Posted by: Patricia Salkin | June 18, 2017

AR Appeals Court Holds City’s Rezoning of Annexation Area from Agricultural to Industrial was Compatible with the Zoned Uses of the City

Shelly Kendrick and the Gregory A. Kendrick Living Trust owned parcels of property totaling approximately eighty-seven or eighty-eight acres, which was originally located within the boundaries of Bethel Heights. In 2015, Kendrick sought to detach the property from Bethel Heights and have it annexed to Springdale pursuant to Act 779 of 1999. Following this, Springdale filed an ordinance to annex the property in March 2015. Springdale then filed an ordinance to rezone the property from agricultural use to industrial use. Bethel Heights challenged Springdale’s rezoning actions, filing a complaint that sought a declaratory judgment and injunctive relief. Following the circuit court’s order granting Springdale’s motion to dismiss, Springdale filed a motion for summary judgment asserting that the undisputed facts demonstrated that its rezoning decision was not arbitrary and capricious. The circuit court granted Springdale’s motion.

In support of its motion, Springdale submitted the affidavit of Patsy Christie, the director of Planning and Community Development for the City of Springdale, which stated that at the time of the rezoning of Springdale’s recently annexed property, a parcel of property located within Bethel Heights immediately to the west of and adjacent to the property, was zoned industrial by Bethel Heights. Additionally, an affidavit from Fred Wagner, a licensed real estate agent who had the pertinent four-acre Bethel Heights property listed for sale, stated that the property listing indicated that the property was zoned for industrial use. An affidavit from Wayne VanHook, a real estate agent, stated that the mayor of Bethel Heights had given VanHook a copy of the Bethel Heights ordinance by which the four-acre tract had been zoned industrial in 2007. Accordingly, Springdale established a prima facie case that its rezoning of the Kendrick property from agricultural to industrial was a use that was compatible with the zoned uses of an adjacent or contiguous municipality.

In response, Bethel Heights attached the petition for rezoning; Springdale’s planning-commission minutes from the meeting at which the ordinance rezoning the Kendrick property was prepared; an affidavit from Trey Trumbo, the owner of several of the adjoining properties that were zoned residential, who opined that his property values would decline if the rezoning were permitted to stand; and excerpts from Gregory Kendrick’s deposition testimony. The court found these exhibits did not provide proof on the question of whether Springdale’s rezoning was compatible with the zoned use of an adjacent property. Accordingly, the court held that the circuit court did not err in granting Springdale’s motion for summary judgment.

City of Bethel Heights v City of Springdale, 2017 Ark. App. 81 (2/8/2017)

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