Articles Posted in Zoning, Planning & Land Use

by
Nandan, LLP appealed the grant of summary judgment and an order denying its N.D.R.Civ.P. 60(b) motion for relief from judgment, ruling that road and utility repairs were incidental to the repair of a water and sewer system damaged by a landslide in Fargo, and that the City of Fargo was therefore not required to pass a resolution of necessity to create an improvement district to fund the repairs. In 2012, a landslide occurred along 32nd Street North in Fargo near where Nandan and Border States Paving, Inc., owned property. The landslide damaged a water main and storm sewer; the street; and Drain No. 10, which was owned, operated, and maintained by the Southeast Cass Water Resource District. The road and adjacent water and sewer lines were owned by Fargo. Fargo created an improvement district to fund repairs to the drain, water main, and sanitary sewer systems on a portion of the drain without adopting a resolution of necessity. Fargo later entered into a joint powers agreement with the District which set forth the parties' obligations for the repairs. The district court granted Fargo's N.D.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted, concluding Nandan and Border States had no right to protest under N.D.C.C. 40-22-06 because the city let the bids for project construction, or under N.D.C.C. 40-22-15 because the project constituted a water or sewer improvement for which a resolution of necessity was not required. Finding that Nandan failed to raise a genuine issue of material fact precluding summary judgment, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed. View "Nandan, LLP v. City of Fargo" on Justia Law

by
Western Petroleum, LLC, and Maxum Petroleum Operating Company, Inc., doing business as Pilot Logistics Services (Pilot), appealed a district court order affirming their appeal of the Williams County Board of County Commissioners' decision to penalize Pilot for violating the county's temporary housing regulations. In September 2011 the Williams County Board of County Commissioners adopted temporary housing regulations relating to the use of "man camps" or "crew housing facilities" in the county. The use of temporary housing on property within the county was prohibited without a conditional use permit. In 2014 the Board became aware that Pilot was using its property for temporary housing after Western Petroleum's permit expired. Pilot was out of compliance on 40 RVs since September 6, 2012, and on seven mobile home units since September 6, 2013. Pilot also had two two-story framed houses on the property that were not permitted under Western Petroleum's conditional use permit. At its July 2014 meeting, the Board assessed a $29,635,000 penalty against Pilot for violating the temporary housing regulations. The Board calculated the penalty by treating each non-permitted use as a violation subject to a $1,000 penalty per day. The Board calculated the $1,000 penalty on a per housing unit, per day basis. The Board offered Pilot a reduced penalty of $1,885,000 if paid within 10 days. Pilot did not pay the reduced penalty and the Board imposed the full penalty. The district court affirmed the Board's decision, concluding the penalty against Pilot was supported by the evidence and was not an unreasonable interpretation of the temporary housing regulations. The North Dakota Supreme Court disagreed, reversed and remanded because the Board unreasonably interpreted the regulations. View "Western Petroleum, LLC v. Williams Cty. Bd. of Commissioners" on Justia Law

by
Dakota Outdoor Advertising, LLC ("Dakota") appealed the district court's order affirming the Bismarck Board of Commissioner's ("Board") decision affirming the Bismarck Planning and Zoning Commission's ("Commission") denial of an application for a special use permit. City of Bismarck ordinances regulating placement of digital billboards were changed since the district court entered judgment in this case. Section 14-03-08(3)(b)(2)(j) no longer included a provision for obtaining a special use permit for a digital billboard at a distance of less than 300 feet from a residential area. The current provisions governing siting of digital billboards would no longer permit Dakota to obtain a special use permit for the proposed site. The Board argued this appeal was now made moot. After review, the Supreme Court did not find this appeal was moot, but also found that the Board's decision to deny the special use permit was not arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the district court's order affirming the Board's decision to deny the special use permit. View "Dakota Outdoor Advertising, Inc. v. City of Bismarck" on Justia Law

by
In August 2014, the First Western Bank and Trust (Bank) applied for two variances from City of Minot zoning regulations for off-street parking after incorrectly calculating the size of an addition to its bank building. The Bank's application sought to reduce the required number of off-street parking spaces for its building from 131 to 110 and to reduce the required width of each parking space from 10 to 9 feet. After notice to the Bank's neighbors, the Minot Planning Commission met to consider the application, and several neighbors appeared to oppose the application. The Planning Commission approved the application, finding the existence of an exceptional topographical hardship and the variances could be granted without substantial detriment to the public good and without impairing the general purpose and intent of Minot's comprehensive zoning plan. The Planning Commission affirmed its earlier decision approving the application. The City Council later affirmed the Planning Commission's decision. Sixteen Minot residents living near the Bank appealed a judgment dismissing their appeal of the City Council’s decision to grant the Bank's application for zoning variances. The residents argued the district court erred in ruling they lacked standing under N.D.C.C. 40-47-12 to appeal the City Council's decision granting the variances. After review, the Supreme Court concluded the district court erred in applying N.D.C.C. 40-47-12 as grounds for its standing decision. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court concluded the residents were not aggrieved applicants authorized to appeal a variance decision under N.D.C.C. 40-47-11. The Court therefore affirmed the judgment dismissing their appeal. View "Schmidt v. City of Minot" on Justia Law

by
Plains Marketing, LP and Van Hook Crude Terminal, LLC, appealed an order affirming a Mountrail County Board of County Commissioners' decision to deny their application for an abatement of 2013 real estate taxes for three parcels of land in Mountrail County. They argued the North Dakota Supreme Court should reverse the County Board's denial of their application for an abatement because the County Board incorrectly applied the omitted property provisions in N.D.C.C. ch. 57-14. After review of the Commissioners' decision, the Supreme Court agreed and reversed the order. View "Plains Marketing, LP v. Mountrail Cty. Bd. of Cty. Comm'rs" on Justia Law

by
William Rakowski appealed after a district court granted summary judgment in favor of the City of Fargo. Rakowski owned rental houses in Fargo. In November 2011, Fargo inspected one of the houses and found the garage was deteriorating, the siding on the house was deteriorating, two egress window wells were collapsing and one window was broken. Fargo notified Rakowski of the need for repairs and re-inspection. The house was re-inspected a month later, and three once a month, three months after that. Fargo charged Rakowski a single $100 fee for a January 2012 re-inspection, which Rakowski did not pay. Fargo brought a small claims action to collect the fee, Rakowski removed the claim to district court and both parties moved for summary judgment. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Fargo and Rakowski appeals. Rakowski argued the district court erred because Fargo did not have authority to assess a re-inspection fee, Fargo was required to have a search warrant before re-inspecting the house, the re-inspection fee constituted an illegal bill of attainder, Fargo's claim was barred by double jeopardy and res judicata and he was entitled to relief under 42 U.S.C. 1983. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "City of Fargo v. Rakowski" on Justia Law

by
In November 2012, the Sargent County Water Resource District filed a declaratory action regarding the ownership and control of property in Sargent County, including all property located south of the north boundary of Drain 11. The District claimed ownership as the successor in interest to the Sargent County Board of Drain Commissioners, which had obtained its interest in the property by right-of-way deeds signed in 1917 and 1918 and recorded in the Sargent County register of deeds office. The District sought declaratory relief because Paul Mathews sought to exert control over the property, claiming a property interest through his rental agreement with Phyllis Delahoyde and Nancy Mathews, the purported owners of the property. Nancy Mathews and Paul Mathews answered the complaint and raised a number of defenses and a counterclaim against the District (Delahoyde did not claim an interest in the disputed property, nor did she join the codefendants in the appeal). Nancy Mathews and Paul Mathews appealed the judgment determining language of the 1917 and 1918 deeds granted fee title in the disputed property to the District's predecessor. The Supreme Court reversed after review, concluding the plain language of the 1917 and 1918 right-of-way deeds at issue conveyed easements. View "Sargent County Water Resource District v. Mathews" on Justia Law

by
Robert Hale, doing business as Bullwinkle Builders, Inc., ("Hale") appealed a district court order affirming a City of Minot Board of Appeals decision to affirm the denial of Hale's application for a building permit. In December 2013, after a series of conversations and exchanges of information between the City's building official and Hale and his representatives, the building official denied the permit application for failure to submit certain required documentation. At issue was the building official's determination under the 2009 International Building Code ("IBC"), as adopted by the City, that Hale's facility was an "assisted living facility" classified as Institutional Group I-1, rather than an apartment building classified as Residential Group R-2. An applicant for a Institutional Group I-1 building permit was required to submit additional documentation prepared by a registered design professional and had to install more expensive wiring. The Supreme Court concluded after its review, that the Board did not act arbitrarily, capriciously, or unreasonably in affirming a City building official's decision to deny the application and that substantial evidence supports the Board's decision. The Court therefore affirmed the district court order. View "Hale v. City of Minot" on Justia Law

by
Thane and Nicole Dockter appealed a judgment affirming a Burleigh County Board of County Commissioners' decision to rezone a 311 acre tract of land in Menoken Township from agricultural to industrial use. In affirming the Commissioners' decision, the Supreme Court concluded the County Commissioners' decision did not constitute impermissible spot zoning, and the decision was not arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable and was supported by substantial evidence. View "Dockter v. Burleigh Cty. Bd. of Cty. Commn'rs" on Justia Law

by
Nandan, LLP, and Border States Paving, Inc., (collectively, "Border States") appealed a district court judgment dismissing its amended complaint against the City of Fargo for failing to state a claim on which relief could be granted. Nandan, LLP, and Border States Paving, Inc., owned real property in Fargo. In 2012, a landslide occurred along 32nd Street North adjacent to the industrial facility of Border States. According to a report, the landslide likely originated from a stockpile of granular material located on Border States' property. The landslide ruptured a water main and storm sewer, and damaged 32nd Street North and Drain No. 10. Drain No. 10 was owned, operated, and maintained by the Southeast Cass Water Resource District. Fargo owned the street, water main, and storm sewer. Border States received a notice from Fargo stating that it created "Improvement District 6237" to fund a portion of the local share of a project that would provide for drain, water main and sanitary sewer repairs on a portion of Drain No. 10. The notice indicated Fargo would contribute approximately $600,000 to the project, paid for through special assessments assessed to real property owners within the improvement district. The only real property within the improvement district to be assessed was owned by Border States. In September 2013, Border States sued Fargo to determine whether Fargo properly created Improvement District No. 6237. Border States' amended complaint sought relief asserting the improvement district was made without a resolution of necessity and without providing Border States adequate notice and depriving it of the right to protest the creation of the improvement district. Fargo moved to dismiss the amended complaint for failure to state a claim, and for judgment on the pleadings. Border States opposed Fargo's motion. The district court concluded Border States' amended complaint provided no right to relief under N.D.C.C. sections 40-22-06 and 40-22-15. After review, the Supreme Court affirmed the part of the district court judgment that concluded Border States had no right to relief against Fargo under N.D.C.C. 40-22-06, relating to when a resolution of necessity was required and the right of public protest arises under an agreement between a municipality and another entity. The Court reversed and remanded the part of the judgment concluding Border States had no right to relief under N.D.C.C. 40-22-15, relating to the requirements for resolutions declaring an improvement necessary, because viewing the allegations in the amended complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, the Court was not certain of the impossibility of proving a claim upon which relief can be granted. View "Nandan, LLP v. City of Fargo" on Justia Law