Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law
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Plaintiffs’ operated a mobilehome park owned by one of Plaintiff’s clients. The Department of Real Estate filed an accusation alleging Plaintiff violated various provisions of the Real Estate Law. The administrative law judge issued a proposed order revoking Plaintiffs’ licenses which the Department adopted. Plaintiffs’ filed a petition for a writ of administrative mandate, contending they did not receive a fair hearing because the administrative law judge considered improper evidence, including expert testimony from several witnesses the Department did not designate as experts. Plaintiffs also contended the administrative law judge erred in ruling they violated statutes in the Business and Professions Code.   The trial court denied the petition and Plaintiffs’ appealed. The Second Appellate District affirmed. The court wrote that Plaintiffs’ contend they did not receive a fair hearing because, while the Department “did not properly identify any expert witnesses” prior to the hearing and represented at the hearing that “no expert opinion testimony would be offered,” the testimony of all three witnesses went far beyond permissible lay witness opinion.” The court explained that Plaintiffs’ cite the wrong legal standard governing their contentions. As the trial court correctly observed, a hearing under the Administrative Procedure Act “need not be conducted according to technical rules relating to evidence and witnesses,” unless expressly required by the Act. Further, the court held that even if the Department’s decision to revoke Nijjar’s and Miller’s licenses was partially motivated by its belief Plaintiffs had some responsibility for the fire, Plaintiffs would still not be entitled to reversal of the judgment. View "Miller v. Dept. of Real Estate" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision and judgment of the superior court affirming the decisions of the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) denying the application of Champlin's Realty Associates to expand its marina on the Great Salt Pond in the Town of New Shoreham, holding that there was no error.The trial justice found there was sufficient evidence to support the CRMC's denial of Champlin's application to expand its marina and held that the CRMC had acted within its authority in denying the application. Champlin's and the CRMC later filed a motion seeking to incorporate and merge a joint memorandum of understanding (the MOU) purporting to serve as the CRMC's decision relative to this matter into a consent order of the Court. Certain entities (intervenors) and the attorney general contested the propriety of the purported settlement and the validity of the MOU. The superior court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed and denied the request by Champlin's and the CRMC to incorporate and merge the MOU into a consent order of the Supreme Court, holding that the remand justice erred in determining that the CRMC and Champlin's had authority to meditate. View "Champlin's Realty Associates v. Coastal Resources Management Council" on Justia Law

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Fannie Mae purchases mortgage loans from commercial banks, which enables the lenders to make additional loans, finances those purchases by packaging the mortgage loans into mortgage-backed securities, then sells those securities to investors. In 1968, Fannie Mae became a publicly-traded, stockholder-owned corporation. Freddie Mac also buys mortgage loans and securities and sells those mortgage-backed securities to investors. In 1989, Freddie Mac became a publicly traded, stockholder-owned corporation. In the 2008 recession, both entities suffered precipitous drops in the value of their mortgage portfolios. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) was established and authorized to undertake extraordinary measures to resuscitate the companies, 12 U.S.C. 4511(b)(1).Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac shareholders sought to nullify an agreement (the “third amendment”) between FHFA and the Treasury Department that “secured unlimited funding" from Treasury in exchange for "almost all of Fannie’s and Freddie’s future profits.” The third amendment was authorized by FHFA’s Acting Director, who was serving in violation of the Appointments Clause. Shareholders also claimed that they are entitled to retrospective relief because the Supreme Court held in 2021 that FHFA’s enabling statute contained an unconstitutional removal restriction. The district court dismissed the complaint. The Sixth Circuit reversed, holding that the Acting Director was not serving in violation of the Constitution when he signed the third amendment. The court remanded for determination of whether the unconstitutional removal restriction inflicted harm on shareholders. View "Rop v. Federal Housing Finance Agency" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-Appellant, Ocean Bay Mart, Inc. (“Ocean Bay”), owned a 7.71- acre parcel of real property in the City of Rehoboth Beach (“the City”). In June 2015, Ocean Bay submitted a Site Plan to the City proposing to develop the property into 63 residential condominium units. Under the plan, the 7.71 acres would remain a single, undivided parcel. The development would be known as “Beach Walk.” The submission of the Site Plan set into motion a chain of events over whether Beach Walk could be approved as a single, undivided parcel or whether the project had to be subdivided into individual lots corresponding to the residential units. The events included a decision by the City’s Building Inspector that the project could not be approved as a single, undivided parcel; a decision by the City’s Board of Adjustment overruling the Building Inspector’s decision; a decision by the City’s Planning Commission, rendered after the Board of Adjustment’s decision, that the Site Plan could not be considered unless it was resubmitted as a major subdivision application; a decision by the City Commissioners upholding the Planning Commission; an appeal of the Commissioners’ decision to the Superior Court, which reversed the Commissioners; and the City’s adoption of three amendments to its zoning code. Ocean Bay filed this action with the Delaware Court of Chancery, alleging that it had a vested right to have its Site Plan approved substantially in the form submitted without going through major subdivision approval, and that the City was equitably estopped from enforcing the zoning code amendments against Beach Walk. After a trial, the Court of Chancery ruled that Ocean Bay did not have a vested right to develop Beach Walk as laid out on the Site Plan and the City was not equitably estopped from enforcing its new zoning amendments. Ocean Bay appealed, but finding no reversible error, the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed. View "Ocean Bay Mart, Inc. v. The City of Rehoboth Beach Delaware" on Justia Law

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The Indiana Southwestern Railway Company sought to abandon railway easements, in which the owners had reversionary interests. The Surface Transportation Board (49 U.S.C. 10903) issued a Notice of Interim Trail Use and Abandonment (NITU). Negotiations with potential railbanking sponsors failed. Eventually, the NITU expired, Railway abandoned its easements without entering into a trail use agreement, and the landowners’ fee simple interests became unencumbered by any easements.The landowners sought compensation for an alleged taking arising under the National Trails System Act Amendments of 1983, 16 U.S.C. 1247(d), claiming that the government had permanently taken their property in April 2001, when the NITU became effective. The Claims Court found that the government had taken the property but that the taking lasted only from the date the NITU went into effect until it expired. The Federal Circuit affirmed in part. The landowner’s property was temporarily taken under the Trails Act. The NITU delayed the reversion of the owners’ interests. The Railway would have otherwise relinquished its rights to its right-of-way during the NITU period. The court remanded for a determination as to the compensation and interest to which the owners are entitled. View "Memmer v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court reversed the order of the Land Court denying Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment in this land dispute, holding that an undeveloped lot that was deemed unbuildable under the local zoning bylaw in effect when the lot's owner requested a building permit was protected as buildable under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 40A, 6.At issue before the Supreme Judicial Court was whether the lot at issue met the minimum "frontage" requirement set forth in Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 40A, 6. The land court annulled the issuance of the building permit in this case, concluding that the lot did not qualify for protection under the statute. The appeals court reversed and reinstated the decision of the zoning board of appeals allowing the application for a permit. The Supreme Judicial Court reversed and vacated the land court judge's order, holding that the subject lot had more than fifty feet of "frontage" on a "way," and therefore, the lot was protected as a buildable lot pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 40A, 6. View "Williams v. Board of Appeals of Norwell" on Justia Law

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After “one of the driest years in recorded state history,” in 2015 the Water Resources Control Board issued orders to curtail water use in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. The trial court concluded that the Board’s curtailment notices violated the due process rights of irrigation districts and water agencies by failing to provide them with a pre-deprivation hearing or any other opportunity to challenge the bases for the notices. The court addressed the due process issue, even though it was technically moot.The court of appeal affirmed. The Board has no authority, under Water Code section 1052(a), to curtail the diversion or use of water by holders of valid pre-1914 appropriative water rights—a group with distinctive rights rooted in the history of California water law--on the sole ground that there is insufficient water to service their priorities of right due to drought conditions. This statutory language “subject to this division other than as authorized in this division” excludes the diversion or use of water within the scope of a valid pre-1914 appropriative right, even during times of limited water supply. Section 1052(a) provides the Board authority to enjoin a diversion or use of water that falls outside the scope of a right held by a pre-1914 appropriative right holder. View "California Water Curtailment Cases" on Justia Law

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Petitioner Chichester Commons, LLC appealed a Housing Appeals Board (HAB) decision affirming a decision of the planning board for respondent Town of Chichester (Town), denying petitioner’s request for a waiver of the density requirement set forth in the Town’s zoning ordinance. Petitioner argued that the HAB erred by affirming the board’s decision because, in 2015, the board granted the petitioner a density waiver for a similar elderly housing project that petitioner had proposed for the same property. The New Hampshire Supreme Court concluded the 2015 density waiver did not apply to the current version of petitioner’s proposed elderly housing project and was not binding upon the board. Accordingly, it affirmed the HAB’s decision. View "Appeal of Chichester Commons, LLC" on Justia Law

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Sailboat Bend Sober Living, LLC (“Sailboat Bend”), a for-profit sober living home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Silboat Bend has had trouble complying with the City of Fort Lauderdale (“the City”)’s Building and Fire Codes (collectively, “Codes”) and the City’s recently enacted Zoning Ordinance. Sailboat Bend brought several claims under the Fair Housing Act and Amendments (“FHA”) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) against the City in the Southern District of Florida, claiming that the City’s code enforcement decisions were motived by hostility to the disabled, their accommodation request was wrongfully denied, and the Zoning Ordinance was facially discriminatory against people with disabilities.The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's order granting summary judgment to the City of Fort Lauderdale, finding that the challenged zoning ordinance does not discriminate against the plaintiffs, but instead works to their benefit. The court also determined that plaintiff's requested accommodation was not necessary. View "Sailboat Bend Sober Living, et al v. City of Fort Lauderdale, FL." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals held that the Forest Conservation Act of 1991 (the Act) and regulations promulgated by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) required a right to appeal the approval of a forest conservation plan and that a county agency's approval of a forest conservation plan is a "final decision" for appeal purposes.At issue before the Court of Appeals was whether the approval of a forest conservation plan, as well as an associated waiver that authorizers a developer to remove trees that would otherwise be protected under the Act, is a final agency decision subject to independent judicial review under the Harford County Forest Conservation Program. The Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the court of special appeals with directions to remand the case for further proceedings in the circuit court, holding that the Act and regulations promulgated by DNR require a right to appeal the approval of a forest conservation plan and that a county agency's approval of a forest conservation plan is a "final decision" for appeal purposes. View "Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Inc. v. CREG Westport I, LLC" on Justia Law