Monday, January 6, 2014

Western Land Equities, Inc. v. City of Logan case brief

Western Land Equities, Inc. v. City of Logan case brief summary
617 P.2d 388 (1980)

CASE SYNOPSIS
Plaintiff filed a complaint seeking a determination, as a matter of law, that they had a vested right to develop a subdivision and that defendants, city, its municipal council and certain of its officials (city), were estopped from withholding approval of the subdivision. The district court (Utah) ruled in favor of the developers. The city appealed.

CASE FACTS
The developer purchased property within the city to use for moderately priced single-family housing. The property was zoned for manufacturing with single-family dwellings permitted. The city rejected the developer's subdivision proposal on the grounds that it was contrary to the land use ordinance and to the city's master plan, the access roads were inadequate, and the location of the railroad made it an inappropriate site for housing. The city subsequently enacted a change in its zoning ordinance that became effective as applied to the developer's property.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY
The district court found that the developers had a vested right to develop the proposed subdivision.

DISCUSSION

  • On appeal, the city argued that the planning commission was justified in its disapproval of the project because of its undesirable or nonconforming aspects. 
  • The court held that an applicant was entitled to a building permit or subdivision approval if the proposal met the zoning requirements in existence at the time of the application and if he proceeded with reasonable diligence and there was no compelling, countervailing public interest. 
  • The city did not have a compelling reason for withholding approval.

CONCLUSION
The court affirmed the order that estopped the city from enforcing a zoning change that prohibited the developer's proposed use.

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