Posted by: Patricia Salkin | November 26, 2016

Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Dismisses Takings and Equal Protection Claims Arising from a Permit Denial Pursuant to Shoreland Zoning Ordinances

Plaintiff Donohoo filed a land use permit and mitigation plan with the Douglas County zoning office to build a small addition to his home. When he learned that a new state law, 2011 Wisconsin Act 170, had been passed, prohibiting local authorities from enacting shoreland zoning restrictions that were more onerous than those passed by the state, he withdrew his plans and submitted a revised permit application and mitigation plan proposing a second story addition to his home. When this revised application was denied, Donohoo challenged the denial through a certiorari action he filed in Douglas County Circuit Court. The district court concluded that this was a matter for local land–use agencies or the state court, and that Donahoo failed to offer proof that any of his constitutional rights had been violated. Barry Donohoo appealed the grant of summary judgment against his claim that local officials in Douglas County, Wisconsin, violated his constitutional rights when they denied him the land use permit.

The court determined that the claim under the Takings Clause failed because Donohoo failed to provide any evidence that Douglas County deprived him of property or the practical uses of the property. Even if there had been a taking, the court determined that Donohoo could not bring a federal claim because he had not first pursued state remedies. As for Donohoo’s equal protection claim, the court found that he failed to show that Douglas County’s actions lacked a rational basis or that the county treated any similarly situated individual more favorably. Finally, the court held that Donohoo’s due process claim failed because local zoning decisions require only minimal process, which he received.

Donohoo v Hanson, 2016 WL 6393498 (7th Cir. CA 10/28/2016)

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