Posted by: Patricia Salkin | September 24, 2016

5th Circuit Court of Appeals Holds New Ordinance Relaxing Citywide Zoning Requirements for Halfway Houses Mooted Impermissible Spot Zoning Claims

The Sisters/Servants of the Holy Ghost and Mary Immaculate began negotiations to convey a subject property to Ridgemont Investment Group, LLC and Intervenor Crosspoint, Inc. Crosspoint operated correctional and rehabilitative facilities, and intended to use the subject property as short-term housing for parolees as they transition from prison to release. To facilitate the planned conveyance, the Sisters filed an application and request for rezoning of the Property, seeking both a C-3 zoning designation and a Specific Use Authorization. Once the transitional home began operating, property values in the surrounding neighborhood decreased between 25% and 35%. Affected homeowners formed Plaintiff Unincorporated Non-Profit Association of Concerned Eastside Citizens and Property Owners, and sued the City in district court, challenging the 2009 Ordinance. In 2011, the City passed a new ordinance relaxing citywide zoning requirements for halfway houses. The district court held that the change mooted the plaintiff’s claim.

The 2009 Ordinance consisted of two components: it rezoned the Property from MF-33 to C-3; and it granted the requisite Specific Use Authorization. The district court held the two components were severable. Accordingly, even if the district court were to void the rezoning portion of the 2009 Ordinance, the Property would revert to a zoning designation of MF-33 but keep the Specific Use Authorization to operate a transitional home.”

On appeal, the court found the two portions were severable according to Section 1-17 of the San Antonio Code, as well Chapter 35 of the San Antonio City Code, which contained the 2009 Ordinance. Chapter 35 included its own severability provision that was also applicable to the 2009 Ordinance. Even assuming the 2009 Ordinance’s rezoning portion needed to be stricken, the subject property would still hold the requisite Specific Use Authorization. Thus, with the 2011 Ordinance, Crosspoint would still be able to operate its transitional home even if the Property reverted back to an MF-33 base zoning designation. The court therefore found the Citizens Association’s spot-zoning claim was moot.

Unincorporated Non-Profit Association of Concerned Eastside Citizens and Property Owners v. City of San Antonio, 2016 WL 4254379 (5th Cir CA, unrep. 8/11/2016)

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