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K.G.T. Holdings, LLC & Inv. Holdings, LLC v. Parish of Jefferson

Court of Appeal of Louisiana, Fifth Circuit

March 25, 2015

K.G.T. HOLDINGS, LLC AND INVESTMENT HOLDINGS, LLC
v.
THE PARISH OF JEFFERSON AND THE JEFFERSON PARISH COUNCIL

Page 629

ON APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT, PARISH OF JEFFERSON, STATE OF LOUISIANA. NO. 735-069, DIVISION " N" . HONORABLE STEPHEN D. ENRIGHT, JR., JUDGE PRESIDING.

AFFIRMED.

TIMOTHY S. MADDEN, BENJAMIN E. GONSOULIN, ATTORNEYS AT LAW, New Orleans, Louisiana, COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE.

KENNETH B. KROBERT, ANGELA M. HEATH, PARISH ATTORNEYS, Jefferson, Louisiana, COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT.

Panel composed of Judges Marc E. Johnson, Robert M. Murphy, and Stephen J. Windhorst.

OPINION

MARC E. JOHNSON

Page 630

[14-872 La.App. 5 Cir. 2] Defendants, the Parish of Jefferson (" the Parish" ) and the Jefferson Parish Council (" the Council" ), appeal the judgment of the trial court granting Plaintiffs, K.G.T. Holdings, LLC and Investment Holdings LLC (collectively " the Developers" ), a permanent injunction, vacating the Council's decision to deny the Developers' request for resubdivision, and ordering the Council to grant the Developers' revised request for subdivision. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

FACTS & PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The Developers own a tract of property consisting of five lots, zoned R-1A for single family residential, in the Orleans Parkway Subdivision, bounded by Newman Ave., Rufin Place, Orleans Ave. and Central Ave., in Old Jefferson. Seeking to develop their property, the Developers demolished an old, abandoned, and dilapidated school and two vandalized residences on the property and [14-872 La.App. 5 Cir. 3] submitted an application for resubdivision. In their application for resubdivision, the Developers sought approval for resubdividing the five-lot tract into 17 lots.

The Jefferson Parish Planning Department (" the Planning Department" ) recommended denying the resubdivision request on the basis 13 of the proposed 17 lots, with inadequacies in the width, depth and area measurements, did not comply with the R-1A zoning requirements. The application was heard by the Jefferson Parish Planning Advisory Board (" PAB" ) on September 26, 2013, which deferred a decision to allow the Developers to submit a revised proposal that met the R-1A requirements.

Thereafter, the Developers met with the Planning Department and neighbors to address concerns regarding the number of lots, the lot size, drainage, the existence of a " spite strip", and emergency vehicle access. After discussing the matter with multiple Parish departments, the Developers submitted a revised plat plan proposal. The revised proposal reduced the number of lots to 16, added a 15-foot drainage servitude and a utility servitude, removed the spite strip and enlarged the hammerhead cul-de-sac to aid emergency vehicles. The Developers submitted two revised drawings: one in which all 16 of the proposed lots were compliant with the Jefferson Parish Code of Ordinances, and one in which 15 of the 16 proposed lots were compliant. In the second drawing, Lot 6-B1 failed to meet the 50-foot width requirement on the rear of the property, falling short by 2.5 feet.

The Planning Department reviewed the revised proposal and recommended approval of the plan in which 15 of the 16 lots complied with the zoning and code requirements. On October 24, 2013, a second hearing was held before the PAB, at which time the PAB unanimously approved the Developers' revised plan for resubdivision, despite opposition by the neighbors.

[14-872 La.App. 5 Cir. 4] The application for resubdivision was considered by the Council on January 15, 2014, at which time the Council denied the application on the basis the plans did not meet the neighborhood norm and the density was too intense. Thereafter, on January 31, 2014,

Page 631

the Developers filed a petition for injunctive relief and appeal of the Council's decision, claiming the Council's decision was arbitrary and capricious because there was no factual support for its decision and its decision bore little relationship to public safety, health, comfort or general welfare so as to violate the Developers' constitutional rights.

The trial court heard the matter on May 2, 2014, and rendered judgment on June 27, 2014, granting a permanent injunction in favor of the Developers and against the Council and vacating the Council's January 15, 2014 decision that denied the Developers request for resubdivision. The judgment ordered the Council to grant the Developers' revised request for resubdivision.

In its reasons for judgment, the trial court noted that the Council denied the request for resubdivision on the basis the proposal would overdevelop the neighborhood and that the lot sizes failed to meet the neighborhood norm. However, the trial court found that the evidence did not establish a neighborhood norm for the area. In so concluding, the trial court relied on the Planning Department's subdivision report that stated the area at issue did not have a neighborhood norm and evidence that 170 lots in a four block radius of the proposed development did not comply with the lot size required for R-1A zoning. While the trial court acknowledged there was some opposition to the proposal by neighboring residents, it cited and relied on jurisprudence that states resubdivision requests should not be denied solely on the basis of objection voiced by neighboring residents. The trial court ...


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