Appeal from Montgomery Circuit Court (CV-13-900575)
THOMPSON, Presiding Judge.
This appeal arises from the denial of an application by the Huntsville Housing Authority ("HHA") to the State of Alabama Licensing Board for General Contractors ("the Board") for a general contractor's license.
On April 3, 2013, HHA filed in the Montgomery Circuit Court ("the trial court") a one-count complaint against the Board seeking to appeal the Board's decision to deny its licensure application, citing § 34-8-27, Ala. Code 1975. Section 34-8-27, which is part of the chapter of the Code addressing licensure of general contractors § 34-8-1 et seq., Ala. Code 1975, provides:
"Any party aggrieved by any decision of the ... Board, either in denying an application for license as a general contractor or in revoking a license, may appeal to the Circuit Court of Montgomery County by filing a bond with the clerk of the court, conditioned to pay all costs of the appeal. Upon notice of the appeal being served upon the ... Board, an issue shall be made up by the court between the appellant and the ... Board, in which the appellant shall allege in what respect the action of the ... Board was erroneous and prejudicial to him or her; whereupon the court shall hear the evidence and, without regard to the decision of the ... Board, shall render such decision as the court is of the opinion the ... Board should have rendered in the first instance."
On the same day that HHA filed its complaint, HHA also filed a cost bond with the trial court.
In its complaint, HHA alleged and asserted, in part:
"5. On or about July 11, 2012, HHA submitted a written application (the 'application') to the Board for a general contractor's license.
"6. On or about July 16, 2012, HHA received a memorandum from the Board (the 'memorandum') .... with regard to the [general contractor's] examination:
"7. The memorandum also requested that HHA complete some additional forms and provide some additional information. HHA completed the required forms and provided the requested information to the Board within a reasonable time after receiving the memorandum.
"8. In reasonable reliance on the memorandum, HHA paid the required fees for its employee and qualified party, Connie McLaurin ('McLaurin') to register for and take the examination. The Board accepted the fees and allowed McLaurin to complete at least part of the examination.
"9. On January 9, 2013, after McLaurin had already taken part of the examination, Kristi Whynott with the Board contacted McLaurin via telephone, and left a voice message stating that the Executive Secretary of the Board, Joseph Rodgers ('Rodgers'), was denying the application 'based on the definition of general contractor because [HHA] [is] a non-profit organization.'
"10. On February 13, 2013, HHA sent a letter to Rodgers requesting an opportunity to be heard at the February 20, 2013, Board meeting concerning the denial of the application.
"11. At the Board meeting on February 20, 2013, (the 'hearing'), the undersigned [counsel for HHA] appeared before the Board on behalf of HHA to appeal the denial of the application. The undersigned presented facts and legal argument showing that the application was due to be granted, and answered questions posed by the Board members.
"12. At the hearing, the only argument advanced by the Board members and/or Rodgers in opposition to the granting of the application was that HHA is a public entity, and public entities ...