Constitutional Law Zoning, Planning & Land Use

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A Distinction without a Difference

On April 8, 2016, we posted a blog regarding the case of Quality Built Homes, Inc. v. Town of Carthage, ___N.C. App. ___, 766 S.E. 2d 897 (2015)(unpublished). In this case, the Court of Appeals had held that the Town of...more

Buddhist Meditation Center Sues Mobile, AL

The Thai Meditation Association of Alabama and several individual plaintiffs (the “Center”) have filed suit against the City of Mobile, Alabama, its  Planning Commission, and City Council (“Mobile”) after the Center was...more

California Supreme Court Salvages Precondemnation Entry Statute by Reforming to Include Right to Jury

It is not often that the California Supreme Court steps in to reform legislation that would otherwise be unconstitutional, but that’s what it did in Property Reserve, Inc. v. Superior Court (S.Ct. No. S217738), issued July...more

Greater Flexibility in Challenging Pipeline Takings

The standards contained in the Uniform Condemnation Procedures Act allow greater flexibility to trial judges when evaluating the necessity of a pipeline taking than other takings. Since initially writing this post, as a...more

Hundreds Erupt in Elation After Sterling Heights Mosque Denial

In the RLUIPA Round-Up post, we noted that the City of Sterling Heights, Michigan, is facing a federal lawsuit following its denial of the American Islamic Community Center’s (Center) zoning application to build a 20,500...more

How to Negotiate a Right of Entry After Property Reserve

Last month, the California Supreme Court’s decision in Property Reserve v. Superior Court provided long-awaited certainty for public agencies after a court of appeal determined the often-used “right of entry” statutes failed...more

Loophole Allowing Adverse Possession Claims Against Municiplalities Closed

New legislation has been enacted overruling the Waisanen v. Superior Township case that allowed adverse possession claims against municipal property owners. In this blog post, I described the decision in Waisanen v....more

Religious Institutions Update: August 2016

When was the last time your organization reviewed your insurance policies? Not all policies are equal. Many religious organizations are underinsured. Most should have general liability, property, professional liability,...more

In A Condemnation Case, The Judge – Not Jury – Decides If A Dedication Requirement Meets Constitutional Muster

In its second major eminent domain opinion in as many months, the California Supreme Court in City of Perris v. Richard C. Stamper (S.Ct. No. S213468), issued on August 15, 2016, deals with two issues: First, is it the role...more

Judge Should Consider Constitutionality of a Dedication Requirement, Not the Jury

Every year or so, a new appellate court decision comes out addressing the proper role of the judge versus the jury on some certain eminent domain issue. Most recently, a trial court, appellate court and the California Supreme...more

The Arbitrary and Capricious Standard Remains Deferential: The Corps’ Nationwide Permit 21 Survives Review

Late last week, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected challenges to the Army Corps’ Nationwide Permit 21, which allows small surface mining projects to proceed without individual permits under § 404. ...more

RLUIPA Round-Up

We noted in our previous post that the U.S. Department of Justice, in its latest report, has stated that one of the biggest trends in religious land use disputes since 2010 has been the drastic increase in disputes involving...more

California Federal Court: Is Leasing to a Church Religious Exercise?

The Scinto Foundation (Foundation) supports religious organizations “by having activities which are similar to [religious activities] and/or by giving them money, or donating services ….” The Foundation sued the City of...more

The Olympics’ Secret Use of Eminent Domain

It’s an exciting time with the Olympics taking place in Rio De Janeiro. But what takes place before the Olympics ever gets off the ground involves years of planning, lobbying, and infrastructure development. That...more

Landowner’s Guide to Condemnation in South Carolina - The Government Wants Your Land…What Are Your Rights?

Government projects to build or expand roadways, erect public buildings, and install infrastructure, such as sewer, water and electrical lines, all require land. So long as building projects meet certain requirements,...more

Federal Court Rules Alabama Sex Offender Law is “Land Use Regulation” Under RLUIPA

We previously reported on the case Martin v. Houston (M.D. Alabama 2016), in which the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama considered a pastor’s religious discrimination claims involving the state...more

Enacting and Enforcing Local Ordinances to Prohibit Medical Marijuana Dispensaries – Up in Smoke?

California’s cities and counties have a long and growing track record successfully defending challenges to their land use authority filed on behalf of medical marijuana dispensaries. These successes are largely a product of...more

Alameda Fracking Ban: All Bark with No Bite

On July 19, 2016, Alameda County, California (“County”) became the first county in the Bay Area to approve a ban on hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”). The County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the ban through...more

California Supreme Court Upholds Right of Entry Statutes, but "Reforms" them to Comply with Constitution

When public agencies analyze a potential public project, they often need to gain access to private property for surveys, testing, and to otherwise investigate whether a particular property is suitable for a planned project. ...more

Massachusetts Church Alleges Solar Panel Denial Violates Religious Freedom

A Massachusetts Superior Court is soon to consider the interplay of three important planning principles – historic preservation, sustainable development, and freedom of religion. A Unitarian Universalist church is suing the...more

U.S. Department of Justice Issues RLUIPA Report

The Department of Justice (DOJ) released a new report on its involvement in RLUIPA cases.  The report, “Update on the Justice Department’s Enforcement of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act: 2010-2016,”...more

Department of Justice Sues Bensalem Township, PA Over Mosque Denial

On July 21, the United States Department of Justice sued Bensalem Township, Pennsylvania, in federal court alleging violations of each of RLUIPA’s provisions following the Township’s 2014 denial of a variance application...more

California’s Precondemnation Right of Entry Statutes Upheld — With a Slight Judicial Tweak

For the last two-plus years, we have been waiting for guidance from the California Supreme Court on whether public agencies could utilize the statutory “right of entry” procedure to gain access to private property to conduct...more

Sikh Temple files suit after Oyster Bay, NY ordered it to stop work and then required SEQRA review

Guru Gobind Singh Sikh Center, Inc. (the “Temple”), on June 29, 2016 in the Eastern District of New York, sued the Town of Oyster Bay, New York, the Town Board, and several Town Officials (together, the “Defendants”) after...more

Michigan Township Prevails on Federal Religious Discrimination Claims

A federal court in Michigan has ruled that Genoa Charter Township did not violate federal law in denying a church’s application for a special use permit to operate a religious school. Livingston Christian Schools (LSC)...more

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