Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law
by
Tran applied to the Department of Regional Planning for renewal of the conditional use permit (CUP) for his unincorporated Los Angeles County liquor store. Considering the store’s location and site plan, information from the California Department of Alcohol and Beverage Control, a crime report, and letters from the public, the Department recommended approval of the CUP subject to conditions. Tran objected to conditions limiting the hours of alcohol sales to 6:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m., and that distilled spirits not be sold in small containers. The Commission approved the CUP with the recommended small bottle prohibition but permitting alcohol sales from 6:00 a.m.-2:00 a.m. The County Board of Supervisors voted to review the approval. At the close of an August 1, 2017, hearing the Board voted to indicate its "intent to approve” the CUP, restricting alcohol sales to 10:00 a.m-10:00 p.m. and forbidding small bottle sales. About eight months later, the Board adopted the findings and conditions of approval prepared by county counsel and approved the CUP with the modified conditions.Tran unsuccessfully sought a judicial order to set aside the decision as untimely under the County Code, which provides that review decisions “shall be rendered within 30 days of the close of the hearing” The court of appeal vacated the Board’s decision. The 30-day time limit was mandatory, not directory. The Board failed to render its decision within 30 days. View "Tran v. County of Los Angeles" on Justia Law

by
Ramsey Barton sued the City of Valdez after she was severely injured by falling from a tire swing overhanging a cliff in an undeveloped area of a city park. The swing was not built by the City, and Barton alleged the City was negligent in failing to remove it. The superior court assumed on summary judgment that the City had imputed knowledge of the swing, but because there was no evidence the City had a policy to inspect or remove hazards from undeveloped areas of the park, the City was entitled to discretionary function immunity. The court therefore dismissed Barton’s lawsuit against the City. The Alaska Supreme Court reversed, finding that there were "no conceivable policy reasons for declining to remove the unauthorized swing — a human-made hazard that was known, easily accessible, and simple to remove." The Supreme Court found that the failure to remove it was not protected by discretionary function immunity. View "Barton v. City of Valdez" on Justia Law

by
After a sinkhole formed on the leasehold of Jad Khalaf, the Pearl River Valley Water Supply District (District) filed a complaint against Khalaf to recoup the costs of repairing the sinkhole and for other relief. Khalaf moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim, which the chancery court granted. The District appealed, but finding no reversible error, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed dismissal. View "Pearl River Valley Water Supply District v. Khalaf" on Justia Law

by
Two cases were consolidated for the Mississippi Supreme Court's review. In the first appeal, Singing River MOB, LLC (MOB), argued that the leases between itself and Singing River Health System (SRHS) and the lease between Jackson County, Mississippi (County), and SRHS were valid and that the chancery court erred by finding the leases invalid under Mississippi’s “minutes rule.” In the second appeal, Jackson County and SRHS contended the chancery court erred by fashioning its own equitable relief as a result of the first ruling. MOB also raised its own objection as to the manner in which the equitable relief was fashioned. After careful review, the Supreme Court affirmed and remanded the partial summary-judgment order as to the first appeal (No. 2019-IA-01630-SCT); however, the Court reversed and remanded that order as to the second appeal (No. 2019-IA-01653-SCT). View "Singing River MOB, LLC v. Jackson County" on Justia Law

by
Landowner Daniel Banyai appealed an Environmental Division decision upholding a notice of violation, granting a permanent injunction, and assessing $46,600 in fines, relating to alleged zoning violations and the construction of a firearms training facility in the Town of Pawlet. Banyai argued he had a valid permit, certain exhibits were improperly admitted at the merits hearing, and the fines were excessive. Finding no reversible error, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed the Environmental Division's decision. View "Town of Pawlet v. Banyai" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the district court dismissing for lack of subject matter jurisdiction Main St Properties LLC's (MSP) complaint seeking to enjoin a zoning ordinance adopted by the city council for the City of Bellevue, holding that the court erred in dismissing MSP's complaint.After MSP received a notice of zoning violation MSP appealed to the board of adjustment, which upheld the zoning violation. While MSP's appeal was pending, the city council approved an ordinance to rezone MSP's property. MSP then filed a complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief against the City. The district court granted the City's motion to dismiss, concluding that the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction because MSP failed to file a petition in error. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the cause for further proceedings, holding that the complaint was sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss. View "Main St Properties LLC v. City of Bellevue" on Justia Law

by
In consolidated appeals filed by Greenville County, South Carolina, the issue central to the cases involved a zoning dispute between the County and Greenville Bistro, LLC, d/b/a Bucks Racks & Ribs. Greenville Bistro filed suit against the County to enjoin the County from enforcing an ordinance to deny Greenville Bistro's desired method of operating Bucks Racks & Ribs. Citing other ordinances, the County counterclaimed and moved to enjoin Greenville Bistro from operating Bucks as a sexually oriented business. Both appeals concerned the legality of Greenville Bistro operating Bucks as a restaurant with the added feature of scantily clad exotic dancers. The circuit court granted Greenville Bistro's motion for a temporary injunction, and the County appealed. While the County's appeal was pending, another circuit court denied the County's motion for temporary injunctive relief, ruling that in light of the County's appeal it did not have jurisdiction to consider the County's motion. The South Carolina Supreme Court reversed both rulings, dissolved the injunction granted to Greenville Bistro, and held the County was entitled to injunctive relief. The case was remanded to the circuit court for further proceedings. View "Greenville Bistro, LLC. v. Greenville County" on Justia Law

by
A tax-sharing agreement between the County of San Benito and the City of Hollister requires the city to pay the county a fixed fee (Additional Amount) per residential unit constructed on land annexed into the city from the county during the period covered by that agreement. Plaintiff’s predecessor entered into an annexation agreement with the city, agreeing to comply with “all applicable provisions” of that tax sharing agreement. When the plaintiff purchased the annexed land and sought to develop it into subdivisions, the city informed the plaintiff that it was liable for the Additional Amount fees. Plaintiff paid the fees under protest, then sued, seeking a declaration of its rights and duties under various written instruments.The court of appeal affirmed a defense judgment. Plaintiff is contractually liable for the Additional Amount by the terms of the annexation agreement. Any challenge to the calculation of the Additional Amount is beyond the scope of a declaratory relief action and time-barred. The court rejected the plaintiff’s arguments that neither the annexation agreement nor the tax sharing agreement requires the plaintiff to pay the Additional Amount and that the fees violate the Mitigation Fee Act and federal constitutional constraints on development fees as monetary exactions. View "BMC Promise Way, LLC v. County of San Benito" on Justia Law

by
In consolidated appeals, the issue presented for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's review centered on the Commonwealth Court’s holding that, to be held liable for damages under Pennsylvania’s inverse condemnation statute, an entity had to be "clothed with the power of eminent domain" to the property at issue. In 2009, Appellee, UGI Storage Company filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (the “Commission” or “FERC”), seeking a certificate of public convenience and necessity to enable it to acquire and operate certain natural gas facilities. Appellee wished to acquire and operate underground natural gas storage facilities, which the company referred to as the Meeker storage field. Appellee also sought to include within the certificated facilities a 2,980-acre proposed "buffer zone." FERC ultimately granted the application for Appellee to acquire and assume the operation of the Meeker storage field, but denied Appellee’s request to certificate the buffer zone. Appellants petitioned for the appointment of a board of viewers to assess damages for an alleged de facto condemnation of their property, alleging that though their properties had been excluded by FERC from the certificated buffer zone, they interpreted Appellee’s response to the Commission’s order as signaling its intention to apply for additional certifications to obtain property rights relative to the entire buffer zone. The common pleas court initially found that a de facto taking had occurred and appointed a board of viewers to assess damages. Appellee lodged preliminary objections asserting Appellants’ petition was insufficient to support a de facto taking claim. The Supreme Court reversed the Commonwealth Court: "we do not presently discern a constitutional requirement that a quasi-public entity alleged to have invoked governmental power to deprive landowners of the use and enjoyment of their property for a public purpose must be invested with a power of eminent domain in order to be held to account for a de facto condemnation. ... a public or quasi-public entity need not possess a property-specific power of eminent domain in order to implicate inverse condemnation principles." The case was remanded for the Commonwealth Court to address Appellants’ challenge to the common pleas court’s alternative disposition (based upon the landowners’ purported off-the-record waiver of any entitlement to an evidentiary hearing), which had been obviated by the intermediate court’s initial remand decision and that court’s ensuing affirmance of the re-dismissal of Appellants’ petitions. View "Albrecht, et al. v. UGI Storage Co. et al." on Justia Law

by
The People filed suit against Venice Suites for violation of the Los Angeles Municipal Code (LAMC) and for public nuisance, among other causes of action, alleging that Venice Suites illegally operates a hotel or transient occupancy residential structure (TORS).The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's grant of summary adjudication in favor of Venice Suites. As a preliminary matter, the court concluded that the People did not raise the issue of permissive zoning in their briefing but the court exercised its discretion to consider the issue on its merits. On the merits, the court concluded that the LAMC did not prohibit the length of occupancy of an apartment house in an R3 zone. Furthermore, the court concluded that the permissive zoning scheme does not apply to the length of occupancy, and the Rent Stabilization Ordinance and Transient Occupancy Tax Ordinance do not regulate the use of an apartment house. View "People v. Venice Suites, LLC" on Justia Law