Posted by: Patricia Salkin | November 21, 2018

GA Appeals Court Holds Challenge to Standing was Not Raised Before County Board and Therefore Waived

This post was authored by Matthew Loeser, Esq.

Athens College of Ministry, Inc. (“ACM”) sought to build a college campus in Oconee County. Kevin York and Icy Forest, LLC, property owners in the area, objected to the issuance of a special use permit for the proposed development. The trial court granted ACM’s and the County’s motions to dismiss for lack of standing, and York and Icy Forest appealed.

On appeal, York and Icy Forest argued that the decision to grant the permit was quasi-judicial and, therefore, the appellees had waived their challenge to standing by not raising this issue before the Board. The relevant ordinance directed that due consideration be given to ten objective “standards for special use consideration” before a permit would be granted. Here, the planning department analyzed the application against the ten criteria in the ordinance, and the Board then held a hearing before granting the permit. As such, the process used for the Board’s decision involved determining the facts and applying the ordinance’s legal standards to them, which the court found to be a decision-making process akin to a judicial act. Additionally, the Board’s decision was immediate in application, specific in application, and involved an assessment of facts about the parties and their activities, businesses, and properties. Accordingly, the determination to grant the special use permit was quasi-judicial.

As the decision to grant the special use permit in this case was quasi-judicial, the court held appellees waived their challenge to York’s and Icy Forest’s standing by failing to raise this issue before the Board. Thus, the trial court erred in granting ACM’s and the County’s motions to dismiss for lack of standing.

York v Athens College of Ministry, Inc., 2018 WL 5729088 (GA App. 11/2/2018)


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