporate limits of Helena. The land has not been annexed by the City of Pelham or the Board. Helena collects property taxes on the land, and the land was zoned for single-family residential use under a Helena zoning ordinance. After purchasing the land, the Board began clearing the land for the purpose of constructing one or more athletic fields and a parking lot as part of the Pelham High School campus. Pelham High School was located adjacent to the land but lied within the corporate limits of the City of Pelham. The athletic-field project was originally scheduled to be completed on or before January 17, 2022, but it was delayed by Helena's attempts to enforce its zoning ordinance, which was an issue in this case. Helena asserted in its complaint, among other things, that the Board has no statutory authority to construct the athletic-field project within the corporate limits of Helena. The Board defendants counterclaimed, seeking sought declaratory and injunctive relief based on their position that the athletic-field project served a governmental purpose and, therefore, was not subject to Helena's zoning ordinance. Finding that the trial court did not follow the mandatory requirements of Rule 65(d)(2), the preliminary injunction was dissolved and the order issuing the injunction was, therefore, reversed and the case remanded. View "City of Helena v. Pelham Board of Education, et al." on Justia Law