Justia Zoning, Planning & Land Use Opinion Summaries

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In 1999, the Taylors purchased land near a New Mexico Air Force base to raise calves. The Air Force began flying training missions over the land, sometimes “no more than 20 feet . . . off the deck.” In 2008, the Taylors granted Wind Energy an exclusive five-year option for an easement on the Taylors’ property, for “wind resource evaluation, wind energy development, energy transmission and related wind energy development uses.” In 2012, Air Force employees suggested to Wind Energy that the FAA would not issue a “No Hazard” designation for the air space above the Taylors’ land, which would be “fatal to the construction of planned wind turbines.” Wind Energy exercised its contractual right to terminate the agreement. The Taylors sued, claiming that the Air Force’s informal advice to Wind Energy caused a regulatory taking of their property interest in their contract and that the flyovers effected a physical taking. The Federal Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the complaint. Wind Energy’s termination was not a breach of the agreement so the Taylors had no property right in the continuation of that agreement nor did they have any investment-backed expectations. Any advice given by Air Force employees did not amount to an FAA denial. The Taylors did not provide factual allegations of how the flights “directly, immediately, and substantially interfere” with their quiet enjoyment and use of the land View "Taylor v. United States" on Justia Law

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Harbourside filed suit against the town, moving for a pre-enforcement preliminary injunction against Ordinance 1-16. The ordinance, among other things, established a two-tiered scheme for the use of amplified sound at non-residential properties and contains a separate section relating to outdoor live musical performances. The district court denied injunctive relief. The Eleventh Circuit applied limited review, without definitively addressing the merits, and affirmed the district court's judgment. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in ruling that Harbourside failed to establish a likelihood of success on its claims that it qualifies as an outdoor venue and that the challenged sections of the Jupiter Code are content-based. View "Harbourside Place, LLC v. Town of Jupiter" on Justia Law

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This case concerns the management of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (Delta). In 2009, the California Legislature found and declared the “Delta watershed and California’s water infrastructure are in crisis and existing Delta policies are not sustainable,” and that “[r]esolving the crisis requires fundamental reorganization of the state’s management of Delta watershed resources.” It enacted the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Reform Act of 2009. As part of the Act, the Legislature created the Delta Stewardship Council (Council) as an independent agency of the state and charged it with adopting and implementing a legally enforceable “Delta Plan,” a comprehensive, long-term management plan. Following the preparation of a program-level environmental impact report (PEIR) pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the Council adopted the Delta Plan in May 2013, which included a set of recommendations and regulatory policies to achieve the Plan's goals. Thereafter, seven lawsuits were filed by various groups challenging the validity of the Delta Plan, the Delta Plan regulations, and the PEIR for the Delta Plan. After the lawsuits were coordinated into one proceeding, the trial court issued written rulings in May and July 2016 collectively rejecting the legal challenges predicated on violations of the Delta Reform Act and the APA, with a few exceptions. In April 2018, while appeals were pending, the Council adopted amendments and certified the PEIR for the Delta Plan Amendments. In the "merits" case, the issue before the Court of Appeal was the validity of the trial court’s rulings on legal challenges to the Delta Plan and Delta Plan regulations. In the "fee" case, the issue presented was the validity of the trial court’s attorney fee order. The Court agreed with the Council that the trial court erred in finding that it violated the Act by failing to adopt performance measure targets to achieve certain objectives of the Act. The Court also agreed with the Council that the remaining issues raised in its appeal regarding the statutory violations found by the trial court were mooted by the adoption of the Delta Plan Amendments. The Court found no error in the fee award. In light of the mootness determination, the Court reversed and remanded judgments entered in the four cases appealed by the Council in the "merits" case with directions the superior court dismiss the portions that were moot. In all other respects, the Court affirmed judgment entered in each of the six coordinated cases in the merits case. View "Delta Stewardship Council Cases" on Justia Law

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The Sacramento City Council acted in a quasi-judicial capacity as adjudicators after an eight-to-three vote by the Sacramento Planning and Design Commission granting a conditional use permit for a gas station in the shopping center zone of a local residential development. The real parties in interest appealed the decision to the City Council. In such matters, council members must be neutral and unbiased. The developers sued, claiming that one City Council member was neither, and entered deliberations on the issue with his mind already made up. The trial court agreed and, upon review of the record, so did the Court of Appeal. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the order granting the petition for writ of mandate and ordering the city to rescind the decision on the appeal, and to hold a new hearing on the appeal at which the councilmember would be recused from participating. View "Petrovich Development Co., LLC v. City of Sacramento" on Justia Law

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In previous proceedings, the Alaska Supreme Court vacated a superior court award entered in favor of Alaska Laser Wash, Inc. against the State, and remanded for reconsideration of prevailing party status, fees and costs. On remand the superior court determined that the State was the prevailing party and awarded the State attorney’s fees. Alaska Laser Wash appealed, arguing that it should have been awarded attorney’s fees under Alaska Civil Rule 72(k), which applied to eminent domain proceedings. After review, the Supreme Court affirmed the superior court’s ruling, concluding that when a landowner fails to establish a taking in an inverse condemnation case, attorney’s fees are awarded under Alaska Civil Rule 82, generally governing attorney’s fees, or Alaska Civil Rule 68, if there has been an offer of judgment, but not under the eminent domain rules. View "Alaska Laser Wash, Inc., v. Alaska Dept. of Trans. & Public Facilities" on Justia Law

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Appellant Heather Robinson Tanaka’s great-grandfather purchased a subdivided parcel that had been part of a larger riparian tract but was no longer contiguous to water. Riparian rights can persist in land sold under such circumstances, though the grantee cannot acquire riparian rights any greater than those held by the grantor. The question presented for the Court of Appeal's review was whether the parties intended the grantee to receive riparian rights in such a transfer. "The clearest expression of intent is when a deed expressly conveys the riparian rights to the noncontiguous parcel, in which case the parcel retains its riparian status. However, where the deed is ambiguous, extrinsic evidence is admissible on the question." Here, the trial court, after considering the language of the deed at issue and extrinsic evidence, concluded the conveyance to Tanaka’s great-grandfather did not convey riparian rights. As a consequence, Tanaka had no rights to divert water from Middle River onto her small, approximately 106-acre parcel that has been used for farmland for 130 years. The Court of Appeal disagreed with the trial court’s conclusion and reversed. View "Modesto Irrigation Dist. v. Tanaka" on Justia Law

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Matthew Wiggins appealed a decision of a special court of eminent domain to the County Court of Hinds County, Mississippi, approving the City of Clinton’s exercise of eminent domain. Wiggins bought property in March of 2016. At the time, the structures located there were dilapidated and were in need of extensive structural repairs. Soon after Wiggins took possession of the properties, Clinton found that the properties should be demolished due to neglect. Clinton assessed 1,434 separate code violations to property Wiggins owned. Wiggins pleaded guilty to the violations on January 26, 2017. Clinton then found additional violations against Wiggins at those properties and at other properties he owned in Clinton. Wiggins was found guilty of two violations by the County Court of Hinds County in 2018. The remaining violations were dismissed. In June 2018, Clinton adopted an urban-renewal plan. Wiggins' parcel was within the renewal area, and sought to take it. The special court found Clinton’s exercise of eminent domain proper. After review, the Mississippi Supreme Court found sufficient evidence in the special court record to support the taking my eminent domain. Similarly, the Court determined the record offered no evidence to demonstrate the determination of the special court was manifestly wrong. Therefore, judgment was affirmed. View "Wiggins. v. City of Clinton" on Justia Law

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Alton Johnson appealed a judgment denying his variance application. In the 1970s Johnson purchased land in Burlington, ND, and in 1973, opened an auto body shop. The auto body shop was zoned as a C-1 residential sometime after the shop was built. In 1989, a fire damaged the building. After building repairs in 1991, Johnson leased part of the property. Johnson began to use another location for his auto body business. In 2012, Johnson sold his business at the second location. Property owners neighboring the property raised concerns about the use of the property. In May 2013, the city attorney issued an opinion regarding the body shop, stating it “was a non-conforming use when the zoning ordinance was initially passed, so it was essentially ‘grandfathered in’” and when the auto body shop’s use was discontinued, and the current renters went into the building, the auto body shop was no longer “grandfathered in” and would need approval by the planning commission. Johnson operated the auto body shop at the location of the property at issue subsequent to the sale of the second location. In October 2013, Johnson moved for a temporary injunction and ex parte restraining order to allow him to continue to use his auto body shop, which was granted by the district court. In October 2016, Johnson requested a variance from the City. When it was denied, he appealed, arguing the City’s findings were arbitrary, capricious, unreasonable, and not supported by substantial evidence. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded after review it was not arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable for the City to deny Johnson’s variance application and there was substantial evidence to support the City’s decision. Accordingly, the Court affirmed judgment. View "Johnson v. City of Burlington" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-appellee Natural Gas Pipeline Company of America LLC (NGPL) operated two interstate natural gas pipelines that crossed property owned by Defendant-appellant Foster OK Resources LP (Foster). NGPL brought a condemnation action seeking four separate easements to have consistent access to operate and maintain the pipelines and to clear title issues involving the pipelines. Foster challenged NGPL's exercise of eminent domain and whether NGPL's taking met the legal standard of necessity. After review, the Oklahoma Supreme Court held NGPL could not contract away its right of eminent domain and was not prevented from seeking the easements at issue to operate and maintain the pipelines. NGPL's condemnation of Foster's property was for public use and met the legal standard of necessity. Furthermore, the Court held the issue of the necessity of a survey in computing just compensation owed to Foster was premature and could not be determined at this time. View "Natural Gas Pipeline Co. v. Foster OK Resources, LP" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the circuit court denying Karen Dunham's petition for writ of certiorari challenging the decision of the Lake County Board of Adjustment (Board) approving Hodne Homes, LLC's requests for a variance and conditional use permit (CUP), holding that the Board exceeded its authority in granting the variance but did not exceed its legal authority when it approved the CUP. Hodne Homes purchased a Lake County lot to build a facility to store and display boats. Hodne Homes sought the variance and CUP because the proposed facility exceeded the size and setback restrictions for the lot under the Lake County Zoning Ordinance. Dunham, an adjoining landowner, objected, but the Board granted both requests. The court of appeals denied Dunham's petition for writ of certiorari challenging the Board's decision. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) the Board exceeded its legal authority under the ordinance when it approved the variance; and (2) the Board did not exceed its authority under the ordinance when it approved the CUP, the Board's decision did not violate Dunham's due process rights, and the Board committed no procedural errors in its approval of the CUP. View "Dunham v. Lake County Commission" on Justia Law