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Cleveland MHC, LLC v. City of Richland

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Docket Number: 2013-CA-00286-COA
Linked Case(s): 2013-CA-00286-COA ; 2013-CA-00286-COA ; 2013-CT-00286-SCT ; 2013-CT-00286-SCT ; 2013-CA-00286-COA

Court of Appeals: Opinion Link
Opinion Date: 08-19-2014
Opinion Author: Ishee, J.
Holding: Reversed and rendered.

Additional Case Information: Topic: Real property - Nonconforming-use ordinance - Mobile-home park - Right to enjoyment of property
Judge(s) Concurring: Lee, C.J., Irving, P.J., Barnes, Roberts, Carlton, Maxwell, Fair and James, JJ.
Dissenting Author : Griffis, P.J., Without Separate Written Opinion
Procedural History: Admin or Agency Judgment
Nature of the Case: CIVIL - OTHER

Trial Court: Date of Trial Judgment: 01-28-2013
Disposition: Upheld the zoning resolution as supported by substantial evidence, not arbitrary and capricious, and within the city of Richland's authority
Case Number: 2011-192

  Party Name: Attorney Name:   Brief(s) Available:
Appellant: Cleveland MHC, LLC

Appellee: City of Richland, Mississippi and Mayor & Board of Aldermen of the City of Richland JOSHUA J. WIENER  

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Topic: Real property - Nonconforming-use ordinance - Mobile-home park - Right to enjoyment of property

Summary of the Facts: The Cleveland Mobile Home Community began operating just outside of the City of Richland in the 1950s. The Community contains 138 concrete pads on which mobile homes can be placed and also contains space for seventeen campers or recreational vehicles. At some point, the Community was annexed by the City. At the time of the annexation, the Community was classified as an “I-1, Light Industrial Zoning” property. Under the City’s ordinances, industrial property may not be used for residential purposes. Since the Community rents spaces to mobile-home residents, the property is technically used for residential purposes, which is a nonconforming use of the land. Although the Community has been considered a nonconforming use of land containing mobile homes, the City has not enforced section 405 of the City’s ordinances until recently. In 2008, Cleveland Mobile Home Community purchased the property. Cleveland claims that it was assured by the City’s zoning administrator that it could continue moving mobile homes in and out of the Community without restriction. In 2011, the zoning administration informed Cleveland by written letter that section 405 would be enforced, and that new mobile homes would not be allowed to occupy empty spaces after existing mobile homes were removed. The Board approved a resolution stating: “In the event a mobile home or similar vehicle is removed from its then[-]present location in the Cleveland Mobile Home Park, another mobile home or similar vehicle shall not be placed on the vacated site.” Cleveland appealed to circuit court which affirmed. Cleveland appeals.

Summary of Opinion Analysis: Cleveland argues that the ordinance allows them to continue to use the land as a mobile-home park and that replacing mobile homes that are removed is not an impermissible expansion or extension of that use. Nonconforming-use ordinances are designed to protect the property owner by allowing him to continue to use the property as before, without allowing him to expand that use. The right to continue a nonconforming use is not a personal right but one that runs with the land. Other jurisdictions are in accord with the principles that, regarding mobile-home parks, the “nonconforming use” is properly defined as the park itself, and not individual lots within the park, and extending the life of a nonconforming use by replacing homes as they are moved does not constitute an improper extension of the use. Thus, the reasonable interpretation of the ordinance is to construe the nonconforming use to relate to the mobile-home park as a whole. As long as the park is operated as such, without expansion, it is a permitted use. The City’s resolution is arbitrary, capricious, and illegal, because it deprives the property owner of his constitutional right to enjoy his property. Therefore, the lower court judgment is reversed and rendered.

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