Citation. 331 N.W.2d 398,1983 Iowa Sup.
Law Students: Don’t know your Studybuddy Pro login? Register here
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.
Alex and Martha Stone (Plaintiffs) purchased undeveloped land with the intent of developing a low income, federally subsidized housing project. The project was to consist of several multi-family units. At the time of the purchase of the land, a quarter of the land was zoned as single-family residential and the rest was multi-family residential. Plaintiffs incurred expenses for the beginning stages of the planning of the project. The planning and zoning commission of the city recommended to the city council that the land should be rezoned as single-family residential due to alleged inadequacies of sewer, water, and electrical services. Plaintiff’s application for a building permit was denied due to the pending recommendation, which was passed.
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.
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.