Posted by: Patricia Salkin | September 2, 2014

LA Appeals Court Finds That Expense Alone Does Not Justify the Need for a Variance for an RV Used to Assist Disabled Child

The Cronleys applied to the Zoning Board for a variance to allow them to park their RV on the side of their home. Pursuant to the Zoning Code, the Cronleys were required to maintain a five-foot side yard setback between the RV and the side property line. However, due to the width of the RV, only 2.95 feet would remain between the RV and the side property line. Accordingly, the Cronleys requested a variance of 2.05 feet. During the public hearings and proceedings before the Zoning Board, several of the Cronleys’ neighbors expressed strong opposition to the requested variance, arguing that the RV is an “eyesore,” and that the neighborhood could start to resemble a “trailer park.” At the conclusion of the hearing on January 3, 2013, the Zoning Board denied the Cronleys’ request for a variance. The Cronley’s appealed and the trial court reversed. The Parish of Jefferson, through its Board of Zoning Adjustments appealed.

The court first discussed that a hardship that justifies the granting of a variance must stem from the application of the ordinance to the property in question and not from the actions of the applicant which amount to a self-induced hardship. The testimony revealed that the Cronley’s son Joey suffers from muscular dystrophy and osteoporosis, is confined to an electric wheel chair, that he can no longer move his limbs on his own, and requires a machine to assist him with breathing. The Cronley’s claimed that they needed to RV to assist their son. Despite this, other residents in the subdivision who own RVs store them off-site and only bring them back to their residences when they want to take them out. The neighbors opined that the Cronleys’ RV is an “eyesore,” that it “detracts from the entire street,” and that it would “take our property values down over the long run.”

Because of this, and the fact that the variance would not tend to preserve and advance the prosperity and general welfare of the neighborhood, the court found the Board’s decision was not arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable. Accordingly, the court reversed the trial court’s judgment granting the variance of 2.05 feet to the Cronleys, and reinstated the decision of the Zoning Board to deny the variance.

Cronley v Board of Zoning Adjustments of the Parish of Jefferson, 142 So. 3d 64 (LA. App. 5/14/2014)

The opinion can be accessed at: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/la-court-of-appeal/1666727.html


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