Tinseltown Cinema LLC filed an application to build a commercial development that included a movie theater and a restaurant on property in Olive Branch, Mississippi (the City). The Olive Branch Board of Aldermen approved Tinseltown’s application, and Tinseltown successfully applied to have its property rezoned. However, a few days later, the City discovered that Tinseltown’s property was mistakenly zoned as agricultural and residential (A–R) property, which was contrary to the C–4 “planned-commercial district” designation that appeared on the City’s comprehensive zoning plan and official zoning map. Consequently, the Board rescinded its approval of Tinseltown’s application, and denied Tinseltown’s second application. The Board found that a movie theater was out of character for the neighborhood and that Tinseltown’s plan represented undesirable piecemeal commercial development.
At the outset, the court noted that a city does not have the discretion to deny a building permit when an applicant meets the necessary building-code requirements and zoning ordinances. The court also discussed that investments in land and property are significant financial decisions, and a landowner should be able to rely upon a zoning plan to maintain the use and value of his property. As such, no portion of the C–4 zoning district gives the Board the authority to find that a proposed use is simply out of character in a given location when the proposed use is not prohibited by the ordinance. Thus the court found that it was manifestly unreasonable to interpret the C–4 zoning district as though the development of C–4 property is impermissibly piecemeal if the development does not include more than two uses, or the development is not developed along with additional property. Furthermore, it was manifestly unreasonable to prevent a landowner from developing his property in conformity with zoning requirements simply because his property is not large enough to support a larger development. Accordingly, the court found that the Board’s decision was arbitrary and manifestly unreasonable and reversed the circuit court’s judgment and rendered a judgment in favor of Tinseltown.
Tinseltown Cinema, LLC v City of Olive Branch, 2015 WL 872157 (MS App. 3/3/2015)
The opinion can be accessed at: http://judicial.mc.edu/case.php?id=1123248