Posted by: Patricia Salkin | February 8, 2016

IA Appeals Court Agrees Plaintiffs Lacked Standing to Challenge Denial of Rezoning

Rockne Cole, Jon Fogarty, and Mark McCallum filed an application to rezone certain property owned by Iowa City. The rezoning application was denied by the City Council, and Cole, along with ICATS (an unincorporated association), petitioned for a writ of certiorari with the district court to contest the City Council’s refusal to rezone the property. Both parties filed motions for summary judgment, and the district court granted the City Council’s motion, annulling the writ. On appeal, Cole and ICATS asserted that the district court erred in concluding they lacked standing to challenge the City Council’s decision denying the rezoning application.

Cole claimed since he was one of the applicants who applied for rezoning he had standing to seek review of the propriety of the denial. As to ICATS’s standing, plaintiffs claimed that the unincorporated association had standing to assert the rights of its members in challenging the rezoning denial. Here, neither ICATS nor Cole owned property near the parcel at issue.   Additionally, even though ICATS may have been formed before the application was filed, it was not listed on the application as a party seeking the parcel to be rezoned. Moreover, even if ICATS had standing to assert the rights of its members as claimed on appeal, there was no indication that ICATS’s individual members had standing to challenge the rezoning denial. Likewise, Cole’s application stated the rezoning was needed “to protect our cherished commons, and allow future generations of children to enjoy the bright sunlight” and was needed for “our community to grow and prosper without compromising the needs of future generations.” However, these generalized claims were insufficient to establish jurisdiction.

Because neither Cole nor ICATS could show either a specific personal or legal interest or that the City Council’s action to deny the CB–5 rezoning application injuriously affected them, the court affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment to the City Council and the court’s annulment of the writ of certiorari.

Iowa Coalition Against the Shadow v City Council of Iowa City, 2016 WL 363742 (1/27/16)

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