Articles Posted in Zoning, Planning & Land Use

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The Madison County Board of Supervisors (the Board) found Arlin George Hatfield, III (who raised “chickens, guinea fowl, and ducks”) violated a Madison County Zoning Ordinance (the Ordinance) section, which did not expressly permit raising and keeping fowl in residential neighborhoods. The Board’s decision was consistent with an earlier interpretation and application of the Ordinance section. Hatfield was sued in October 2013 a little over a year after purchasing a lot in the Deer Haven Subdivision, by the Deer Haven Owners Association (DHOA). The claim stemmed from his supposed violation of subdivision covenants that prohibited keeping or raising fowl4 and constructing structures—such as pens and coops—without DHOA approval. Hatfield alleges that while this lawsuit was pending, DHOA contacted and involved Scott Weeks, an administrator with the Madison County Planning and Zoning Department. Weeks inspected Hatfield’s property on February 18, 2015, and found Hatfield was violating the “R-1 Residential District” section of the Madison County Zoning Ordinance. Hatfield filed a Notice of Appeal and Intent to File Bill of Exceptions, arguing the Board’s decision was arbitrary and capricious, not supported by substantial evidence, and was based on an unconstitutionally vague Ordinance section. After review, based on the Board’s prior treatment of a similar matter and its construction of the applicable zoning law, the Mississippi Supreme Court found the Board’s decision was neither arbitrary nor capricious. The Court also found that, in light of the entire Ordinance, Hatfield had sufficient notice that keeping or raising fowl on residential property was prohibited. View "Hatfield v. Board of Supervisors of Madison County" on Justia Law

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H&G Land Company, L.P. entered into a lease agreement with APAC-Mississippi, Inc. (“APAC”), whereby APAC would operate an asphalt plant and mining operation on H&G’s land for a period of twenty years. H&G then filed an application for a special exception to extract sand and gravel on its property. The application included documentation concerning property, including ownership, government permits, insurance, a bond for reclamation of the property, and site proposals. Thereafter, the Panola County Land Development Commission held a series of hearings to consider H&G’s application. At the last hearing, the Commission denied the application and informed H&G that it could appeal to the Board, which reversed the Commission. At its next regularly scheduled meeting, the Board held a hearing to consider H&G’s request. Several local businesses and residents attended the meeting to oppose H&G’s request, so the Board permitted each side time to present their arguments. Following the presentations, the Board voted to approve H&G's application. The businesses and residents appealed. But finding no reversible error in the Board's approval, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Como Steak House, Inc. v. Board of Supervisors of Panola County" on Justia Law

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The Gulfport City Council approved the City of Gulfport’s application to use the historic Grass Lawn Home as a recreation center upon its reconstruction after Hurricane Katrina. Peter and Fay Barrett appealed the City Council’s decision, arguing that Grass Lawn was zoned exclusively for residential use and that the City had abandoned any nonconforming use on the property in question. The circuit court dismissed the Barretts’ claim as moot, and the Barretts then appealed to the Supreme Court. After review, the Supreme Court found that the circuit court correctly found that the Barretts’ appeal was rendered moot by the City’s withdrawal of its application, and the Barretts’ appeal did not meet an exception to the mootness doctrine. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the circuit court’s dismissal of the Barretts’ appeal. View "Barrett v. City of Gulfport" on Justia Law

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This is the third appeal from the City of Gulfport’s taking of the Dedeaux Utility Company via eminent domain. Dedeaux appealed after the first two trials, and the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed and remanded both times. The parties have since held a third trial, and Gulfport appealed and Dedeaux cross-appealed issues raised from the third trial. Gulfport raised thirteen issues on appeal. And while the Court gave careful consideration to each, the Court found only five warranted discussion, and yet none warranted reversal of the third trial's final judgment. Gulfport asked the trial judge to “determine a fair and equitable interest rate to be paid on the Final Judgment based upon the rates paid on invested funds during the time period in which the eminent domain action was pending.” The Supreme Court reversed the trial judge’s post-trial order denying Gulfport’s motion to establish the interest rate, and remanded this action to the Harrison County Special Court of Eminent Domain for the limited purpose of determining the applicable interest rate and entering an order requiring payment of that interest. The Court declined to address Dedeaux’s cross-appeal. View "City of Gulfport v. Dedeaux Utility Company, Inc." on Justia Law

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This is the third appeal from the City of Gulfport’s taking of the Dedeaux Utility Company via eminent domain. Dedeaux appealed after the first two trials, and the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed and remanded both times. The parties have since held a third trial, and Gulfport appealed and Dedeaux cross-appealed issues raised from the third trial. Gulfport raised thirteen issues on appeal. And while the Court gave careful consideration to each, the Court found only five warranted discussion, and yet none warranted reversal of the third trial's final judgment. Gulfport asked the trial judge to “determine a fair and equitable interest rate to be paid on the Final Judgment based upon the rates paid on invested funds during the time period in which the eminent domain action was pending.” The Supreme Court reversed the trial judge’s post-trial order denying Gulfport’s motion to establish the interest rate, and remanded this action to the Harrison County Special Court of Eminent Domain for the limited purpose of determining the applicable interest rate and entering an order requiring payment of that interest. The Court declined to address Dedeaux’s cross-appeal. View "City of Gulfport v. Dedeaux Utility Company, Inc." on Justia Law

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When the Mississippi State Highway Commission (MHC) sought a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) to fill wetlands in the roadbed of a proposed limited-access road, it pledged approximately 1,300 acres of Ward Gulfport Properties, L.P.’s and T. Jerard Gulfport, L.L.C.’s (collectively, “Ward”) property as wetlands mitigation. ACE issued the permit to MHC in 2009. Ward filed suit in state court against MHC, seeking damages from an unlawful taking, and in federal court against ACE, seeking to have the permit invalidated. The federal court vacated the permit. MHC moved for summary judgment, arguing that no taking had occurred and that the federal court had determined ACE, not MHC, had caused Ward’s losses. The trial court granted MHC’s motion. Ward appealed. Finding the trial court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of MHC, the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed and remanded. View "Ward Gulfport Properties, L.P. v. Mississippi State Highway Commission" on Justia Law

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The City of Richland began enforcing a zoning ordinance that regulated nonconforming uses, and as a result, prohibited Cleveland MHC, LLC from replacing mobile homes that were removed from its property. The circuit court upheld the City’s decision, and Cleveland MHC appealed. The Court of Appeals reversed. The City petitioned for certiorari review. The Supreme Court found that the City’s interpretation of the nonconforming use ordinance in its July 2011 resolution was both arbitrary and capricious and violated Cleveland MHC’s constitutional right to enjoy its property. The Court affirmed the judgment of the Court of Appeals. The circuit court's decision was reversed and remanded. View "Cleveland MHC, LLC v. City of Richland" on Justia Law

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After the Lowndes County Board of Supervisors voted to abandon a railroad crossing, the county put up a barricade. Residents affected by the barricade filed two separate motions for reconsideration, and the Board held a second meeting in which it affirmed the abandonment but ordered the barricade removed. The residents filed a bill of exceptions which reversed the Board’s decision to abandon the crossing. The Court of Appeals reversed the circuit court, holding it had no jurisdiction to hear the bill of exceptions. After review, the Supreme Court found that, although the circuit court had appellate jurisdiction to review the Board’s second decision, it lacked jurisdiction to consider the Board’s original decision. So the judgments of the Court of Appeals and the circuit court were reversed, and the case remanded for the circuit court to consider only whether the Board’s second order complied with the statutory procedure for abandoning a road. View "Lowndes County v. McClanahan" on Justia Law

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The Mississippi Transportation Commission (MTC) procured some land from O.R. and Carylon Garretson via eminent domain in order to construct a bypass in Greene County. The Garretsons later filed a complaint against the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT), alleging that the bypass construction had caused silt to flood onto their remaining land, damaging their timber. MDOT filed a motion for summary judgment and argued that it was immune under Mississippi Code Section 11-46-9(1), subsections (d) (discretionary-function immunity) and (p) (design immunity). The Supreme Court agreed that MDOT was immune from liability under subsection (p) and affirmed. View "Garretson v. Mississippi Department of Transportation" on Justia Law

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In 1972, the Board of Supervisors of Jackson County, Mississippi, approved the final plat for Spring Lake Subdivision. At that time, the only vehicular access to the subdivision was Spring Lake Drive East, which crossed Spring Lake Dam. The McBrooms, who owned three subdivision lots on Spring Lake, and the dam forming the lake and providing access to the subdivision, contended that Jackson County was obligated to maintain the deteriorating roadway by virtue of the McBrooms’ dedication of the roadway to public use and Jackson County’s acceptance of their dedication. The Chancery Court held that the McBrooms were entitled to no relief. Finding that the Spring Lake Dam and the roadway over it were dedicated to public use and accepted by Jackson County under common law (as evidenced by more than thirty years of continuous use by the public), the Supreme Court reversed and remanded for entry of judgment for the McBrooms. View "McBroom v. Jackson County" on Justia Law