Posted by: Patricia Salkin | May 31, 2019

Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals Finds No Constitutionally Protected Interest in Denial of Conditional Rezoning for Multi-Family Housing Complex

This post was authored by Matthew Loeser, Esq.

Tollbrook, LLC, the owner of three adjacent parcels of property along Big Beaver Road in Troy, Michigan, appealed the dismissal of its claims alleging violations of substantive due process and 42 U.S.C. §1983 based on Defendant-Appellee City of Troy’s denial of a conditional rezoning request that would have allowed Tollbrook to develop a multi-family housing complex on a parcel zoned for single-family residential. The district court dismissed Tollbrook’s claims after finding no constitutionally protected interest was at stake, and that the City Council’s decision was not arbitrary and capricious.

On appeal, Tollbrook argued that the City Council was required to grant the conditional rezoning request since the Planning Commission unanimously voted to recommend the proposal. The court rejected this contention, however, as the Zoning Ordinance vested ultimate authority over rezoning requests in the City Council, rather than the Planning Commission. Furthermore, the ordinance made it clear that the City Council could deny the application notwithstanding a positive recommendation by the Planning Commission. As such, the decision was entirely committed to the discretion of the City Council. Tollbrook therefore had no constitutionally protected property interest in the approval of the conditional rezoning request.

Next, because Tollbrook failed to plausibly allege that it had a constitutionally protected property or liberty interest in the approval of its conditional rezoning request, its substantive due process claim failed, and the court no longer needed to address whether the City’s decision was arbitrary and capricious. Accordingly, the district court’s holding was affirmed.

Tollbrook, LLC v. City of Troy, 2019 WL 2183827 (6th Cir CA 5/21/2019)

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