Posted by: Patricia Salkin | March 29, 2012

Nevada Supreme Court Holds Association Lacked Standing to Challenge Planning Commission Where it Failed to Participate or Exhaust Administrative Remedies

The Humbolt River Ranch Association filed a petition for judicial review of a decision by the Pershing County Board of Commissioners to change the zoning of a Humbolt River Ranch parcel owned by Charles Azzarello and Judy Kritikos from general commercial to industrial.  The Board’s decision came after Azzarello and Kritikos had appealed the denial of their application by the Pershing County Planning Commission, a proceeding in which the Humbolt River Ranch Association had taken no part, though some member property owners had been present at the meetings.  The Association had not taken any other formal action on the application prior to its petition, nor had it voted concerning the zoning change sought. 

The Board filed a motion to dismiss the Association’s petition in Nevada court for lack of standing and failure to exhaust administrative remedies.  The district court granted the motion to dismiss, agreeing that the Association lacked standing because, under Nevada law, a party seeking judicial review of Board action must first have appealed the Planning Commission’s decision that led up to that action.  The court also concluded that the Association had failed to actively protect its rights by participating in the administrative process, and had thus failed to exhaust its administrative remedies before the Planning Commission and the Board.  Thus, the district court dismissed the action and the Association appealed. 

Here, the Nevada Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s determination that the Association lacked standing and failed to exhaust its administrative remedies.  The court charged that the Association “attempted to thwart the objectives of the zoning appellate process and the doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies” by failing to participate in the proceedings or to protect its rights in any official capacity in the proceedings of the Planning Commission or the Board before taking its complaint to court.  For those reasons, the court agreed that the Association’s claim should fail, and upheld the district court’s order granting the Board’s motion to dismiss the complaint. 

Humbolt River Ranch Association v. Pershing County Board of Commissioners, 2012 WL 642323 (Nev. 2/24/12)

The Unpublished opinion can be accessed at: http://www.nevadajudiciary.us/index.php/viewdocumentsandforms/func-startdown/8264


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