Author Archive

New Case Summary–Alpine Homes v. West Jordan

Posted on: October 24th, 2017 by jcullimore

Several real estate developers sued the City of West Jordan alleging the City violated the Utah Impact Fees Act by failing to spend fees collected from the developers on specified categories of expenditures within six years. The developers sought to have misspent or unspent fees refunded because the violation either constituted an unconstitutional taking or created entitlement to a refund under a claim in equity.

The court considered the threshold question of whether the developers had standing to bring the claims in the first place. The court concluded that the developers only had standing to challenge the constitutionality of the fee the City initially assessed, which the developers failed to do within the statutorily allotted one-year period after initial payment of the fee.

The court further held that the developers did not possess standing to the extent they sought a refund of fees in equity for the asserted injury related to illegally misspent or unspent fees. The court concluded that the city was authorized by the Impact Fees Act to assess impact fees to offset expected costs of development in certain areas, and that the developers were not injured as long as the initial assessment of the fees survived a takings challenge. Once the fees had been assessed, the developers no longer possessed an interest in ensuring the fees were spent in accordance with state law. The court determined that the only expectation the developers could reasonably have for paying the constitutionally levied impact fees was approval for their development, which they received. Any ongoing interest in how the fees were spent belonged to the existing lot owners, which were homeowners and residents of the city.

New Case Summary–Specht v. Big Water Town

Posted on: May 10th, 2017 by jcullimore

Utah Court of Appeals

May 4, 2017

2017 UT App 75 (Click for text of opinion)

The Utah Court of Appeals upheld the land use variance and road vacation by Big Water Town. The record included findings and substantial evidence sufficient to support the variance, and the complainant lacked standing to contest the vacation.

The Hydes own two adjacent lots on the Rose Garden cul-de-sac. To enable installation of a septic tank on one of the lots, the Hydes applied for a land use variance to reduce the rear yard setback from twenty feet to ten feet. The Hydes also applied for a vacation of a portion of the cul-de-sac, in order to reduce the slope needed to access their lot.  The Town Council approved the variance and the vacation. Their neighbor, Mr. Specht, appealed.

Although Specht argued that the Town failed to meet the legislative conditions, the court concluded that the evidence in the record was sufficient to support the variance granted by the Town. The court also concluded that Specht did not have standing for his claim opposing the vacation of the cul-de-sac because he could not show a direct special injury, beyond mere inconvenience or injury to the public in general. Moreover, he suffered no harm due to the alleged lack of notice, because he attended and fully participated in the public hearings.