Justia Zoning, Planning & Land Use Opinion Summaries

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Pacific Harmony Grove Development, LLC and Mission Valley Corporate Center, Ltd. (Owners) appealed the judgment entered in a condemnation case following the first phase of a bifurcated trial at which the trial court resolved certain legal issues concerning how to value the condemned property. The City of Escondido (City) sought to acquire by condemnation from Owners a 72-foot-wide strip of land (the strip) across a mostly undeveloped 17.72-acre parcel (the Property) to join two disconnected segments of Citracado Parkway. The City argued that the strip should have been valued under the doctrine from City of Porterville v. Young, 195 Cal.App.3d 1260 (1987). Owners argued the Porterville doctrine did not apply, and that the court should have instead applied the “project effect rule.” After a four-day bench trial, the court issued a comprehensive statement of decision ruling in the City’s favor on all issues. Owners appealed, contending the trial court erred by finding the Porterville doctrine applied, the project effect rule did not, and the City was not liable for precondemnation damages. After review, the Court of Appeal concurred with the City’s position and affirmed the judgment. View "City of Escondido v. Pacific Harmony Grove Development" on Justia Law

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In 1899, the Barnard E. Bee chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy erected a monument of a Confederate soldier in a San Antonio Park, also placing a time capsule beneath the statue. In 1932, the Albert Sidney Johnston (ASJ) chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy formed, and that chapter functionally took the place of the Bee chapter when the Bee chapter dissolved in 1972. Over a century after the monument was erected, the City of San Antonio removed both the monument and time capsule. The ASJ chapter filed suit, claiming violations of the First and Fourteenth Amendments.The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the complaint based on lack of standing, agreeing with the district court that the ASJ chapter had no property right in the monument, time capsule, or land at the center of the park. The court rejected ASJ's contention that it possesses an easement or license to use the land. Rather, the land was generally inalienable and unassignable. Furthermore, any permission to use the land was limited. Even assuming arguendo that the 1899 document created an easement or irrevocable license, however, it transferred only to the Bee chapter and terminated with its dissolution in 1972. Therefore, the ASJ chapter's failure to establish a particularized injury undermines both of its claims. View "Albert Sidney Johnston Chapter v. City of San Antonio" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the appellate court concluding that Conn. Gen. Stat. 14-55 was not repealed by a sequence of public acts relating to that statute passed by the legislature in 2003, holding that section 14-55 has been repealed, and therefore, the suitability analysis mandated by the statute is no longer required to obtain a certificate of approval of the location for a used car dealership.The Zoning Board of Appeals of the City of Stamford granted a certificate of approval of the location for a used car dealership run by Defendants. Plaintiff filed an administrative appeal challenging the judgment, arguing that the board had failed to conduct the suitability analysis mandated by section 14-55. The trial court denied the appeal, concluding that the board was required to consider the suitability factors set forth in 14-55 and that the board had given due consideration to the suitability of Defendants' proposed use. The appellate court reversed, deciding that section 14-55 was not repealed in 2003 but that the board issued no findings as to the suitability factors. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that section 14-55 has been repealed. View "One Elmcroft Stamford, LLC v. Zoning Board of Appeals" on Justia Law

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For more than 50 years, the Trust has owned contiguous parcels on Garfield Road, Mentor, Ohio, comprising 16.15 acres near the terminus of Norton Parkway, a road completed in 2006 that connects Garfield Road to Center Street, which connects to I-90 via an interchange completed in 2005. According to the Trust, the interchange “has dramatically changed the character of the area" from rural residential to mixed-use, with industrial, office, commercial, medical, senior living and various residential uses. The Trust sought rezoning from “Single Family R-4” to “Village Green – RVG,” hoping to develop 40 single-family residences with five acres of open space. Without the rezoning, the Trust could develop 13 single-family residences. According to the Trust, its Echo Hill Subdivision plan is materially identical to a plan that the city approved for rezoning in 2017, the “Woodlands.” The Planning Commission recommended denial; the City Council adopted that recommendation. According to the Trust, this is the first time that the city has denied an application for rezoning to RVG since 2004.The Sixth Circuit reinstated certain claims. The Trust’s ownership of 16 acres is a sufficient property interest to support its takings claim. The Trust does not need to plead facts negating every possible explanation for the differential treatment between the Trust’s property and the Woodlands for its class-of-one equal-protection claim to survive a motion for judgment on the pleadings. View "Andrews v. City of Mentor" on Justia Law

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In 2016, Chicago and the Barack Obama Foundation selected Jackson Park as the location for the Obama Presidential Center, to consist of a museum, public library, and other spaces for cultural enrichment and education related to the life and presidency of Barack Obama. The Center will occupy about 20 acres of the park and require that Chicago close several nearby roadways. The National Park Service approved the plan on the condition that Chicago expand nearby spaces for public recreation. The Federal Highway Administration approved the construction of new roadways to make up for the roadways to be closed. Those agencies together performed an environmental assessment and concluded that their decisions would have an insignificant effect on the environment and were the least damaging alternatives available; they did not consider whether Chicago could have further reduced environmental harms by building the Center elsewhere.Objectors sought to enjoin the construction of the Center. The district court denied their request for a preliminary injunction. The Seventh Circuit declined to enjoin construction pending appeal, having previously affirmed summary judgment for the defendants on the constitutional claims. The opponents are unlikely to show that the agencies made a clear error in judgment when weighing the benefits of change against history; the agencies considered the full environmental impact of the Center’s construction. View "Protect Our Parks, Inc. v. Buttigieg" on Justia Law

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The Sacketts purchased a soggy residential lot near Idaho’s Priest Lake in 2004, planning to build a home. Shortly after the Sacketts began placing sand and gravel fill on the lot, they received an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrative compliance order, indicating that the property contained wetlands subject to protection under the Clean Water Act (CWA), 33 U.S.C. 1251(a), and that the Sacketts had to remove the fill and restore the property to its natural state.The Sacketts sued EPA in 2008, challenging the agency’s jurisdiction over their property. During this appeal, EPA withdrew its compliance order. The Ninth Circuit affirmed summary judgment in EPA’s favor. EPA’s withdrawal of the order did not moot the case. EPA’s stated intention not to enforce the order or issue a similar order in the future did not bind the agency. EPA could potentially change positions under new leadership. The court upheld the district court’s refusal to strike from the record a 2008 Memo by an EPA wetlands ecologist, containing observations and photographs from his visit to the property. The court applied the “significant nexus” analysis for determining when wetlands are regulated under the CWA. The record plainly supported EPA’s conclusion that the wetlands on the property were adjacent to a jurisdictional tributary and that, together with a similarly situated wetlands complex, they had a significant nexus to Priest Lake, a traditional navigable water, such that the property was regulable under the CWA. View "Sackett v. United States Environmental Protection Agency" on Justia Law

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The Mundens own ranching property in Bannock County, Idaho. They purchased 768 acres in 2012 and 660 acres in 2014 and purchased title insurance for the first purchase through Stewart and for the second purchase through Chicago Title. The property contains a gravel road. A 2019 ordinance amended a 2006 ordinance that closed specified snowmobile trails, including that gravel road, to motor vehicles except snowmobiles and snow-trail-grooming equipment during winter months. The 2019 ordinance deleted the December-to-April closure, giving the County Public Works Director the discretion to determine when to close specified snowmobile trails, and increased the maximum fine for violations. The Mundens sought an injunction. The county asserted that the road had been listed as a public road on county maps since 1963 and that the Mundens purchased their property expressly subject to easements and rights of way apparent or of record.The Mundens filed a federal complaint, seeking declaratory relief, indemnification, and damages. The district court granted the insurance companies summary judgment. The Ninth Circuit reversed as to Chicago Title, finding that the county road map is a “public record” within the meaning of its policy so that coverage applied. Stewart has no duty to indemnify or defend; its policy disclaims coverage for damages “aris[ing] by reason of . . . [r]ight, title and interest of the public in and to those portions of the above-described premises falling within the bounds of roads or highways.” View "Munden v. Stewart Title Guaranty Co." on Justia Law

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In 2018, faced with the “impending loss of the Raiders to Las Vegas and the Golden State Warriors to San Francisco,” the Legislature sought to facilitate “a new baseball park” at the Howard Terminal site in Oakland. The Project would create many high-wage, highly skilled jobs and present “an unprecedented opportunity to invest in new and improved transit and transportation infrastructure and implement sustainability measures.”Assembly Bill 734 is special legislation applicable solely to the Project. Pursuant to Public Resources Code section 21168.6.7, the baseball park and any nonresidential construction in the Project must achieve LEED gold certification, and residential construction must achieve either LEED gold certification or “the comparable GreenPoint rating, including meeting sustainability standards for access to quality transit.” The project must also achieve greenhouse gas neutrality, reduce by 20 percent the collective vehicle trips, and offer a “comprehensive package of community benefits.” Section 21168.6.7 requires certification by the Governor that the Project meets all those criteria to qualify for expedited administrative and judicial review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Objectors argued that the Governor’s authority to certify the project expired on January 1, 2020. The trial court and court of appeal upheld the Governor’s ongoing certification authority. On February 11, 2021, the Governor certified the Howard Terminal Project for expedited CEQA review. View "Pacific Merchant Shipping Association v. Newsom" on Justia Law

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In 2008, Zito purchased a beachfront house and lot on Nags Head (a barrier island). In 2016, the house burned down. The lot is governed by North Carolina’s Coastal Area Management Act (CAMA): buildings with less than 5,000 square feet must be set back at least 60 feet or 30 times the local rate of erosion, whichever is farther, from the vegetation line. Buildings of less than 2,000 square feet built before June 1979 fall under a grandfather provision, requiring a setback of only 60 feet from the vegetation line. The Zito property qualifies for the grandfather provision but is set back only 12 feet from the vegetation line. In 2018, the coastline by the property eroded at an average rate of six feet per year. Experts indicate that coastal erosion and rising sea levels could cause the property to be underwater by 2024. The permit officer denied Zito’s application to rebuild The Coastal Resources Commission denied a variance, informing Zito of the right to appeal in state superior court.Zito filed suit in federal court, arguing that CAMA’s restrictions amounted to an unconstitutional taking. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the suit. The Commission qualifies as an arm of the state subject to the protection of sovereign immunity; the Eleventh Amendment bars Fifth Amendment taking claims against states in federal court where the state’s courts remain open to adjudicate such claims. View "Zito v. North Carolina Coastal Resources Commission" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case are the terms of a recorded easement that runs with two beachfront lots in Walton County, Florida. After the County enacted an ordinance purporting to establish the public's right to use the dry-sand area of all beaches for recreational purposes, two beachfront property owners filed suit alleging that the ordinance triggered the easement's abandonment clause.The Eleventh Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the County, holding that the ordinance triggered the abandonment clause and that no other source of law—Florida common law, separate provisions in the easement, a Walton County resolution, or a consent judgment—forestalls or limits the abandonment clause's operation. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "A Flock of Seagirls LLC v. Walton County Florida" on Justia Law