No Taking Where City Council Properly Revoked Ordinance

The Utah Supreme Court recently determined that there is no “taking” where a city council had properly rescinded an ordinance.

In the case of L.C. Canyon Partners vs. Salt Lake County, 2011 UT 63, 266 P.3d 797 (2011), L.C. Canyon had filed an application with Salt Lake County to rezone several acres of its property from FR 20 to FR 2.5 to allow the construction of a residence on the property.  The County Planning Commission recommended its approval to the Salt Lake County Council. The Council then passed an ordinance amending the zoning map to grant L.C. Canyon’s requested rezoning.  However, before the ordinance was to take effect, the Council rescinded the rezoning ordinance, the Council decided to reconsider the approval after learning that the property was closer to Little Cottonwood Canyon than they had believed when initially voting to rezone.

L.C. Canyon filed a complaint against the County, asserting that (1) application of the FR 20 zoning designation to L.C. Canyon’s property lacked a rational basis; (2) the Council had no authority to rescind the rezoning ordinance and (3) the rescission was essentially a “taking” of L.C. Canyon’s property.

The Utah Supreme Court upheld the conclusions of the district court that: (1) the FR-20 zone was “rationally related” to the “legitimate public objectives of protecting the foothills and canyon areas of the county and their natural and scenic resources”; (2) the Council had full authority to rescind its own rezoning ordinance since the ordinance was rescinded before the ordinance took effect; and (3) L.C. Canyon lacked a “takings” claim since the ordinance had not yet become effective at the time of rescission, thus any protectable interest that might have been created by the ordinance had not yet vested.

The Court pointed out that its decision was fair since L.C. Canyon had not acted in reliance on the initial rezoning decision and had not incurred any liability or expense.

A complete copy of the Utah Supreme Court’s decision can be found here.

This article was researched, written and posted by Clark Duellman