“Words Matter” in Zoning Ordinance Interpretation

This month the Court of Appeals published an opinion (Appalachian Materials v. Watauga County) that provides clear step-by-step instructions for interpreting a zoning ordinance. Is this opinion, following on the heels of Henion v. Watauga County boring? Not at all. It involves local political intrigue, a meddling “environmental” group, and friendly judicial jousting.   Plus, I’ll […]

A New Must-Read Case on Quasi-Judicial Proceedings

Last week the N.C. Court of Appeals published yet another opinion (PHG v. City of Asheville) that (1) further defines the template for deciding quasi-judicial zoning applications and (2) curtails the all-too-frequent seduction of board members to slip into legislative shoes while wearing a (quasi) judicial robe. Full disclosure: I argued PHG to the Court […]

A New Game Changer Zoning Case

I published this post last January but my law partners – who won the case – asked me to take it down. Why? Because the other parties asked the N.C. Supreme Court to review the decision and one of the bases for higher review is a case’s significance. And since I had described this decision as one […]

Case Law Update – What Is “Standing” and Who Has It?

“Standing” is suddenly a hot topic in zoning law, with three recent appellate opinions on the subject, one of which was a case of first impression decided by our Supreme Court. SIDEBAR: My colleague Kip Nelson and I have our own standing case in the N.C. Court of Appeals awaiting decision.  Accordingly – and since […]

Case Law Update – Solar Farms (Again), the Prima Facie Case (Again), and Other Fun Facts (Again)

Yet another Court of Appeals case, Ecoplexus v. Currituck County, examined the denial of a solar farm and applied the same principles as in Dellinger v. Lincoln County and Innovative 55 v. Robeson County, but with some interesting twists. Facts Ecoplexus arises from Currituck County, a county that is now widely known as, well, I’ll […]

Case Law Update – Spot Zoning, Consistency Statements, and Arbitrary Decisions

The Court of Appeals recently reviewed three issues in a Randolph County rezoning: was the decision “spot zoning”? Was it arbitrary and capricious? And was it adopted with appropriate procedures?  On spot zoning the law was slightly expanded. On the other two issues the court reminds us of the distinction between judicial and legislative functions. […]

Case law Update – Are There Limits to a Zoning Administrator’s Authority?

A recent N.C. Court of Appeals decision asked all the right questions about a zoning administrator’s authority to make discretionary decisions related to standing. And with one exception, found in the dissent, the Court gave all the right answers. In Morningstar Marinas, et. al. v. Warren County and Ken Krulik, Warren County Planning and Zoning […]

Case Law Update – When a Zoning Board’s Decision Becomes Binding Legal Precedent

A recent N.C. Court of Appeals decision expanded upon and clarified when a prior quasi-judicial decision is binding on future boards. Disclosure: It was my privilege to have served as co-counsel at the board level and as lead litigation counsel for the petitioners in this case. While I don’t believe the commentary below exhibits bias, […]

Case Law Update – When It Helps to Read the Statute

Quasi-judicial proceedings are quite common in land use decisions.  They are proceedings where the local board loosely follows the rules of the courtroom in order to determine if the applicant has presented sufficient evidence on which the board can make the necessary findings to issue a variance or a special use permit or to overturn […]

Case Law Update – Making the Case for a Cell Tower

Just before Christmas the N.C. Court of Appeals issued an opinion that illustrates the necessity of presenting facts to support your case when the board is considering a special or conditional use permit.  Opinions, speculations, conjectures and surmises, the Court properly reminds us, are not evidence. In Blair Investments, LLC v. Roanoke Rapids, the city […]

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