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State Ex Rel. Miller v. Manders

    Brief Fact Summary. Green Bay, Wisconsin adopted an official map of the city showing established and proposed streets. The Plaintiff owned land, which was leased to Clark Oil and Refining Corporation for use as a service station. Immediately next to the service station, Plaintiff requested a building permit to build a restaurant, but the proposed building lay within a proposed roadway under the official map adopted in 1947, by the city.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. The objective of the statute, which authorizes cities to adopt official maps and place proposed streets thereon, and upon which no building permits may be granted, includes the promotion of orderly city growth and development so as to prevent the haphazard erection of buildings.

    Facts. In 1953, the realtor applied to Manders (Defendant), a building inspector, for a permit to build a drive-in service lunch stand on the property, which was next to the service station. The building inspector refused the application. The realtor appealed to the zoning and planning board of appeals. The realtor challenged the constitutionality of the city ordinance, which established the official map pursuant to statute. The board of appeals, after a hearing, sustained the building inspector’s denial of the application. The realtor then sued for a Writ of Mandamus to compel issuance of the building permit. The lower court found that the statute authorizing an official map and the ordinance adopting the official map were constitutional. The court dismissed the proceedings. The realtor appealed.

    Issue. Is the official map law and the ordinance adopting the Green Bay official map unconstitutional as a taking by the city of the realtor’s property for public use without just compensation?

    Held. No. Affirmed.
    The objectives of the statute, which authorizes cities to adopt official maps and place proposed streets thereon, and upon which no building permits may be granted, includes the promotion of orderly city growth and development so as to prevent the haphazard erection of buildings.
    There are practical reasons why cities should have the right to enforce planning in advance of the actual acquiring of title to the land underlying the proposed streets in areas undergoing improvement and development.
    Another objective of the official map is that the taxpayers’ money be saved by not allowing expensive buildings to be built on land, which is on a proposed roadway. The court found that it has previously held that protection of the public’s economic interests falls into the category of promoting the general welfare, and as such, is a valid exercise of police power.
    The court held that the board of appeals had a duty to grant the permit if the applicant property owner would be substantially damaged if the permit were to be denied. The court found that it was imperative to uphold the official map if at all possible.

    Discussion. This case is of particular importance in jurisdictions, which have an official map law. If the realtor was allowed to build his lunch stand, his financial stake in the property would be increased. Therefore, when the city finally institutes eminent domain proceedings, the value of the property would be higher, the cost of which would pass to the taxpayers.


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