Brief Fact Summary. A landowner wanted to construct multi-family dwellings, but rezoning prevented him from doing so.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. The standard for determining if a property owner has vested rights in a zoning classification includes the amount of construction accomplished prior to the rezoning.
Even this rule is not applied with strict precision, for this Court has often said that debatable questions as to reasonableness are not for the courts but for the legislature.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Does rezoning constitute a taking when only preliminary steps towards construction of property have taken place?
The validity of rezoning depends on reasonableness. Zoning is not static. A city’s plan is always subject to reasonable revisions designed to meet the ever-changing needs and conditions of the community. The council here rationally decided to rezone the section at issue to further the public welfare. The inevitable restrictions on individual use of property, which accompany zoning normally do not constitute a taking.
The standard for determining if a property owner has vested rights in a zoning classification includes the amount of construction accomplished prior to the rezoning. Here, only preliminary steps towards construction were taken. The architect’s plans were not blueprints. No construction bids were sought or contracts obtained. No materials were placed on the site and no construction or earthwork was started. Plaintiffs’ efforts and expenditures prior to rezoning were not so substantial as to create vested rights in the completion of the housing project.
The rezoning merely deprived Plaintiffs of what they considered the land’s most beneficial use. Since the ordinance has been determined to be valid, the fact that it deprives the property of its most beneficial use does not render it an unconstitutional taking.
Discussion. A city needs to be able to rezone property in order to promote the welfare of the region. Even if this means that the construction plans of specific landowners will be affected and their intent in constructing can no longer be accomplished, the rezoning will be allowed to stand as long as the city is acting reasonably.