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LA Second Circuit Court Demands Support For Landowner’s Right Of Use

LA Second Circuit Court Demands Support For Landowner’s Right Of Use

The Court in WRW Properties, LLC v. City of Shreveport, 47, 657 (La. App. 2 Cir. 1/16/13), 112 So.3d 279,  used strong language in protecting a property owner’s right of use. The Honorable Judge Drew opens by stating: “this case is about a city council arbitrarily preventing a property owner from using its property exactly as zoned.” The Court maintains this language throughout the opinion and concludes that: “Replacing long-term rationality with short-term expedience, i.e., looking at each situation on a purely ad hoc political basis, is no way to run Mayberry, much less Shreveport…This arbitrary action of the Shreveport City Council is contrary to law and adverse to our basic precepts of equal protection and due process.”

Presumption of Right to Develop When Development Complies With Zoning

The Plaintiff, WRW Properties, LLC was requesting approval of a building site plan that conformed with all zoning regulations. The dispute in this case likely arose because WRW was zoned for “light industrial,” while an adjoining tract of land was zoned for residential purposes. At the council meeting, residents living on this adjoining tract raised issues regarding the construction plan, and as a result, the Shreveport City Council rejected WRW’s application for the building site plan. The Second Circuit Court of Appeal reversed the decision of the city council because WRW’s plan complied with all zoning requirements. Thus, the Court ruled favorably for the developer-owners by upholding a presumption of the right to use property when it complies with zoning law.

The Court explained that zoning ordinances must be construed in favor of the use proposed by the owner. D’Argent Properties, LLC v. City of Shreveport, 44,456 (La. App. 2 Cir. 6/24/09), 15 So.3d 334, 340. In fact, a use by right in compliance with the applicable zoning laws is presumptively valid and approved. Urban Housing of America v. City of Shreveport, 44, 874 (La. App. 2 Cir. 10/28/09), 26 So.3d 226, citing D’Argent Properties, 15 So.3d 334. Thus, the court reaffirmed its position that development is a matter of right as long as the property owners act in accordance with the relevant zoning ordinances.

Allen & Gooch is providing this legal update for informational purposes only. This article should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion as to any specific facts or circumstances. You should consult your own attorney concerning your particular situation and any specific legal questions you may have.