Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law
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In 2017, Appellant Shoshone County assessed properties owned by Respondents S&W OPS, LLC; POWDER, LLC; H2O, LLC; GOLF, LLC; APARTMENT, LLC; F&B, LLC; and VILLAGE MANAGEMENT, LLC (collectively “Taxpayers”). Taxpayers disputed the valuation and sought review by the Board of Equalization, and subsequently the Board of Tax Appeals (“BTA”). The BTA reduced the assessed value, and the County appealed to the district court. After a four-day bench trial, the district court upheld the BTA decision, determining that the County’s appraisal evidence was more credible than Taxpayers’ evidence; however, the district court ultimately held the County had not satisfied its burden of showing how the BTA decision was erroneous by a preponderance of the evidence. The County appealed to the Idaho Supreme Court, arguing that the district court applied the wrong standard of review by requiring the County to prove “how or why” the BTA decision was erroneous instead of simply concluding that the market value of the property was different than what was found by the BTA. After review, the Supreme Court agreed with the County’s position. The district court’s decision was reversed, the judgment was vacated, and the case was remanded with instructions for the district court to consider whether the BTA’s decision on valuation was erroneous given the evidence submitted during the de novo trial. If that decision on valuation was erroneous, the district court, as the fact-finder, had to set the valuation. View "Shoshone County v. S&W OPS, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing orders of the circuit court dismissing challenges brought by the Friends of the Black River Forest and Claudia Bricks (collectively, the Friends) to a land exchange between J. Kohler Company and the Department of Natural Resources, holding that Friends lacked standing to challenge the land transfer decision.Friends filed an action challenging the Board's decision approving an agreement between the Department and Kohler for the land exchange. The circuit court granted Kohler's motion to dismiss, concluding that Friends lacked standing because the alleged injuries did not flow directly from the land swap decision. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that Friends alleged sufficient injuries to satisfy standing under Wis. Stat. 227.52 and 227.53. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that none of the statutes or regulations cited by Friends protected any legally protected, recognized, or regulated interests of Friends that would permit them to challenge the Board's decision as aggrieved persons. View "Friends of the Black River Forest v. Wis. Department of Natural Resources" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of the superior court affirming the decision of the Town of Boothbay Harbor's Board of Appeals (BOA) denying 29 McKown, LLC's administrative appeal from a code enforcement officer's (CEO) decision to life a stop work order he had issued to Harbor Crossing during the construction of the building, holding that 29 McKown was deprived of administrative due process.In this case concerning a real estate office building constructed by Harbor Crossing in Boothbay Harbor, 29 McKown sought review of the denial of its McKown's appeal. The superior court affirmed the BOA's decision. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the order below, holding (1) 29 McKown was deprived of administrative due process; and (2) the CEO did not issue a judicially-reviewable decision in lifting the stop work order. View "29 McKown LLC v. Town of Boothbay Harbor" on Justia Law

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James Township, Michigan filed a nuisance action against Daniel Rice , alleging Rice violated the township’s blight ordinance as well as the Michigan Residential Code by having junk cars, unpermitted construction, and fences of an improper height on his property. Rice moved to dismiss the portions of the citation related to the improper height of his fence and the unpermitted construction, arguing that, under the Right to Farm Act (RTFA), the township was prohibited from enforcing against farms or farm operations local ordinances governing those structures. The township opposed the motion, arguing that the property was not protected by the RTFA because it had not previously been used for farming. Following a hearing, the district court, found that Rice’s use of the property constituted a “farm” or “farm operation” for purposes of the RTFA and that the RTFA was an affirmative defense to those portions of the civil citation. The district court dismissed the specified portions of the citation and denied the parties’ individual requests for costs and fees. Rice moved for reconsideration, arguing that, under MCL 286.473b, he was entitled to costs and expenses, as well as reasonable and actual attorney fees; the district court denied the motion. The district court later dismissed the remaining portions of the citation and dismissed the action with prejudice. Rice appealed and the circuit court affirmed the district court’s order. The Court of Appeals denied Rice’s application for leave to appeal the circuit court’s order. In lieu of granting leave to appeal, the Michigan Supreme Court remanded the case to the Court of Appeals for consideration as on leave granted. On remand, in an unpublished per curiam opinion, the Court of Appeals affirmed the circuit court’s legal conclusions, holding that an award of costs , expenses, and fees was not mandatory under MCL 286.473b, but the Court of Appeals remanded the case to the district court for articulation of the district court’s reasons for the discretionary denial. The Michigan Supreme Court found no such discretion under the RTFA, and Rice was entitled to his fees. The appellate court’s judgment was reversed. View "Township of James v. Rice" on Justia Law

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The Texas Legislature limited beer-to-go sales to brewers and manufacturers that produced no more than 225,000 barrels annually “at all premises [they] wholly or partly owned.” Tex. Alco. Bev. Code Ann. Sections 62.122(a) and 12.052(a).   The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) ordered CANarchy to cease and desist after it determined that CANarchy’s facilities collectively exceeded the 225,000-barrel limit. CANarchy complied with the order but then filed suit, seeking a declaratory judgment that the 225,000- barrel threshold did not apply to barrels produced at leased premises. The district court agreed with CANarchy that “premises wholly or partly owned” do not include leased premises and granted it summary judgment.   The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court’s order granting Plaintiff’s motion for a declaratory judgment. The court held that “premises wholly or partly owned” do not include leased premises and granted it summary judgment.   The court wrote, “it is the Legislature’s prerogative to enact statutes; it is the judiciary’s responsibility to interpret those statutes according to the language the Legislature used, absent a context indicating a different meaning or the result of the plain meaning of the language yielding absurd or nonsensical results.” Here, the ordinary definition of “owned,” when applied to sections 12.052(a) and 62.122(a) of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, establishes that the 225,000-barrel production threshold set in those statutes encompasses only barrels produced at premises owned by the brewer, either in whole or in part, and not at premises leased by the brewer. View "CANarchy Craft Brewery v. Texas Alcoholic" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court quashed the portion of the superior court order granting partial summary judgment in favor of Plaintiffs as to liability against Westlo Management, LLC on counts one, two, three, and seven of Plaintiffs' third-amended complaint, holding that the record was inadequate for a determination of whether the hearing justice abused his discretion in granting the motion to intervene filed by The Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights.Plaintiff Curtis Andrade filed a charge of discrimination with the Commission. The Commission found probable cause that Defendants had violated Plaintiff's rights. Plaintiff then filed this action, after which the hearing justice granted the Commission's motion to intervene as a party plaintiff. The hearing justice granted Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment on four counts against Westlo, finding that Westlo had discriminated against Plaintiff by denying him the reasonable accommodation of having his dog his residence. The Supreme Court vacated the decision below, holding that Westlo failed provide the Court with a proper transcript of the hearing on the Commission's motion to intervene this Court was unable to conduct a meaningful review of the superior court's decisions on the issue of the Commission's intervention. View "Andrade v. Westlo Management LLC" on Justia Law

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In 2008, the City of Gulfport undertook a project to replace the infrastructure associated with its water and sewer systems relating to damage caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The repair project involved federal, state, and local agencies and ultimately cost approximately $85 million to complete. The original design of the Area 3B project, the sewer infrastructure that crossed the Cowan Road property located north of U.S. Highway 90 and east of Highway 605 were to be replaced, and the new infrastructure was to be installed within the City’s existing easements across the properties. The Cowan Road property at issue was located in the Area 3B geographic zone. Robert “Kris” Riemann, P.E., then-director of the City’s department of public works, was notified that John Felsher had inquired about relocating the sewer infrastructure in Area 3B. Based on an agreement with Felsher to relocate the utilities, the City had the Area 3B design drawings redrafted to move the utilities. The City's project manager was notified that the discovery of underground telephone lines and other utilities required that the sewer line being relocated had to cut the northwest corner of the property. Cowan Road filed a complaint in the Chancery Court of Harrison County, Mississippi, advancing a claim for inverse condemnation against the City. The chancery court transferred the case to the Special Court of Eminent Domain in Harrison County. Due to the jurisdictional limits of county court, the case ended up in Harrison County Circuit Court. The circuit court entered an order granting the motion for partial summary judgment filed by the City on the issue of the date of the taking. The parties eventually settled the reverse condemnation claim, and the City agreed to pay $100,000 to Cowan Road & Hwy 90, LLC, for the improper and unlawful taking of its property. The issue before the Mississippi Supreme Court centered on the circuit court's grant of attorneys' fees and expenses: Gulfport argued that Cowan Road should not have been allowed to recover attorneys’ fees under Section 43-37-9. Finding that the statute applied and fees were appropriate, the Supreme Court affirmed. However, the Court found the trial judge abused his discretion by disallowing requests for postjudgment interest. View "City of Gulfport v. Cowan Road & Hwy 90, LLC, et al." on Justia Law

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Petitioner Andrew Campbell was a lifelong Michigan resident. For many years, petitioner claimed and enjoyed a principal residence exemption (PRE) on his Michigan residence. In late 2016, petitioner purchased a second home in Surprise, Arizona. Respondent Michigan Department of Treasury (Treasury), reviewed and denied petitioner’s PRE claim for his Michigan property for the 2017 tax year. In the ensuing dispute, the issue this case presented for the Michigan Supreme Court's review was whether a property owner was entitled to claim a PRE under Michigan tax law when the owner received a similar tax benefit for a home in another state. To this the Supreme Court concluded that petitioner was not entitled to the PRE. Specifically, under MCL 211.7cc(3)(a), a property owner “is not entitled to [the PRE] in any calendar year in which . . . [t]hat person has claimed a substantially similar exemption, deduction, or credit, regardless of amount, on property in another state.” Accordingly, the Court reversed the judgment of the Court of Appeals and reinstated the Department of Treasury’s October 2, 2018 decision and order of determination denying petitioner’s PRE for the 2017 tax year. View "Campbell v. Department Of Treasury" on Justia Law

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Blue Appaloosa, Inc., appealed a judgment affirming an Industrial Commission order determining it violated N.D. Admin. Code ch. 43-02-03 by beginning construction of a treating plant prior to obtaining a permit or filing a bond with the Commission. Finding no reversible error, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed. View "Blue Appaloosa v. NDIC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that, absent a clear abuse of discretion, governmental immunity protects a zoning commission's determination that a proposed subdivision conforms with applicable law.After the City of Georgetown's Planning and Zoning Commission approved a preliminary plat for a new 89-home subdivision neighboring Escalera Ranch, a subdivision to the north the Escalera Ranch Owners' Association sued the Commission members, asserting that their approval of the plat was a clear abuse of discretion. The trial court granted the Commissioners' plea to the jurisdiction, concluding that the Association lacked standing to sue. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Commissioners adhered to their duty in determining that the preliminary plat conformed to the applicable standards. View "Schroeder v. Escalera Ranch Owners' Ass'n" on Justia Law