Plaintiff’s Willis and Annette Boice, purchased two adjacent lots in the village of Ottawa Hills. The Boices lived in a house on one of these lots for the next 30 years. This house was 57,000 square feet, and the vacant lot was 33,000 square feet, while the minimum size for a buildable lot in 1974 was 15,000 square feet. In 1978, the village amended its zoning requirements to increase the buildable-lot size to 35,000 square feet. Then plaintiffs sold the lot with the house, and sought approval from the village manager to have the smaller lot declared a buildable lot so it could be sold. The request was denied however, even though there were other houses in the area that were built on lots smaller than 35,000 square feet after the 1978 zoning amendment.
Plaintiffs appealed that decision to defendant-appellee Ottawa Hills Zoning Commission, seeking a variance, but their appeal and the variance were denied. The plaintiffs then filed an appeal in the Lucas County Common Pleas Court, which upheld the zoning commission’s decision. That decision was appealed to the Sixth District Court of Appeals, which affirmed the trial court The state supreme court held that the Court of Appeals should be reversed on three grounds: the lot should have been grandfathered in so as to remain a buildable lot; since the current zoning calls for a minimum lot of 35,000 square feet, and plaintiffs’ lot is 33,000 square feet there is a “de minimis difference”, making it unreasonable to rule against allowing it; and that there was disparate treatment of residents in the village when it came to permitting houses to be built on lots smaller than 35,000 square feet. Accordingly, the court reversed the Court of Appeals in favor of the plaintiffs.
Boice v. Ottawa Hills, 999 N.E.2d 649, 654 (Ohio 12/2013)
The opinion can be accessed at: http://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/rod/docs/pdf/0/2013/2013-ohio-4769.pdf