Urban Lawyer

Recent Developments in Comprehensive Planning Law

by Edward J. Sullivan & Jennifer M. Bragar

Edward J. Sullivan earned his B.A. at St. John’s University (N.Y.), 1966; J.D., Willamette University, 1969; M.A. (History), Portland State University, 1973; Urban Studies Certificate, Portland State University, 1974; M.A. (Political Thought), University of Durham; LL.M., University College, London, 1978; Diploma in Law, University College, Oxford, 1984.
Jennifer M. Bragar earned her B.A. at the University of California, Santa Cruz, 1998; J.D., Northwestern School of Law, Lewis and Clark College, 2007. The authors are indebted to Samantha Bayer, Lewis & Clark Law School, J.D. 2018, for the initial research in the preparation of this article.

I. Introduction

FOR MANY YEARS NOW, THE AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION SECTION ON STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT HAS REPORTED ON THE RELATIONSHIP OF COMPREHENSIVE PLANNING to land use regulations and actions. It is fair to say that there has been an increasing role of the plan in assessing the validity of those regulations and actions. In making this assessment, this report has divided judicial decisions regarding this relationship into three categories: 1) where the plan is not recognized as an independent criterion, 2) where the plan is a factor of some kind in that evaluation, and 3) where the plan is a constitution-like document, requiring conformity or consistency by those regulations or actions.

Much of the conflict and confusion arose with the formulation in 1924-1928 of the Standard Zoning Enabling Act (SZEA)1 by a “blue ribbon” advisory committee to the United States Department of Commerce, when Herbert Hoover was its Secretary. Section 3 of that legislation, which was proposed (but not mandated) for state legislative action, required that the new regulatory tool of zoning be “in accordance with a comprehensive plan.”2 The SZEA was enacted by about three-quarters of the states and the issue of the validity of zoning under the “in accordance” language arose on occasion. The circumstances of these challenges occurred in the absence of any separate planning document or a conflict between that document and the zoning regulations.

The earlier cases “saved” zoning by reading out a requirement for a separate referent from the zoning regulations themselves.3 The zoning map became the comprehensive plan, and thus was always in accordance with itself. Courts were far more comfortable in applying substantive due process concepts to determine whether a challenged rezoning was “arbitrary and capricious” or had no “substantial relationship with the public health, safety, morals and general welfare” which focused on a judicial evaluation of local government conduct in the case than a review of the evaluation of policy applied to concrete circumstances. Previous reports have termed the view that there was no need for a separate planning document as the “unitary” view.

The notion that the “in accordance” language was meaningless surplusage did not escape scholarly criticism. In a 1955 article, Professor Charles Haar called for recognition of a separate comprehensive plan to be used in evaluating land use regulations and actions.4 In 1976, Professor Daniel Mandelker made a similarly compelling case in another scholarly article.5

Among other states, California6 and Hawai’i7 enacted statutes that specifically provided for a planning document separate from zoning or other land use regulations and provided as well for consistency of those regulations with the plan. As a result, plan consistency or conformity became a separate manner of reviewing the relationship of the plan with land use regulations and actions. Other states, which had adopted the SZEA or similar legislation, departed from the notion that the comprehensive plan requirement was satisfied in the zoning regulations and found that a plan, if it existed, had some significance in the evaluation of validity for land use regulations and actions. This article continues that evaluation by looking at cases on the comprehensive plan decided over the past year.

II. The Unitary View

In Benson v. Knox County, a zone change for 112 acres from Agriculture to Planned-Residential was affirmed by the Tennessee Court of Appeals.8 The opposition challenged whether the county had complied with state law that required that land use decisions made by the legislative body after adoption of a general regional plan must be consistent with the plan.9 They also raised concerns about the treatment of access, and the inclusion of sloped lands in the buildable lands calculation required under the plan policies.10 The court found that there was consistency with the general plan because a landlocked parcel is entitled to a condemnation proceeding to provide access to a public road, and the plan policies for development on sloped properties are only advisory in nature.11 The court concluded that the local decision was consistent with the general plan, and therefore, in compliance with state law.12

As in years past, Connecticut leads the way in cases supporting a “Unitary View” that does not require or use a separate plan, but refers exclusively to zoning regulations as evidence of the plan.13 In Weed v. Town of New Canaan, a variance was affirmed because a variance that does not substantially affect the comprehensive plan, which is stated in the zoning regulations themselves and does not cause unusual hardship unnecessary to the carrying out of the general purpose of the zoning plan, is allowed.14

A Vermont court upheld changes to a municipality’s zoning bylaws where municipalities have broad authority to regulate land development in any manner established by those bylaws.15 The court determined that although a general plan may recommend many desirable approaches to municipal development, only those provisions incorporated in the bylaws are legally enforceable.16

In Louisiana, the appellate court considered an injunction to halt permits under a zoning ordinance that a neighborhood believed to be out of compliance with due process procedures.17 Although unsuccessful in the injunction phase, the court signaled that the case would likely succeed on the merits. Only through the public hearing process before the planning commission could the City of New Orleans show that the regulations complied with state law requiring that amendments to regulations in the zoning code be made in accordance with the comprehensive plan.18

In conclusion, it appears that most of the cases in which the plan is not a factor arise out of, as in the past, a construction that the “in accordance” language refers to the zoning ordinance. The Benson case is a powerful reminder of the pull of an historical interpretation of that language that is still influential, even when state law requires consistency with the plan.

III. Planning Factor Cases

Those cases in which the plan is a factor in land use decisions comprise the largest block of decisions over the past year, running the gamut of circumstances. In an unreported Illinois case, Hanlon v. Village of Clarendon Hills,19 the Illinois Court of Appeals upheld a planned unit development grant under its multi-factor test against a claim that the Village had acted arbitrarily and unreasonably by repeated citations to the policies of the Village’s Master Plan.20

In an unreported Kentucky case, Huxol v. Davies County Fiscal Court,21 neighbors challenged the rezoning of agricultural land to accommodate coal mining. The appellate court affirmed the grant of the rezoning as in accord with the local comprehensive plan, but added that the use need not conform to everything contained in the plan.22

In an interesting Louisiana federal district court case, Petroplex International v. St. James Parish,23 Plaintiff challenged Defendant County’s omission of “tank farms” from the zoning ordinance it crafted via its draft comprehensive plan. Plaintiffs alleged a violation of state law inter alia by Defendant relying on a master plan to implement a jurisdiction-wide zoning ordinance. In granting summary judgment to Defendant County, the court added:

Though Plaintiffs may disagree with Defendants’ response to the facts outlined in the comprehensive plan, the Court cannot find that this response was devoid of any conceivable rational basis. Plaintiffs’ [sic] argue that the Land Use Ordinance is arbitrary and capricious because it violates state law; however, this is precisely the type of challenge that this Court may not consider in federal constitutional analysis. Accordingly, Plaintiffs’ claims challenging the validity of the Land Use Ordinance based on federal substantive due process provisions are dismissed with prejudice. [Footnote omitted]24

In a Mississippi case involving a rezoning denial, Little v. City of Ocean Springs,25 the court affirmed notwithstanding a claim of plan conformity, as the overall decision was “fairly debatable.”26 A similar deference to local findings occurred in Davidson County Broadcasting Company, Inc. v. Iredell County,27 where the denial of a special use permit for a broadcasting tower was affirmed. The local regulations required, inter alia, that the proposed use be “in harmony with the area in which it is located” and in “general conformity” with the county land use and developmental plan. Plaintiff argued that listing of the use as a potential special exception demonstrated that the “harmony” standard was met and the plan was irrelevant to that issue.28 The court concluded the plan was an advisory instrument to be consulted in special use proceedings and could be a basis for denial.29

A recent Rhode Island appellate case, Kenlin Properties, LLC v. City of East Providence, involved the appeal of an enforcement order for violation of a use variance.30 In determining that the zoning board of review had authority to consider a range of evidence in the public record approving the variance, the court ruled that the zoning board may apply conditions to promote the intent and purposes of the comprehensive plan and zoning ordinance because a use variance is inimical to a comprehensive zoning regime.31 The variance allows a real estate owner to use his or her property in a manner otherwise prohibited by the zoning regulations and is a constitutional safeguard to prevent confiscation of one’s property.32

Finally, a Vermont case, In re Waterfront Park Act 250 Amendment,33 involved neighbor’s objections to a City of Burlington proposal to amend its state planning permit for a public park so as to increase its use activities consistent with its “PlanBTV” which set a policy of maximizing the use of parks under certain conditions. The District Environmental Commission, which administers portions of that state’s environmental and planning regulations, applied factors including the furtherance of the goals and objectives of duly adopted municipal plans and affirmed the City’s actions.34

IV. The Plan as an Impermanent Constitution

In Washington, a case that has been in litigation since 2001 once again reached the appellate level, where the court ruled that designation of agricultural lands of long-t erm commercial significance (or agricultural resource lands, “ARL”) was once again flawed.35 The court concluded that the criteria for designating lands, including a point system, was consistent with Ferry County’s comprehensive plan and the state’s Growth Management Act (GMA), but that the designation of ARL was inconsistent with those criteria.36

Opponents to the designation complained that awarding zero points to parcels one quarter mile or less from areas of intense rural development failed to implement the comprehensive plan.37 But the court determined that even if no points were awarded under this criterion, the system does not prevent a parcel from being designated under the remaining criteria.38 In addition, a 500-acre minimum block size was found consistent with the comprehensive plan because it was the minimum block that would prevent scattered agricultural lands.39

Nonetheless, the court ruled that the county designated too few acres as ARL and failed to comply with the goals and purposes of the comprehensive plan and GMA. The comprehensive plan adopted goals and policies consistent with the state mandate to maintain and enhance agricultural industries, and emphasized the county’s need to maintain a critical mass of ARL for present and future use.40 The county’s failure to designate any of the over 2,816 acres that qualified as ARL under the points system violated the comprehensive plan goals by failing to provide sufficient “critical mass” to assure the viability of the agricultural industry over the long term.41 The court warned that adding the 2,816 acres ARL designated lands may still not comply with the GMA and the case is likely to continue through another iteration.42

In Florida, an appellate court reversed and remanded the approval of the Florida State Siting Board to allow construction and operation of two nuclear generating units because the decision was inconsistent with the local comprehensive plan and land development regulations.43 The Siting Board incorrectly concluded that local regulations did not apply when the state energy siting criteria explicitly require consistency with local land use regulations.44 In a Washington D.C. case a planned unit development was considered for a third time after a second remand for inadequate findings.45 The court explained that it will generally defer to a commission’s interpretation of the zoning regulations and their relationship to the comprehensive plan, unless the interpretation is unreasonable or contrary to the applicable provisions.46 Surprisingly, the court set-aside the decision and denied the application because the commission had failed to justify a conclusion that the resulting development would be a moderate-density use and a third remand was not requested by the parties.47

V. Plan Adoption and Amendments

It should not be surprising that there is a correlation between states where the case law categorizes the plan as a quasi-constitutional document and cases where there is litigation over the adoption or amendment of a plan. If a plan is a meaningful legal document, its adoption or change will have significant land use consequences, as the cases for the past year demonstrate. In addition, a surprising case out of Ohio highlights that controversy over plan amendments arise even where the plan is not given as much reverence.

A Florida appellate court considered the tension between the state’s Bert Harris Act, which offers compensation to property owners when an existing use of the owner’s property or a vested right to a specific use of real property is “inordinately burdened” by a new governmental regulation, and the state’s Growth Management Act (“GMA”), which mandates the adoption of local comprehensive plans.48 The court held that settlement agreements under the Bert Harris Act that would effectively act as amendments to the comprehensive plan are required to ensure that the public interests served by the GMA are still protected.49 Bert Harris Act settlement agreements must be confirmed by a circuit court.50 The court cautioned that there may be cases where the public interests protected by the GMA can only be protected with a circuit court order that requires the local government to process a comprehensive plan amendment through the ordinary process, before implementation of a settlement agreement.51

In Washington, comprehensive plan amendments are presumed valid upon adoption.52 However, where amendments would allow multi-family housing in close proximity to the Fairchild Air Force Base, the plaintiffs were able to overcome that presumption because the ordinances adopted by the City were in conflict with the statutory requirements that development not be incompatible with the military installation’s ability to carry out its mission requirements and future mission needs.53

In The Center for Powell Crossing, LLC v. City of Powell, Ohio residents took to the initiative process to adopt charter amendments that required a commission of five private citizens to draft a new comprehensive development plan that, at a minimum, would prohibit highdensity housing in the downtown business district and would prohibit a mixed use development already approved by City Council.54 The applicant for the prohibited development brought suit in U.S. District Court and obtained a permanent injunction against the enforcement of the charter amendments because the amendments violated its due process as to one of its state constitutional claims.55

The court concluded that the charter amendments resulted in an unlawful delegation of legislative authority by appointing a private citizen group to draft and recommend approval of a new comprehensive plan without discernible standards to guide the private parties’ discretion.56 While the court recognized that, in Ohio, the term “comprehensive plan” sometimes refers to a non-binding, general set of objectives for future development, here the charter amendments mandates that the private citizen plan ultimately be “legislatively adopted” by City Council and that all zoning ordinances must comply with the new plan.57 Thus, the new plan carries the binding effect of law.58 Ultimately, the court ruled that the offending delegation of legislative authority could be severed from the charter amendments and the remainder of the amendment saved.59 The result was removal of the requirement for a new comprehensive plan, but the court upheld the prohibition of high-density housing on the applicant’s parcel finding that the electorate’s intent was clear that no apartments be allowed on the subject property.60

VI. Plan Interpretation

Both cases relating to plan interpretation are unreported, but intriguing. In Williams v. Oldham County Board of Adjustments and Appeals,61 plaintiff appealed from the denial of a conditional use permit for a wildlife rehabilitation facility on property zoned for agricultural and conservation uses. They sought to take advantage of a statute62 that allowed for the issuance of such a permit for a use not specifically listed. The County Ordinance required, inter alia, that the use not be in conflict with the elements and objectives of its comprehensive plan.63 Plaintiffs cited plan policies that promoted and protected wildlife habitat, but the court noted the subject area was residential in character and concluded:

[W]hile the Williams are technically correct that wildlife rehabilitation is not in direct conflict with the intent of the comprehensive plan, it is neither compatible with the surrounding land uses nor general character of the area, namely a residential development.64

The court upheld the denial and the County’s determination that granting the request would not be consistent with the general direction of the local plan.

In 121 Varick Street Corp. v. Board of Standards and Appeals,65 Plaintiff appealed the revocation of a sign permit because such signs were prohibited within a certain distance of an arterial highway. Plaintiff claimed the subject site, an approach to the Holland Tunnel, was not designated on the City’s Master Plan of Arterial Highways and Principle Streets and thus the prohibition could not apply. The Court found the Master Plan was “macroscopic and schematic in nature” and Defendant reasonably found that the tunnel approach was contained on the plan designation for the Holland Tunnel on the plan map.66

VII. Conclusion

As in recent years, the cases that had previously adhered to the unitary view now appear to be moving in the direction of determining that the plan is at least a factor in the validity of land use regulations and actions. Indeed, the third alternative, that of finding the plan to be a quasi-constitutional document largely by legislative action, provides the second largest number of cases during this period. As the plan grows in importance, more judicial attention is now given to the process and standards by which plan amendments are undertaken, as well as in the interpretation of plans. All of this bodes well for the direction of planning law towards rationality.

  2. Id. § 3.
  3. See generally Kozesnik v. Twp. of Montgomery, 131 A.2d 1 (N.J. 1957).
  4. See Charles M. Haar, “In Accordance with a Comprehensive Plan,” 68 Harv. L. Rev. 1154, 1167-70 (1955).
  5. See generally Daniel R. Mandelker, The Role of the Comprehensive Plan in the Zoning Process, 74 Mich. L. Rev. 899 (1976).
  6. See CAL. GOV’T CODE § 65860 (West 1998).
  7. HAW. REV. STAT. § 226-1 (2016).
  8. Benson v. Knox Cty., No. E201501357COAR3CV, 2016 WL 2866534, at *10 (Tenn. Ct. App. May 12, 2016). But see Riniker v. Dubuque Cty Bd. Supervisors, 884 N.W.2d 223 (Table) (Iowa Ct. App. 2016) (affirming a denial on a rezone application from agriculture to agricultural residential because the rezone was contrary to the intent of the zoning ordinance).
  9. Benson v. Knox Cty., 2016 WL 2866534, at *6.
  10. Id.
  11. Id. at *7-8
  12. Id. at *9.
  13. In a zone change case, the zone change must be in accordance with the municipality’s comprehensive plan—which consists of its zoning regulations and its zoning map. Marzziotti v. Plan & Zoning Com’n Fairfield, No. CV146046934S, 2016 WL 1099194, at *5 (Conn. Super. Ct. Feb. 19, 2016). The Master (comprehensive) Plan does not bind or control the elected body in its legislative determination to enact a zone change. Marzziotti v. Plan & Zoning Comm’n Fairfield, 2016 WL 1099194, at *9. In 78 Olive St. Partners, LLC v. City of New Haven Bd. Alders, a finding that a zone change was in accord with the comprehensive plan and was for the good of the community as a whole withstood a spot zoning challenge. No. CV146050230S, 2016 WL 3179433 at *26, *29 (Conn. Super. Ct. May 12, 2016); see also Comm. to Preserve Hist. Chautauqua Amphitheater v. Bd. Of Trustees, 51 Misc. 3d 729, 734 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2016) (construction of a new amphitheater instead of preservation was in accord with a well-considered, comprehensive plan for the benefit of the community as a whole).
  14. No. FSTCV136018486S, 2016 WL 1728197, at *8-9 (Conn. Super. Ct. April, 11, 2016). In another variance case, the court upheld a variance as consistent with the general plan, which includes the zoning regulations and the zoning map, because the plan does not seem to be primarily concerned with second floor activity such as the proposed office use. St. Retail, Inc. v. Zoning Bd. of Appeals Greenwich, No. FSTCV146022943S, 2015 WL 8487853, at *8-9 (Conn. Super. Ct. Nov. 12, 2015); see also A Piece of Paradise, LLC v. Borough of Fenwick Zoning Bd. of Appeals, No. LNDCV136047679S, 2015 WL 10285888, at *8-9 (Conn. Super. Ct. Dec. 23, 2015) (a variance was denied in part because of the negative affect of unpermitted dune development that was contrary to the comprehensive plan policies protecting coastal resources); see also Kneip v. Zoning Bd. of Appeals for East Hartford, No. LNDCV146055533, 2016 WL 3085286, at *6 (Conn. Super. Ct. April 28, 2016) (variance was denied for a catering business that served alcohol in a residential zone because the variance would substantially affect the comprehensive zoning plan).
    In another case involving a special use permit for an adult store, a local recording deadline for a prior approval was upheld as a valid local regulation because failure to record a special use permit approval could undermine the overriding objectives of the zoning laws, community uniformity and compliance with comprehensive plans of development. See 848, LLC v. Zoning Bd. of Appeals of West Haven, No. NNHCV156055150S, 2016 WL 3452145, at *4 (Conn. Super. Ct. June 6, 2016).
  15. See In re Moody Subdivision Appeal, No. 2015-341, 2016 WL 562914, at *1-2 (Vt. Feb. 11, 2015). In Maryland, a court upheld a conditional use approval for a truck stop where the elected body has the fact-finding duty to determine whether the proposal will have an adverse effect on the operation of the comprehensive plan. 2003 Mason Dixon, LLC v. Loves Travel Stops & Country Stores, Inc., No. 1040, 2015 WL 7076138, at *8 (Md. Ct. App. Nov. 12, 2015).
  16. In re Moody Subdivision Appeal, 2016 WL 562914, at *2.
  17. Faubourg Marigny Improvement Ass’n, Inc. v. City of New Orleans, 195 So.3d 606, 609 (La. Ct. App. 2016).
  18. Id. at 622. The local zoning code also required such hearing before the Planning Commission for any changes sought by the City Council, to enable the Planning Commission to make a recommendation regarding changes sought by the City Council. Id.
  19. Hanlon v. Village of Clarendon Hills, No. 2-15-1233, 2016 Ill. App. LEXIS 1818, at *1 (Ill. App. Ct. Aug. 31, 2016), appeal denied, 65 N.E.3d 840 (Ill. 2016).
  20. Id. The Master Plan was especially useful in dealing with the factor of the Village’s need for the proposed use. See Clarksville Residents Against Mortuary Def. Fund, Inc. v. Donaldson Properties, No. 1762, 2016 WL 3961236, at *1 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. July 20, 2016) (holding County Boards of Appeals are required to “consider” certain factors, including harmony with its general plan). See also Greater Boston Chinese Cultural Ass’n, Inc. v. Board of Aldermen of Newton, No. 15-P-1336, 2016 Mass. App. LEXIS 854, at *13 (Mass. App. Ct. Aug. 29, 2016) (holding that the proposed use was in “harmony with the general purpose and intent of the [ordinance]”).
  21. Huxol v. Davies Cty. Fiscal Ct., 507 S.W.3d 574, 579 (Ky. Ct. App. 2016).
  22. Id. (“However, in determining whether a zone map amendment agrees with the comprehensive plan zoning agencies are not required to follow every land use detail set forth in the comprehensive plan. Zoning agencies may instead base their decision on particular land use details and ignore others, as long as those relied upon are supported by substantial evidence.”). See also Sansbury v. City Council Hillview, NO. 2013-CA-001660-MR, 2014 WL 6878925, at *4 (Ky. Ct. App. Dec. 5, 2014). Note that the same statute requiring agreement with the plan could be met alternatively if the local government finds the existing designation “inappropriate.” KY. REV. STAT. ANN. § 100.213 (West 1966).
  23. Petroplex Int’l v. St. James Parish, 158 F. Supp. 3d 537 (E.D. La. 2016).
  24. Id. at 542-43. In a state court case, St. Tammany Parish Gov’t v. Welsh, 199 So. 3d 3, 12 (La. Ct. App. 2016), the Louisiana Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling that a state agency “consider” its plan as not requiring that the agency follow that plan.
  25. Little v. City of Ocean Springs, 194 So. 3d 209 (Miss. Ct. App. 2016).
  26. Id. at 212-213. Two unreported Minnesota Court of Appeals cases came to similar conclusions. In Gayl v. City of Rosemount, No. A16-0046, 2016 WL 4162873, at *1 (Minn. Ct. App. Aug. 8, 2016), a challenge to a Planned Unit Development approval consistent with the density provisions of a city comprehensive plan was rejected, while in Continental Property Group, LLC v. City of Wayzata, No. A15-1550, 2016 WL 1551693, at *1, *6 (Minn. Ct. App. April 18, 2016), a denial of a Planned Unit Development and variance for plan inconsistency was upheld. Three unreported Pennsylvania cases are also relevant. In Heiko v. Philadelphia Zoning Bd. of Adjustment, No. 1722 C.D.2014, 2015 WL 6600572, at *2 (Pa. Commw. Ct. Oct. 30, 2015), the appellate court reversed a lower court decision affirming the grant of a use variance, allegedly in conformity with the local plan on other grounds. In Bermer v. Montour Twp. Zoning Hearing Bd., No. 881 C.D.2015, 2016 WL 464225, at *9 (Pa. Commw. Ct. Feb. 8, 2016) failure to explain how the use was “in accordance with the [local] Comprehensive Plan” required a remand to do so. In Pennsy Supply Inc. v. Zoning Hearing Bd. of Silver Spring Twp., No. 334 C.D.2015, 2015 WL 6474417, at *15 (Pa. Commw. Ct. Oct. 15, 2015), failure to submit the local comprehensive plan to the Board to determine whether it complied with it constituted prohibited “spot zoning.”
  27. Davidson Cty. Broadcasting Co., Inc. v. Iredell Cty., 790 S.E.2d 663 (N.C. Ct. App. 2016).
  28. Id. at 669.
  29. Id. at 669-70. On the other hand, an unreported Ohio Court of Appeals decision, Kareem v. City of Toledo, No. L-16-1057, 2016 WL 4724605, at *2, *3 (Ohio Ct. App. Sept. 9, 2016) reversed a denial of a special use permit under a preponderance of the evidence standard in the face of evidence of compliance with the local plan and zoning and other relevant codes. In another unreported Ohio case filed to enforce a covenant restricting the use of the parties’ property to residential use, the court upheld the covenant despite the fact that the property had been annexed into a nearby city and re-zoned for commercial use. Stephan v. State, No. 2015-CA-15, 2015 WL 6603378, at *15, *17 (Ohio Ct. App., Oct. 30, 2015). The fact that the city’s 2007 comprehensive plan contemplated redevelopment of the lots for commercial usage did not sway the court because the restrictive covenant was still of value to the remaining lot owners affected by the covenant. Stephen, 2015 WL 6603378, *4, *15.
  30. Kenlin Props., LLC v. City of East Providence, 139 A.3d 491, 493-94 (R.I. 2016).
  31. Id. at 500.
  32. Id. at 503.
  33. In re Waterfront Park Act 250 Amendment, 146 A.3d 334 (R.I. 2016).
  34. The court noted the city’s plans for maximizing the use of the park at issue for festivals and special events and added:
    The fact that the property in question is publicly owned, and is dedicated to public use, further enhances the weight assigned to this factor. Id. at 342.
  35. Concerned Friends of Ferry Cty. v. Ferry Cty., 365 P.3d 207, 220-23 (Wash. Ct. App. 2015).
  36. Id. at 223.
  37. Id. at 216.
  38. Id. The court also considered other criteria including soil classification, proximity to the urban growth boundary, predominant farm size, proximity to markets, and the history of nearby land uses. Id. at 217-219. The predominant farm size was found consistent with the plan because in counting only properties owned by farm operators, it removed the insecurity of those farms that were only subject to leases and this was consistent with the comprehensive plan purpose to prevent scattered farmland. Id. at 217-18.
  39. Id. at 219-20.
  40. Id. at 221.
  41. Id. at 222.
  42. Id. at 223.
  43. Miami-Dade Cty. v. Florida Power & Light Co., 208 So. 3d 111, 111 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2016); see also Realty Associates Fund IX, L.P. v. Town of Cutler Bay, 208 So. 3d 735, 735 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2016) (trial court’s order of dismissal reversed because site plan for a shopping center was inconsistent with comprehensive plan requiring the project to include residential uses).
  44. Miami-Dade Cty., 208 So.3d at 4. But, in Colorado approval of a greenhouse in the Black Forest Preservation Plan area was affirmed where the local preservation plan, a master plan, was not expressly incorporated into the county’s adopted subdivision, zoning or other land use regulations. Friends of the Black Forest Preservation Plan, Inc. v. Bd. of Cty. Comm’rs El Paso Cty., 381 P.3d 396 (Colo. Ct. App. 2016). Although consistency with the development code is required, the policy plan for the preservation area is only advisory in nature.
  45. Durant v. District of Columbia Zoning Comm’n, 139 A.3d 880, 882 (D.C. Cir. 2016).
  46. Id. at 883. But see, Coastal Hills Rural Preservation v. Cty. of Sanoma, 2 Cal. App. 5th 1234, 1248-51 (Cal. Dist. Ct. App. 2016) (where the court would not reweigh conflicting evidence and the county’s consistency findings were affirmed).
  47. Durant, 139 A.3d at 884.
  48. Rainbow River Conservation, Inc. v. Rainbow River Ranch, LLC, 189 So. 3d 312, 313 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2016); Cf. Edward Sullivan & Jennifer Bragar, The Augean Stables: Measure 49 and the Herculean Task of Correcting an Improvident Initiative Measure in Oregon, 46 WILLAMETTE L. REV. 577 (2010) (discussing Oregon’s Measure 37/Measure49 construct).
  49. Rainbow River Conservation, Inc., 189 So.3d at 315.
  50. Id. at 316.
  51. Id.
  52. WASH. REV. CODE ANN. § 36.70.320(1) (West 2017); see also, City of Airway Heights v. Eastern Washington Growth Mgmt. Hearings Bd., 376 P.3d 1112, 1122 (Wash Ct. App. 2016); Coyne v. Growth Mgmt. Hearings Board, 195 Wash. App. 1057, 1057 (Ct. App. Wa, 2016) (In West Richland, the City was given deference on its balancing and weighing of various goals and policies in the plan to find that relabeling the planning map for the properties at issue from residential to commercial was consistent with the plan as a whole); Zimmerman v. Land Conservation and Dev. Comm’n., 361 P.3d 619, 626 (Or. Ct. App. 2015) (the court upheld an urban growth boundary expansion and resulting amendments to its comprehensive plan policies because the decision was supported by substantial evidence in the record and Petitioner was unable to show LCDC’s decision was unlawful in substance.).
  53. City of Airway Heights, 376 P.3d at 1123.
  54. The Center for Powell Crossing, LLC v. City of Powell, 173 F. Supp. 3d 639, 648 (S.D. Ohio 2016).
  55. Id.
  56. Id. at 675-76. The charter amendments set only the vaguest of parameters for the private citizen committee’s fact finding. Id. at 678.
  57. Id. at 677.
  58. Id.
  59. Id. at 687.

  60. Id.
  61. Williams v. Oldham Cnty. Bd. of Adjustments & Appeals, No. 2013-CA-000999-MR, 2016 WL 1069119, at *1 (Ky. Ct. App. 2016).
  62. KY. REV. STAT. ANN. § 100.111 (6)-(7) (West 2017).
  63. OLDHAM CTY., ZONING ORD. div. 260, § 260-010 (1991).
  64. Williams v. Oldham Cty. Bd. of Adjustments & Appeals, WL 1069119 at *5 (Ky. Ct. App. 2016).
  65. 121 Varick St. Corp. v. Bd. of Standards & Appeals, No. 101707/15, 2016 WL 734351, at *1 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2016).
  66. Id. at *6.