Case Law Update – SCOTUS, Koontz v. St. Johns River Water District, and the Public/Private Tug-of-War

This past week the U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion in Koontz v. St. John’s Water District, a case lauded by property rights advocates as a “landmark ruling” and claimed by the permitting/planning communities to be an unreasonable shackle on legitimate governmental powers. It is neither. What were the [true] facts? The facts read differently […]

Is it Really the Zoning? Or Do You Just Not Like “Those People”?

            As a quarter-century veteran of land use battles in every corner of this state there’s little I haven’t heard.  But this much I know. What people think is often not reflected in what they say at the public podium.               And being a veteran Southerner in my mid-fifties, I have decently honed skills in […]

Case Law Update – A Comment on Video Sweepstakes

            Members of the land use bar and city/county planning communities have anxiously awaited the N.C. Supreme Court’s review of Hest Technologies v. State of North Carolina involving what is popularly called video poker or video sweepstakes.  The case was appealed from the Court of Appeals, which found such displays to be protected speech.              […]

High Court Supports Property Rights Over Government – Again

             On the same day the N.C. Supreme Court supported a developer’s need for a driveway permit over NCDOT’s whimsical requirement that the developer first build a $3 million bridge to carry traffic from 60 homes, the High Court issued yet another opinion supporting private property rights in an inverse condemnation case brought in Guilford […]

High Court Clips NCDOT’s Wings

            This past week the N.C. Supreme Court issued a long-awaited opinion in which basic property rights prevailed over a state agency with seemingly unlimited authority. The case is High Rock Lake Partners v. NCDOT.  Justice Paul Newby’s concise opinion is easy to follow and worth the read.  The Facts              High Rock Lake Partners’ […]

Case Law Update – Does a Distant City Have Standing to Allege County Engaged in “Contract Zoning”?

            Last week the N.C. Court of Appeals issued an opinion that ends a long-fought battle between two eastern North Carolina governments, a battle that has pre-occupied the media, the public, and elected officials for 2½ years. The case is Morgan, et. al. v. Nash County.              Full and complete disclosure: I was privileged to […]

Case Law Update – Vested Rights and Lousy Syntax

            Last week the Court of Appeals published an opinion (MNC Holdings v. Town of Matthews) that analyzed how to interpret poorly written zoning ordinances, especially when a citizen’s property and rights are on the line.               Full and complete disclosure: I was lead counsel for the prevailing party.   I have strong opinions about the […]

Morrisville Tower Case Revisited

            Law is not unlike archery.  You can hit the bullseye, the third ring, or miss the target altogether.  In my recent post on the Morrisville cell tower case (American Tower v. Town of Morrisville) I thought I had hit the bullseye.              Subsequently, comments from and discussion with members of the land use bar […]

Case Law Update – Cell Towers, SUPs and Impossible Standards

            A recent Court of Appeals opinion, American Towers v. Town of Morrisville, simultaneously provides a good road map for interpreting evidence in quasi-judicial proceedings, shows how utterly maddening it can be to practice before local government boards, and illustrates how difficult-to-meet standards can be made impossible-to-meet when interpreted by boards and courts.              Before […]

On Leviathan’s Trail

            Leviathan.  Li-VAYH-uh thuhn – (1) “Anything of immense size and power, as a huge, oceangoing ship. (2) The title of Thomas Hobbes’ 1651 philosophical work which asserts that a strong central government is the only means of averting social chaos and civil war.”             Thomas Hobbes, meet the North Carolina Supreme Court, which heard […]

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