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Zoning: Calif. Preserves Open Space Where City's New General Plan Outweighs Older Version

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

A developer couldn't transform open space into a residential development---even with the city's blessing---because a 2010 general plan didn't incorporate a 1973 zoning change. California's high court based its decision on two reasons: public notice and land use consistency.

Facts: Fifty acres of land in the City of Orange, California (City) was a golf course until 2006 when developer Milan REI IV LLC (Milan) purchased it. Milan planned to transform the property into a horse-themed residential development. The problem was that the City's General Plan designated the space for use as ''open space,'' a golf course, or recreational use.

In 2007, Milan began working with the City to amend the General Plan so that it could develop the property. Milan and the City discovered a City resolution from 1973 that instead designated the land for use as ''Open Space and Low Density (1 acre)'' (emphasis added). The resolution was supposed to be incorporated into the City's General Plan but never was. Thus the General Plan available to the public designated the land for use as ''open space'' only.

In 2010, the City adopted a new General Plan that was fully integrated. This meant that any older documents---such as the 1973 resolution---that manifested different intentions could have no authority in the planning process. Instead, the documents that comprised the 2010 General Plan were completely authoritative except as amended in the future.

Next, Milan and the City worked together to amend the 2010 General Plan to incorporate the 1973 resolution and thereby designate the property in question for low-density residential use. The City Council adopted the amendment, but some citizens disagreed and initiated a ballot referendum challenging the amendment. Mean[...]

Next: Development: Freezing Land Use Laws Promotes Substantial Development, Maryland Court Affirms
 
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