Martin C. Heck, Jr. and Victoria Heck (“the Hecks”) appealed from the judgment of the Circuit Court of Franklin County affirming the variance denial of the City of Pacific Board of Zoning Adjustment (“the BZA”). The Hecks sought a variance from the City of Pacific Ordinance Section 400.240(D)(3), which prohibited the placement of a new manufactured home in an existing manufactured home park unless the new manufactured home is placed at least twenty feet from any other home or structure. The zoning board denied the variance, and the Hecks appealed first to the trial court which upheld the denial and then again to the appellate court. The Hecks argued that the spacing requirements of Section 400.240(D)(3) may not be enforced within their mobile home park because they had a legal nonconforming use for their entire mobile home park.
The City of Pacific Ordinance Section 400.240(D)(1) provided that “Lots with manufactured homes located within the City of Pacific in existence as of the effective date of this Chapter, July 2, 1996, may remain as legal non-conforming uses subject to the terms of Section 400.270 of this Chapter.” The court found substantial evidence that the Hecks operated Pacific Manor in its current configuration beginning in 1983; therefore the continued operation of Pacific Manor as a lawful nonconforming use was not abolished by Section 400.240(D)(3), which became effective in July 1996. The City then argued that the lawful nonconforming use has since been extinguished by alteration, abandonment, or both. However, the zoning board did not analyze or even consider the issue of whether the Hecks have the right to continue their nonconforming use, or whether the Hecks lost their legal property right to continue the nonconforming use due to their action or inaction. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded the matter to the zoning board with instructions that both parties be allowed to present evidence on the issue of whether the Hecks were entitled to continue their lawful nonconforming use for Pacific Manor.
Heck v City of Pacific, 2014 WL 5462389 (MO App. 10/28/2014)
The opinion can be accessed at: http://www.courts.mo.gov/file.jsp?id=79779