Posted by: Patricia Salkin | November 18, 2019

IA Appeals Court Holds City Comprehensive Plan Conflicts with Gaming Facility Construction

This post was authored by Matthew Bentley, Touro Law Center

In 2007, the Ponca Tribe transferred land to the United States to hold in trust for the tribe. In 2009, the Ponca tribe and the City agreed to allow the tribe to seek changes in the zoning regulations without unreasonable opposition from the City. The tribe then announced their plans to construct a gaming facility. In 2018, the City Council approved the tribe’s amendment to the zoning regulations, which added gaming facilities to the list of permitted uses in the C-2 general commercial district. The amendment to the regulations would allow for the tribe to build the casino on the trust land. The land at issue is on the border of the trust property. Vogt filed a suit against the City and the City Council, claiming that the amendment to the regulations, violates the City’s comprehensive plan and that the tribe to be limited to constructing a “tobacco shop.”

Vogt claimed that the comprehensive plan prohibited mass redevelopment for large facility such as a casino. Vogt also claimed that because the status of the land was still in litigation and it could not be presumed that the gaming facility was on tribal land. Vogt filed a temporary injunction seeking to halt the construction of the casino in Carter Lake, zoning designations aside. The City claimed that federal law preempted Vogt’s claims and that the court lacked jurisdiction.

The district court ruled in favor of the City and determined that Vogt’s claims were preempted by federal law. The appellate court determined that the district court was proper in determining that Vogt’s claims seeking to enforce the zoning regulations and the comprehensive plan on the trust lands was preempted by federal law.  Furthermore, the appellate court ruled that tribe’s petition contests gaming facilities would be authorized in all of the C-2 Zoning Districts and in compliance with the City’s comprehensive plan. The district court’s ruling was reversed and remanded for the district court to determine whether the amendment applies to the C-2 district that is outside of the trust land.

Vogt v City of Carter Lake, 19-0108, 2019 WL 5790893 (Iowa Ct App Nov. 6, 2019).

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