Brief Fact Summary. In this case Respondent sought to have a parcel of property rezoned from “light industrial” to permit the construction of a high-rise multi-family apartment building. The application for rezoning was in the process of approval when the voters of the City of Eastlake amended the city charter to require land use changes to be ratified by 55% of the voters to become effective.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. As a basic instrument of democratic government, the referendum process does not, in itself, violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment when applied to a rezoning ordinance.
The sovereignty of the people is itself subject to those constitutional limitations which have been duly adopted and remain unrepealed.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Does the city charter provision requiring proposed land use changes to be ratified by 55% of the voters violate the due process rights of a landowner who applies for a zoning change?
Held. No. Reversed.
The referendum is a power reserved by the people in the Ohio State Constitution, and as such is only required to be within the scope of legislative power to be valid.
Because the referendum is a power reserved in the people and not delegated, the power is not subject to the requirements of standards, which attend a delegation of power from a legislative body to a regulatory body.
The Court notes the precedent of Euclid v. Ambler, which held that a property owner can challenge a restriction if the measure is clearly arbitrary and unreasonable, having no substantial relation to the public health, safety, morals, or general welfare. If the result of the referendum is arbitrary and capricious, bearing no relation to the police power, then the fact that the voters of Eastlake wish it so would not save the restriction.
The Court notes that the present case is not like the Euclid v. Ambler case, in that the present restriction is not challenged as being arbitrary and capricious and bearing no relation to the police power.
As a basic instrument of democratic government, the referendum process does not, in itself, violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment when applied to a rezoning ordinance.
Dissent. There are two dissents:
The referendum here as applied to one person (or “spot” referendum) is fundamentally unfair as it affords no due process or opportunity to be heard for the person whose property is affected.
The problem in these cases may be a three-sided dispute involving a conflict between the rights of the property owner and the rights of his neighbors, or a conflict with the public interest in preserving the city’s basic zoning plan. The referendum is okay in the latter conflict, but not fair as applied to a “private” conflict.
Discussion. Note the effect of the “reservation” of the referendum power in the people by the Ohio State Constitution. The entire case turned on that reservation as opposed to delegation. Plus, the Court seemed to be interested in upholding the democratic proc