Posted by: Patricia Salkin | October 23, 2015

TN Appeals Court Finds Decision of the Planning Commission was Not a Final Order or Judgment for Purposes of Judicial Review

Residents of the Sylvan Park neighborhood of Nashville filed a petition for writ of certiorari, seeking review of a decision by the Metropolitan Planning Commission to recommend that the Metropolitan Council disapprove an ordinance which would expand the historic conservation overlay district in the neighborhood. Ordinance No. BL2014–807, intended to expand the historic Conservation Overlay District for the Park Elkin section of Sylvan Park, was introduced before the Metropolitan Council, where it passed on first reading; pursuant to Metropolitan Code § 17.40.070, The Planning Commission moved to dismiss the petition, asserting that the Planning Commission’s decision “was only a recommendation and not a ‘final order’ from which an appeal may be taken with a writ of certiorari.” The court granted the motion, holding that the decision by the Planning Commission was not a final order, and the residents appealed.

Pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 27–9–101, judicial review of decisions by boards and commissions is permitted for “anyone who may be aggrieved by any final order or judgment of any board or commission functioning under the laws of this state may have the order or judgment reviewed by the courts.” Furthermore, any decision or action by a board or commission that is not final is not subject to judicial review under the common law writ of certiorari. Here, to protect against random or ad hoc zoning, a super-majority of the Metropolitan Council would be required to override the planning commission’s disapproval of a proposed zoning change. The court found that in light of the specific role assigned to the Planning Commission, and because further action by the Council was needed in order for the proposed ordinance to be enacted, the Planning Commission’s recommendation could not be considered a final order or judgment. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court was affirmed.

Historic Sylvan Park, Inc. v Metropolitan Government of Nashville, 2015 WL 5719771 (TN App. 9/29/2015)

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