Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Shoal Creek Land & Cattle, LLC v. City of Arab

Alabama Court of Civil Appeals

May 5, 2017

Shoal Creek Land & Cattle, LLC
v.
City of Arab and City of Arab Historic Preservation Commission

         Appeal from Marshall Circuit Court (CV-15-900004)

          MOORE, JUDGE.

         Shoal Creek Land & Cattle, LLC ("Shoal Creek"), appeals from a judgment entered by the Marshall Circuit Court ("the circuit court") upholding a determination of the City of Arab Historic Preservation Commission ("the AHPC") denying an application by Shoal Creek for a certificate of appropriateness ("COA"). We reverse the judgment.

         Background

         In 2009, Shoal Creek purchased a building ("the building") in downtown Arab. In January 2014, the City of Arab established the City of Arab Downtown Historic District ("the historic district"), see City of Arab Ordinance No. 2014-4, which included the area in which the building is located. In October and November 2014, Shoal Creek replaced four of the second-floor windows of the building. The AHPC discovered the modifications and directed Shoal Creek to file an application for a COA. See Ala. Code 1975, § 11-68-9(a) ("No change in the exterior appearance of ... any building ... within an historic district may be made[] ... unless and until a certificate of appropriateness for such change ... is approved by the historic preservation commission created by the municipality designating the historic property or the historic district."). Shoal Creek filed the COA application, which the AHPC denied on November 25, 2014.[1]

         The AHPC meeting minutes from November 25, 2014, indicate that the AHPC denied the COA application on the ground that the replacement windows violated design standards for windows ("the window-design standards") contained in the "[AHPC] General Design Guidelines." On November 26, 2014, the AHPC sent a letter to Shoal Creek explaining that the AHPC had denied the application for the COA for the following two reasons:

"1. The windows you selected were inappropriate in material choice and glazing pattern. Historic photos indicate that the original windows appeared to be double hung, wooden sash windows. The windows you selected were vinyl, vertical gliding windows.
"2. The work you undertook on the building was not in keeping with the general historic character of your building or the Downtown Arab Historic District of which it is a part ...."

         On January 5, 2015, Shoal Creek filed a notice of appeal to the circuit court.[2] See Ala. Code 1975, § 11-68-10, and City of Arab Ordinance No. 2013-1, § V(O). On February 5, 2015, the City of Arab and the AHPC filed an answer and counterclaimed for injunctive relief. On March 3, 2015, Shoal Creek filed a reply to the counterclaim.

         After a trial, the circuit court entered a final judgment on May 10, 2016, upholding the AHPC's decision to deny the application for a COA and ordering Shoal Creek "to install appropriate windows, as approved by [the AHPC] and [notifying Shoal Creek] that further changes to the structure shall be in compliance with the City of Arab's Historic Preservation Ordinance." On June 9, 2016, Shoal Creek filed a postjudgment motion, which the circuit court denied on July 15, 2016. On August 26, 2016, Shoal Creek filed its notice of appeal to the supreme court, which deflected the appeal to this court. See Ala. Code 1975, § 12-2-7(6).

         Issues

         On appeal, Shoal Creek argues that the AHPC had no discretion to deny its COA application because, it says, the AHPC's window-design standards do not apply to the building and because, it says, the AHPC exceeded its authority by requiring Shoal Creek to restore the windows to their original, 1930s appearance. We find the first issue to be dispositive, so we do not address the second issue.

         Discussion

         City of Arab Ordinance No. 2013-1 ("the 2013 ordinance") and City of Arab Ordinance No. 2014-4 ("the 2014 ordinance") vest the AHPC with the authority to prohibit the modification of the exterior appearance of buildings within the historic district by denying the application for a COA. However, the power to deny an owner of private property the right to modify the appearance of that property must be circumscribed by uniform standards applicable to all citizens. As explained by our supreme court in Smith v. City of Mobile, 374 So.2d 305 (Ala. 1979):

"'"Municipal ordinances, placing restrictions upon lawful conduct, or the lawful use of property, must, in order to be valid, specify the rules and conditions to be observed in such conduct of business, and must admit of the exercise of the privilege by all citizens alike who will comply with such rules and conditions, and must not admit of the exercise, or of an opportunity for the exercise, of any arbitrary ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.